Scholastic Kids Press Corps
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mitt romney in iowa Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a caucus day rally at the Temple for Performing Arts, Tuesday, January 3, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Election 2012: Iowa Caucuses Today

First test for Republican Presidential hopefuls

By Alysa Goethe | null null , null

After months of debates and campaigning, seven Republicans get their first test in a real election. Today, voters in Iowa are heading to caucus sites across the state to show their support for one of seven Republican candidates.

The seven candidates hoping to win the Iowa caucus are Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, and Texas Representative Ron Paul.

The Iowa caucus is the first official vote of the Presidential primaries. The candidate who wins the caucus earns Iowa’s delegates to the Republican Party convention. The candidate who wins the most delegates during the primary voting usually wins their party’s nomination.

While many people vote the traditional way by filling in a ballot, voters who caucus have a different experience.

"A caucus is more of a gathering of activists,” Chuck Todd, Chief Political Analyst for NBC News, told the Kids Press Corps. "Democrats do caucuses a little bit differently out here than Republicans do. But in this case, what happens is you have 1700 voting locations. And people who are Republican activists here in Iowa gather in their own community — could be at a church, could be at a school, could be at someone’s house. And in this case, the way these caucuses work, you’ll have people who represent all the candidates give speeches and then on a secret ballot write their preference after the speeches. So there’s one more chance to persuade people who might go in undecided.”

It takes a lot of work to make sure the Iowa caucus goes off without a hitch. Some of the planning includes educating voters and finding all of those 1700 locations where people will caucus.

In December, I talked to the chairwomen of the Scott County Republican Party, Judy Davidson. Davidson and the rest of the Scott County Republican Party were working hard to prepare for today’s caucus.

"Right now, we are finding locations for some of the events we have planned,” Davidson said. "The events will give the voters some more information on what the caucus is and what will be going on for the caucus on January 3.”

Part of the preparation was caucus training for everyone involved with the Iowa caucus. The training was for election workers so they know what to do when the caucus events and dates come up. At the training, people learned how to set up, direct people, and keep things running at the caucus sites.

Today’s vote is the last stop for the candidates who have spent months campaigning in Iowa. Some of them, like Rick Perry, took bus tours across the states. Others, like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, spent a lot of time at campaign events meeting voters.

Bachmann has found some success in Iowa. In August, she won the Ames Straw Poll. But recently she has found herself polling near the bottom of the field. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are leading recent polls of Iowa voters.

Stay with the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps and Scholastic News Online for the results of the Iowa caucus and the latest campaign news!

To find out more information about the republican caucus events in eastern Iowa, go to

Additional reporting by Kid Reporter Elena Hildebrandt.


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