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Your Guide To An Iowa Caucus In 52 Pictures

I spent caucus night in Newton, Iowa. This is what went down. After reading this post you should know EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about an Iowa caucus. It was awesome.

Posted on January 4, 2012, at 4:47 a.m. ET


Newton is about 40 minutes from Des Moines. They have a Walmart. I got a 5 hour energy there.


The caucuses were held at the Community Heights church. It was HUGE.


I got there an hour and a half before the caucus was supposed to begin.


6 of 9 of Newton's districts, or as they call them, "wards," caucused there.


When people got there around 6ish they signed in at a table in front of the church.


In Iowa, you have to show ID.


After you show your ID, you are given a ballot and a nametag.


Everyone has to wear a nametag. It's like your admittance ticket to the caucus.

A really cute old lady was checking nametags to make sure everyone was wearing one. I had to wear a green one because I was press.


The only other press there was Mike from the Newton Daily News. He was really helpful and gave me a bunch of tips. Mike was profiling an 18-year-old from Newton who was voting for the first time for the paper.


This is Dave. He's the Jasper County Republican chair. He organized the whole thing.


A guy named Greg Heartstill was campaigning for the Iowa House by giving out free hand sanitizer.


It got really crowded around 6:30.


I talked to a bunch of the people there. Everyone was INCREDIBLY friendly. Way more friendly than any presidential candidate meeting event I went to.

This guy still didn't know who he was going to caucus for.


Ron Paul supporter, obviously.


This guy switched parties.

At the Republican caucus you can register to vote or switch parties the day of the caucus.


There were a ton of new registers.


Even more new registers.


Before the caucus started, people were greeting each other and hanging out in the hallway.

I heard the lady on the left talking about how she thought Obama was going to win the election.

She said: "Obama is gonna win anyways. So if we pray in our enough we can change it (his position on abortion). We didn't pray enough when Clinton was President and see what happened. I think if we pray hard enough we can make it happen."


There were A LOT of kids there. Tons of babies.



The caucus was supposed to start at 7, but there were still a bunch of people registering/signing in, so it didn't start until 7:15.


After greeting each other, most people went to their caucus room. The rooms were separated by wards.

23. The wards were, Palo Alto:

24. Bueno Vista/Elk Creek:

25. Newton 3-1:

26. Newton 3-2:

27. Newton 4-1:

This room eventually filled up.

28. Newton 4-2:


Each ward has their own "Chair." The Chair runs the caucus.

This guy was awesome. He was really nice and introduced me to a bunch of people.


Then they pick a secretary. The secretary helps count the votes and reports it to the Chair.

This lady volunteered.


In one of the rooms, the Chair asked whose first caucus this was. The people raising their hands in this picture were caucusing for the first time.


And then the Chair asked if anyone had anything to say about the candidates. He read the candidates names in alphabetical order and if anyone wanted to say something they raised their hand. Everyone was limited to 2 minutes.

Here's what some of the people said.


This guy was for Santorum.

He said: "Rick Santorum's a Godly man. He talks about the Islam and the problems we face."


This lady was for Romney.

One of the things she said was: "Thank goodness I don't believe what I did 20 years ago. I wasn't a born again then."


This guy was for Santorum.

One of the things he said was: "His enemies say it all. Look up his name on the Internet. Don't have your kids because it's filthy and vulgar."


This guy was for Ron Paul.

He ended his speech, which he read off a paper, with: "He's the grandfather of the Tea Party, That's why I'm supporting him and I hope you do too."


This lady was for Perry.

One of the things she said was: "As a born again Christian I am always so pleased when Rick talks about his roots. I like that. It would have to take a miracle, I know he's not going to win."


This guy was for Bachmann.

One of the things he said was: "Glenn Beck said if he had to pull the lever he would pull Michele Bachmann."


After they finish speaking about the candidates, they vote. The votes are collected in a box.

For some reason, you can only fill out the ballot in pencil.

This was the pencil lady.


In one of the rooms there was some guy in a Dominos uniform reading a newspaper in the back. Last minute research.


In another room while they were counting the ballots, the Chair called for an open discussion on issues.

Abortion came up.

The guy said abortion was murder and that if he did what they do to babies, he'd be arrested. The lady surprisingly disagreed with him. She said, "Abortion is a personal decision. It's gonna happen anyway."


I overheard this lady go on a rant about lightbulbs. She wanted to buy the old ones but can't. She was really pissed.


Meanwhile, the ballots were counted.

44. And here were the results, Palo Alto:

45. Buena Vista/Elk Creek:

46. Newton 3-1:

47. Newton 3-2:

48. Newton 4-1:

49. Newton 4-2:

This was the only ward I didn't get a picture of the results, but I did hear them. Here's how it went down:

Perry: 2

Santorum: 11

Newt: 5

Romney: 10

Bachmann: 7

Ron Paul: 11

Huntsman: 0

(The Chair forgot to say Huntsman, but someone in the crowd said something)


After the presidential vote, they have to nominate delegates for the state Republican convention in March. It can be anyone in the room. People were basically nominating their spouses.

After that they pick junior delegates (kids).

And after that they submit stump platforms, which are basically just issues they want the Republican party to discuss. This is one I found. It's an obvious dig at the Iowa judges who ruled in favor of gay marriage.


Everything was then sealed up in a box and the Chairs called in the results.


Everything was completely wrapped up by 8:20, about an hour and 15 minutes after it all began.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.