Johnson County Attendance:
Democrats: 19,513
Republicans: 7,227
Total: 26, 740


Voter Registration Statistics

Excel Format - February 16, 2016 - caucus data entry complete
Excel Format - January 29, 2016 (last update before caucuses)

Date Election/Event Dem Rep Green Libt None Total
1/29/2016 Pre-Caucus 37,573 17,582 196 444 30,736 86,531
2/16/2016 Caucus Entry Complete 42,909 19,529 132 364 26,949 89,883
  Change +5,336 +1,947 -64 -80 -3,787 +3,352
Date Election/Event Dem Rep Green Libt None
1/29/2016 Pre-Caucus 43.42% 20.32% 0.23% 0.51% 35.52%
2/16/2016 Caucus Entry Complete 47.74% 21.73% 0.15% 0.40% 29.98%
  Change +4.32% +1.41% -0.08% -0.11% -5.545

Delegates to the nation conventions that nominate each party's presidential candidate are elected in a process that begins here in Iowa.

The Iowa caucuses are not conducted by our office, since they are not an election. The caucuses are a meeting conducted by the two (2) full status political parties (Democratic and Republican), which set the rules and procedures. But we get most of the questions, so we'll answer them. (Some of the answers are "talk to the parties.")

When are the Caucuses?

The caucuses were Monday, February 1, 2016

The Republican and Democratic Parties are each responsible for setting their own caucus date. Even though it's not required by law, historically Iowa Democrats and Republicans have worked together to keep the caucuses on the same night and before any other caucus or primary in the nation.

Since 2008, the Republican and Democratic national committees have both agreed on four (4)  designated early primary and caucus states, in this order: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. In 2016, these four (4) states are allowed to have caucuses or primaries in February, and no other states are allowed to have contest until March.

In recent years other states have broken national party rules and moved their contests earlier to compete with and challenge Iowa's first in the nation role. In response, Iowa and the other early states have moved their dates even earlier. In both2008 and 2012, the caucuses were on January 3rd, the earliest date ever. However, in 2016 other states followed the national parties' rules, and the caucuses remained on February 1. This was the latest date since 1996.

The most detailed resource for the national primary and caucus calendar is Professor Josh Putnam's Frontloading HQ site,

Where is my caucus?

Locations as reported by Johnson County Democrats and Republicans.

The Democrats have a caucus site search tool. So do the Republicans.

It is possible that the Republican and Democratic caucuses for your precinct will be in different locations, and it is likely that your caucus site will be different than your polling place. Please note that many precincts are in different locations than the traditional sites from past years.

Is there early voting?

There is no early voting in the caucuses. You must be physically present at your designated caucus site on caucus night to participate. For nearly everyone, this will mean the caucus for the precinct where you live.

Both parties approved rule changes that allow a tele-caucus for overseas voters, to be held at the same time as the precinct caucus. The Democrats also approved a very limited program of off-site caucuses. A total of four (4) Democratic satellite caucuses were held statewide.

In Johnson County, Democrats had a satellite caucus at the Oaknoll Retirement Community. It was open to Oaknoll residents and staff only. The registration deadline was January 6.

Do I need ID?

NO. Since it's not an election, the parties set the rules, and both parties decided not to ask for ID. (This is a CORRECTION from previous information.)

So if the caucuses aren't an election, what are they and what do they do?

The caucus are the precinct-level organizational meeting of the political parties and the first step of what Iowa calls the "caucus to convention" process. One part of that process is the election of delegates to the party's county convention.

The county conventions elect delegates to congressional district and state conventions. The district and state conventions choose the national convention delegates who will actually nominate the presidential candidate.

Thus, the Iowa precinct caucuses are the first official step in choosing the national candidates.

Do I have to pick a party? Can independents caucus?

You must register with the party whose caucus you attend. You can do this on caucus night.

You can walk IN as a member of another party or no party, but you walk OUT as a member of the party you caucused with.

Both parties will have sign-in lists of voters currently registered with that party in your precinct. If your name does not appear on you precinct's pre-printed list, both parties will require you to fill out a new registration form. Republicans printed their lists beginning December 23, and Johnson County Democratic lists were updated through January 8.

Do other parties have caucuses?

No, just Democrats and Republicans. Under Iowa law, only full-status political parties have official caucuses. Iowa has a second level of party status called "political organization.' The Greens and Libertarians have organization status, but state law does not address the issue of caucuses for organization status parties. They are of course free to have a meeting at the same time and call it whatever they wish.

How long is this going to take?

You should probably set aside your whole evening. Exactly how long it takes will depend on your precinct and on how much of the meeting you want to participate in. Not to be partisan, but if the only thing you are interested in is expressing your personal preference for president, the Democratic caucus will probably take more time.

