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Winning the caucus doesn’t secure the office

For the most part, Iowa receives little to no media attention in Florida throughout the year.

Sure, there is the occasional article highlighting an Iowa Hawkeye football game or maybe something is going on in the city of Des Moines; however, if you have gone on the Internet lately, you have undoubtedly seen Iowa come up a lot followed by the word “caucus.”

People make a huge deal about the Iowa caucus, which to me is a little ridiculous because a lot can happen between now and election day. It seems a little premature to get overly excited or upset over a vote that doesn’t result in a new president being put in office.

On Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 Iowa was the first state to weigh in on presidential candidates for 2016 at the Iowa caucus. Iowans gathered in their 1,681 different precincts to discuss the candidates and pick who should get the primary nomination.

But, this country consists of 50 states; why does Iowa of all states get to be the first to weigh in? Well, the answer is actually quite simple; it was a mistake that led to tradition.

Yes, way back in 1972, the Democratic Party moved its Iowa caucus earlier than the New Hampshire primary, which had come first until then. Some people argue that Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter could credit his presidential election to this mistake because he had won the vote in Iowa.

The following election resulted in the Republicans moving their caucus earlier too, thus a new tradition was born. And, here we are today.

When asking students on campus about their predictions for each caucus, I didn’t really get an overwhelming response. Most responses were, “What’s caucus?” or different deviations of, “As long as it’s not (insert candidate name here).”

In my research class, however, the entire class was asked a week prior what the significance of Feb. 2 would be. This got us on the subject of the Iowa caucus, and we were able to make our own anonymous predictions as a class.

A total of 18, more than half the class, were undecided. Almost a third of the class with 10 votes, predicted that Bernie Sanders would win. Then followed Hillary Clinton with only three votes, Rand Paul with one and Ted Cruz with one voted prediction by me.

During the Iowa caucuses this year, it was the first time results were able to be electronically sent to Democratic and Republican headquarters before announcing the winners. For the Democratic Party, anyone could predict that candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would be neck and neck and the other guy that no one knows, Martin O’Malley, would receive a miniscule fraction of the vote. This is exactly what happened.

At 49.9 percent of the vote, Clinton won the democratic caucus, beating out Sanders, who had an extremely close 49.6 percent. Poor little O’Malley had a tiny 0.6 percent of the vote.

Those praying for a wall to save all our country’s problems may have lost some sleep last night. The self-proclaimed winner and presidential candidate Donald Trump didn’t win the Republican Party Caucus with his 24.3 percent of the vote.
Yes, poor Trumpty dumpty sat on his wall and had a great fall to presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who won the caucus with 27.7 percent.

Marco Rubio came in third, with 23.1 percent, and the percentage of votes began to dwindle with Ben Carson at 9.3 percent and reaching a whopping — or non-whopping — 0 percent for candidate Jim Gilmore.

So, what do this year’s caucus results mean, and do they hold any validity regarding the actual election?

Well, for starters, the Iowa caucuses have had a 43 percent success rate at predicting which Democratic candidate for president and a 50 percent success rate at predicting which Republican candidate for president would inevitably find themselves in the race. So, in my opinion, with basically a fifty-fifty chance of the winner actually showing up on your voters’ ballot next November, this vote really doesn’t change much.

Regardless of their second place ranking in the caucuses, there will still be Air Force planes flying over crowded Trump rallies, and a lot of millennials will still be “feelin’ the Bern.” The only thing we can do is keep ourselves informed on all presidential candidates and secure our registrations to vote in the upcoming elections. Regardless of what political party you stand with, be grateful that we live in a country that allows us to vote and take part in one of the most interesting election years yet.

If your head and your heart don’t seem to be in the same place go to www.isidewith.com/political-quiz and take the quiz to see which candidate most aligns with the issues that are important to you. The answer may surprise you.

About The Author

Cait Schall

Cait Schall is a junior journalism major and the assistant opinion editor for Eagle News. She is a rollerblading enthusiast who enjoys attending sporting events and concerts. Cait is also a proud member of Chi Omega at FGCU. When you can’t find her writing in the newsroom she most likely can be found outside trying something new that’ll probably result in broken bones or at home binge watching her latest Netflix obsession. (Follow Cait on Twitter: @CaitlinSchall)

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