With close polling margins for both the Democrats and Republicans, the Iowa caucus promises to keep candidates and their supporters on the edge of their seat. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have polling leads as late as the day before the caucuses, it’s not too late to see a major surprise: In 2012, eventual winner Rick Santorum was polling in third place according to polling history from RealClearPolitics.
The caucuses will begin Monday, February 1 at 7 p.m. Central. The process differs for Republicans and Democrats, with each offering a quirk that may make getting results take a while. Republican caucus-goers will hear a short appeal from each campaign, then cast a secret ballot; the number of active campaigns, however, may make those short appeals add up. Democrats, meanwhile, “vote with their feet,” breaking up into groups publicly supporting their candidate. If a candidate receives less than 15 percent support from a particular precinct, that candidate is considered “non-viable,” and his or her supporters are asked to either leave or support another candidate. With Martin O’Malley polling around Sanders’s deficit, the battle for his supporters might mean that final results aren’t available for quite some time after the events begin.