The Daily Iowan

Daily Iowan’s guide to the 2020 caucuses

The famed first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are fast approaching and Iowans across the state will pledge their support for a candidate Feb. 3. As the first state on the presidential nominating calendar, the eyes of the nation trained on the Hawkeye State. The DI has everything you need to know to plan ahead.


What happens?

What do I need in order to caucus?

Johnson County caucus locations

Who’s running?

What happens next?


The caucuses, for both Democrats and Republicans, will be held on Feb. 3. Unlike primary elections, which generally have polls open for voting all day, the caucuses begin at 7 p.m., and prospective caucusgoers will need to show up then in order to participate. Depending on the number of attendees, a caucus can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

What happens?

At the Democratic caucuses, participants will break up into groups based on their presidential preference. If a candidate fails to garner 15 percent of attendees at the caucus site — this is called gaining “viability”— that candidate’s supporters will be given the chance to join another group or gain enough supporters to reach viability. Delegates are awarded based on a final count of these groups.

One important note — if a candidate reaches viability in the first alignment, that candidate’s supporters are locked in and unable to change later on.

A Republican caucus is conducted through what is called a “straw poll.” Caucusgoers write the name of their preferred candidate on a piece of paper and hand it to a designated official. The final tallies are counted up and delegates are awarded based on the final numbers.

Daily Iowan politics reporters and editors want to answer your questions about the Iowa caucuses this week.

Ask us a question by filling out this form and we’ll pick as many questions as we can to answer on our podcast The Cloakroom and online.

What do I need in order to caucus?

You need to be registered with a party in order to participate in that party’s caucus. You can register online — or change your voter registration in order to participate — at the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. 

You can also register or change parties on the night of the caucuses. The Iowa Democratic Party is not requiring any materials be brought for registration or participation, but you need to know the last four digits of your social security number or Iowa driver’s license number to fill out the registration form. You will need to bring an ID to register at the Republican caucuses, according to the party’s website. 

For more information visit the Iowa Democratic Party site and the Iowa Republican Party site.

Caucus locations in Johnson County

The Democratic caucuses will take place at 1,678 caucus sites around the state.

The Iowa Democratic Party has also designated 99 satellite caucuses beyond the regular caucus sites, including seven in Iowa City.

The Republicans will have 1,683 caucus locations around the state on caucus night.

Related: Johnson County Democrats, Republicans, announce caucus locations

Navigate through this interactive map to find out your caucus location according to party affiliation.

Editor’s note: In The Daily Iowan‘s printed caucus guide published Jan. 27 incorrectly stated the caucus site of four precincts in Iowa City. All precincts in the interactive map are correct. The DI regrets the error.

Who’s running?

Twelve Democrats and three Republicans are running for their party’s presidential nomination. Click to learn more about them and their stances on various issues.

Related: Meet the 2020 hopefuls

What happens next?

Feb. 11: New Hampshire primary

Feb. 22: Nevada Democratic caucuses

Feb. 29: South Carolina Democratic primary

March 3: Super Tuesday

March 14: Iowa Republican county conventions

March 21: Iowa Democratic county conventions

April 25: Iowa Democratic and Republican district conventions

June 13: Iowa Democratic and Republican state conventions

July 13 — July 16: Democratic National Convention

Aug. 24 — Aug. 27: Republican National Convention

  • Republican South Carolina primary
  • Republican Nevada caucuses

The Republican Parties of South Carolina and Nevada canceled their primaries and caucuses in solidarity with President Trump, dedicating their delegates to the incumbent.