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Iowa Caucuses to Open U.S. Pres. Campaign

Posted January. 03, 2008 04:35,   


The 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign starts Thursday with the Iowa Caucuses, lasting for ten months through Election Day on November 4.

Traditionally, the Republican and Democratic parties hold caucuses and primaries in each of the 50 states from February to April in a presidential election year. In their national conventions in August and September, the two parties select which nominee will run for president.

Iowa in the Midwest and New England in the Northeast have traditionally been the two states holding their caucuses first, serving as early indicators for the presidential election.

In Iowa, some 200,000 out of 2,980,000 registered voters in the state are expected to participate in an event where they state their party affiliation.

During the day, those who support the Democratic Party can watch speeches given by each hopeful and from 6: 30 p.m., they can go to a gathering held at a school library.

Voters show their support for a candidate by going into a specific room, different from the traditional method of voters choosing candidates’ names. Those undecided need to go into another room.

In 1976, an obscure candidate named Jimmy Carter got a 28 percent support but 37 percent of voters went into the room for the undecided.

In the Republican caucus, voters write their chosen candidate on a blank sheet of paper under the traditional way. In the New Hampshire primary on January 8, both parties will decide their candidate by free vote.

Other states have complained about the presidential race starting in the two states. They say the two have only 1.5 percent of the U.S. population and that whites make up 95 percent of their two populations, hardly representative of the country as a whole.

Candidates have emphasized the importance of alternative ethanol energy because Iowa is a major producer of corn and has a big influence in the presidential election.

California and South Carolina have moved forward the date for their own primaries.

In an attempt to hold primaries first in the nation, Iowa and New Hampshire have moved their primaries to early January instead of February and March.

There is no guarantee that the winners in Iowa will become the final candidates for their parties. Since 1976, five out of eight hopefuls who were not president or vice president and won in Iowa won their parties` presidential nomination. This presidential election is the first in 80 years where a president or vice president will not run.

Candidates for both parties will likely be decided on February 5, dubbed “Super Tuesday” or “Tsunami Tuesday.” On that day, a whopping 20 states will hold primary elections.

The Democratic Party will hold its national convention in late August in Denver, and the Republican Party in early September in Minneapolis.