Iowa Caucuses begin: 5 things to know

The Iowa Caucuses will go into motion Monday night. Here are five things to know about the process.

1. On Feb. 1, registered Iowa voters can participate in the precinct caucuses. Voters have the option to register on the day of the caucus, and they are held in every county in Iowa in community gathering spaces like schools and churches.

2. Iowa has used the caucus process since 1846, according to the Republican Party of Iowa, but it only truly gained prominence in the early 1970s. A caucus is "a party-organized meeting of neighbors who discuss issues and candidates," the Republican site reads, distinguishing it from a primary.

3. Each party conducts the process slightly differently. The Republicans conduct a preference poll and tally the votes for each candidate. The Democrats physically form preference groups by standing in a corner of the room designated for each candidate based on their preference. Once every group is viable, or large enough to elect at least one delegate to the county convention, delegates are elected. Whichever candidate has the most state delegate equivalents wins.

4. The caucuses receive quite a bit of media attention, which can later give candidates significant momentum because they are the first electoral event in the process of selecting the next President of the U.S. However, delegates from the caucuses go to district and state conventions, where delegates are chosen to ultimately attend the national conventions in July. According to The New York Times, only about 1 percent of delegates at the national conventions come from Iowa.

5. Watch the results unfold in real time for the Democratic Party of Iowa here and for the Republican Party of Iowa here. The caucuses begin at 7:00 p.m. CT.

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