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Iowa caucuses: Here’s why Iowa goes first and why it matters


After more than a year of campaigning, the U.S.’ political parties will begin the process of narrowing down their field of candidates vying for the office of the President at the Iowa caucuses on Monday evening.

Over the weekend, Democratic hopefuls made their final pitches to Iowans, laying out their arguments for why they have the best chance of winning the 2020 general election.

The Republican party, too, will caucus on Monday.

Iowa kickstarts America’s months-long primary season leading up to the National Conventions.

Why does Iowa get to go first and why does it matter?

Here’s what experts say.

Iowa is the first state to vote in the country’s primary season, but it wasn’t always this way.

In 1968, after U.S. President Richard Nixon was elected, the Democratic National Convention decided it would implement a number of reforms in an effort to make the nomination process more democratic.

Iowa has one of the most complex primary processes with precinct caucuses, county conventions, district conventions and state conventions.

In order to accommodate the lengthy process, the convention decided moved Iowa’s caucus to early February. This began in 1972.

Karen Kedrowski, a professor of political science at Iowa State University, said the Iowa Democratic Party did not realize at the time that it had “leapfrogged” New Hampshire in order to become the first contest.

“Nobody else really noticed either,” she said. “The 1972 caucuses in Iowa were quite a subdued affair. It was not until 1976 when a little known governor from Georgia, Jimmy Carter, decided that he wanted to use the Iowa caucuses as a way of launching his national campaign.”

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