Plan to arrive early if possible. In an election, voters come and go all day, but at the caucus everyone arrives at about the same time, so there may be lines at the sign-in table.

We also strongly encourage carpooling, walking, or using public transit if possible. Parking at most sites is very limited.

I'm a high school senior. Can I participate?

Maybe. Anyone who will be 18 on or before presidential election day (born on or before November 8, 1998) can participate in the caucuses.

Can I bring the kids? What about my friend who's visiting from out of state?

Children are welcome but the event will challenge the patience of younger kids (and some adults, too). If you need child care accommodations you should contact the party well in advance.

If your children are older, both parties have youth participation programs for teens who will not be 18 by November 8, 2016; contact the parties for details.

Guest may attend caucuses to observe but may not participate.
They may be asked to stay in a separate area from participants.

Do I get a secret ballot? What's this thing about standing in a corner?

The two (2) parties have different rules.

The Democratic Party elects county convention delegates by presidential preference group, rather than the whole caucus. At the time delegates are elected, the caucus splits up into preference groups - supporters of each candidate gather in different parts of the room.

-A presidential preference group must have at least 15% (called "viability") pf the precinct's total number of caucus attendees in order to elect the county convention delegates.

-Participants are allowed to regroup if their candidate has too few supporters to choose a delegate or if they decide to support another candidate.


The Republican Party conducts a straw poll for President by secret ballot. The whole caucus then elects delegates and alternates to the county convention.

-Straw poll? Isn't that a big thing in Ames?
The even commonly called "the Ames straw poll" was not the actual caucus. It was a Republican Party fun raising event held the year before the caucus, in August, from 1979 to 2011. The Republican Party cancelled this event for 2015.

There is also a straw poll held as part of the caucus itself. Keep reading.

What happens after the caucuses?

Well, the other 49 states have their say.

I meant here in Iowa.

Parties need to turn in paperwork and registrations to our office.

The parties begin their preparation for county conventions, held in March. Committees meet to discuss the platform and arrange the convention.

Congressional district conventions are held in April, and the state conventions are in June.

Republican National Convention, July 18-21, 2016, Cleveland

Democratic National Convention, July 25-28, 2016, Philadelphia

So why IS Iowa first anyways?

Short version: kind of by accident. Long version: We recommend Why Iowa? How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process by professor David Redlawsk, Caroline Tolbert, and Todd Donovan.

How do I find out more? Who are the candidates? Do they have headquarters?

Since the Democrats have no ballots and the Republicans have write-in ballots, there's not a formal process for "getting on the caucus ballot." You can caucus for anyone. Politics 1 is a very objective website that lists pretty much anyone who is or might possible become a candidate, including the candidates of smaller parties.

Usually, several presidential campaigns open offices in Johnson County during caucus season.

The following candidates were announced and actively campaigning as of February 1:


  • Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton (NY)
    Local office: 361 E. College St.
  • Former Gov. Martin O'Malley (MD)
    Local office: 1570 S. 1st Ave, Suite N
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
    Local office: 702 Gilbert St

There offices closed soon after the caucuse


  • Former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL)
  • Dr. Ben Carson (FL)
  • Gov. Chris Christie (NJ)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)
  • Carly Fiorina (CA)
  • Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (VA)
  • Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR)
  • Gove John Kasich (OH)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (KY)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (FL)
  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA)
  • Donald Trump (NY)

You keep telling me to contact the parties. How do I do that?

Johnson County Democrats
Phone: 319-337-8683
2015-16 Chair: Martha Hedburg
Iowa Democratic Party

Johnson County Republicans
Phone: 319-339-8381
2015-16 Chair: Bill Keettel
Republican Party of Iowa

If you call during the day you'll probably need to leave a message. The county parties are volunteer organizations, and Bill and Martha both have jobs. They or one of the other party officers will get back to you as soon as they can.

Past Johnson County Caucus Results

Because the caucuses aren't election, we're not in charge of results. We'll share them anyway because people ask. The results below were provided by the parties or reported to the press.

Democrats report only delegate counts and do not report any vote totals.

Republicans report straw vote totals. They do not report delegate counts since delegates are not officially committed to candidates. Also note that while Republicans still have a caucus in years, when a Republican president is seeking re-election, they do not have a straw vote so there are no results to report.

  • January 3, 2012: Democrats, Republican
  • January 3, 2008
  • January 19, 2004 (Democrats only)
  • January 24, 2000
  • February 12, 1996
  • February 10, 1992 (Democrats only)
  • February 8, 1988
  • February 20, 1984 (Democrats only)