Cedar Falls, Iowa, precinct caucus on Feb. 1. 2016. Credit: Leziga Barikor/Northern Iowan for IowaWatch

News Quiz: See What You Know About the Impact of Iowa Caucuses on State’s Registered Voters

Iowa Democratic Party leaders are trying to fix problems party members saw in the 2016 presidential precinct caucuses, which had their fair share of overloaded rooms, missed opportunities for some registered Democrats to participate fully and coin flips to determine county convention delegate commitments.

One idea to be considered this fall when party leaders take up recommended changes in how the caucuses work is letting people who cannot attend still register their preference for president.

Whether that recommendation from a party committee led by former U.S. Rep. and party chairman David Nagle, of Waterloo, becomes the game plan for the 2020 caucuses still is to be determined. Something is needed, several Democratic Party of Iowa leaders have suggested, after a chaotic night Feb. 1, 2016, at the party’s presidential campaign precinct caucuses.

The pressure on Democrats for a cleaner spectacle than existed in 2016 is similar to what faced Republicans after 2012, when they had difficulty determining who won its straw poll — Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were declared winners at different times. Republicans reported no such glitches in 2016.

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Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats and Republicans have worked together in recent decades to preserve Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus status and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status. The reason: “Once you give it up, you’ll never get it back,” Nagle said in this IowaWatch Connection radio and podcast report.

“It’s great for Iowa, but that’s not why we should be first. The process, with the amount of money now that’s funneled into presidential campaigns, needs two small states where the candidates can get known more personally to the voters, and where the terrain is the level where the politics is clean, where the states are affordable, to give anyone that thinks they might want to be president of the United States an opportunity to make his or her case.”

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