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Primary vs. Caucus: What to do and How Not to be Confused

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MNSU chapter.

The simplified version of what a caucus is can be defined as a presidential candidate holding rallies for supporters in an effort to gain delegates. People gather in a specific setting or area to listen to a particular candidate and ask them the questions most people need to be answered in order to choose who they will vote for to run against the current president. It is kind of like a book club meeting and voting to decide what book the club should read next.

The first democratic caucus was held in 1972 in Iowa with the first Republican caucus being held four years later. Iowa is the first state to hold a caucus each election year because of its complex political process. In 1904, the first primary was held in Florida as a new way for the state to choose its delegates. Today, the popular way to partake in the election process is by primary elections. While a caucus is an informal election run by the political parties and the primary elections are run by state governments. In an open primary, registered voters are able to select whatever candidate they want no matter what party they are affiliated with. In a closed primary, voters must be registered with a political party and they can only vote for candidates within that party. 

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have declined, as to be expected since the individuals first announced their run. There are currently twelve democratic candidates running for president, much more than there usually are for this time in the process. So far, there has been only the one Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary election with the next caucus being held on February 22nd in Nevada and the next primary election being held on February 29th in South Carolina. The top four democratic candidates in order from most delegates to least as of 02/18/2020 are:

  • Pete Buttigieg with 22 delegates

  • Bernie Sanders with 21 delegates

  • Elizabeth Warren with 8 delegates 

  • Amy Klobuchar with 7 delegates.

As you can see, the top two candidates are only one delegate away from each other and the 3rd and 4th candidates are also only one delegate away from each other. To say one candidate or the other with 100% by the 2020 presidential candidate is not doable because of the steep variation from state to state as the primaries and caucuses continue.

Minnesota will be holding a precinct caucus on Tuesday, February 25th at 7 pm at locations selected by the political parties. The Minnesota primary will be held on Tuesday, March 3rd (Super Tuesday) at your designated voting place. To vote, you must be 18 years old by March 3rd to participate. You can register to vote at your voting space. To register to vote and for more information visit https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote and https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/presidential-primary/ to make sure your voice is heard in the 2020 election. Remember, every vote counts and nothing changes if nothing is done. 


See you at the polls, darlings.


Hello! My name is Molly and I am the current Senior Editor for Her Campus @ MSNU and have been a part of the organization since the Spring of 2019! My major is Anthropology with a triple minor in Ethics, philosophy, and Humanities and will be graduating in the Spring of 2022 after studying abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland this Fall 2021. You can usually find me reading and drinking tea in my favorite chair or spending quality time with friends and my pets - a sweet Golden Retriever named Elijah and a cute kitty named Paris Kisses. My articles focus mainly on self-care, wellness, astrology, life-style, and some personal insight as well.
I am senior at MNSU and am studying to get a degree in Marketing with a minor in Mass Media. I love cooking, being around friends and family, going on little adventures, and just having fun.