The Iowa Caucus is the first major electoral event in presidential elections. This year's caucus will be held on Thursday, January 3. The caucus itself is not an election where citizens are able to vote for their preferred candidate. Instead, citizens gather and choose delegates who will eventually attend their respective party's national convention. The particular candidate who receives the most support (either through a straw poll, used by the Republican Party, or by a viability threshold, used by Democrats) is said to be the winner at the caucus.
The importance of the caucus is that it sets the tone for the primary election season. The winner of the Iowa caucus usually becomes stronger as potential contributors multiply. Furthermore, the winner of the Iowa Caucus arrives at the New Hampshire primaries (the next major electoral event) with tangible momentum. Candidates who make a strong showing at these two events are usually considered for the party nomination. A candidate who wins both is almost certain to receive the nomination. The dynamics of these elections are quite interesting, and all politically-conscious citizens should pay special attention.
At this time, the Des Moines Register poll has Republican candidate Mike Huckabee ahead by 4 points, and the Democratic candidate Barack Obama is ahead by 7 points. Hopefully, for me, this poll is sufficiently accurate to predict an Obama victory.
Feel free to discuss your thoughts about the electoral process and the various candidates.