Caucuses Matter, Even in Off Years

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

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By Rachel Begle

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - Tuesday night political activists will gather together across Iowa for the 2014 caucus. Held every two years, the caucus doesn't get the attention it does in a presidential year, but the decisions made still have a big impact.

In Linn County, this year all Republicans will gather together and caucus at one place, inside the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Cedar Rapids. While Democrats will be spread out at 11 sites around the county.

Typically in an off year, turn out isn't nearly as high as what it is during a presidential election year. Party leaders on both sides have been making phone calls, placing ads, writing letters and putting out pleas on social media trying to increase turnout. While this years' caucus goers won't get a chance at naming who they think should lead the country, they do have a say in who will represent the party at county conventions and what direction the party's agenda should go.

"It's a good opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors. In the winter time, you don't see them very often. [It's] also [a good time to] discuss the issues that are important to them," Bret Nilles, Chair of Linn Co. Democrats, said. "We've got minimum wage issues, affordable health care, protecting veterans as they come home and also what other values they think are important to them."

"The caucus is the grassroots part of our process it's where everything starts. It's critically important for people to participate," said Cindy Golding, Chair of Linn Co. Republicans.

To take part in the caucus, Iowans must be an eligible voter and be a registered democrat or republican. Both parties' caucuses begin at 7 p.m.

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