Whew...I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to make the title as confusing as the caucuses.
From a person who has not only reported on caucuses, but has also been "an elected delegate" from a heartland of America presidential caucus...allow me to explain the process.
Please note, the following only applies in Des Moines, The Bluffs and College Towns, from a purely procedure perspective. However, since over 90% of the delegates will come from East Nowhereville...all of what follows does apply to MOST of Corn Central.
You arrive at the library, gymnasium, or other appropriately sized facility, slightly on-time. You see who wants to run the show...which you can tell by who brought the painter's tape, chalk, magic markers, poster board and other key items. You see people you know, but may not have seen since 2008. You're shocked because you though old man Creech died in the 80's. You realize there's no need for a secret ballot, since EVERYONE in this group KNOWS EVERYTHING about FOUR GENERATIONS OF EVERY FAMILY REPRESENTED IN THE ROOM ANYWAY.
You're amazed at the willingness of CERTAIN PEOPLE to remind you of something you ALLEGEDLY DID to one of her father's sheep (and/or chickens) TWENTY YEARS AGO...to influence your vote.
Everyone who was kinda on time...bitches about the others who aren't there, polls the group to find out who told who they were really coming...A round of calls go out to people you think will both support your guy and can get there before the rest opt to lock the doors...all the while, signs are made and parts of the room identified as being where supporters of respective candidates will stand.
The doors are locked. The caucus is called to Order.
Can ya FEEL me? You can't cut this kind of tension with a laser.
The Romney, Paul and Santorum people are feelin' pretty good. They won't have to combine with anybody to get a delegate.
Yes...I said "combine". Ya see...at a caucus...it doesn't really matter what the raw support numbers are...because unless you have enough support to get a delegate, you just remove yourself from the Huntsman Area...and join another group, OR...the Uncommitted/No Preference Area.
Finally...when all remaining Areas, have enough support to receive Delegates or Alternates...a final count is made, a tally entered, and then...in each support group, delegates and alternates are elected from within the group. If...you are a group made up of Bachmann, Perry and Huntsman and Uncommitted supporters...and you're entitled to one delegate and one alternate...it could be a verrrry long evening. Not to worry though...there's usually a decent party somewhere afterward...to celebrate the biggest victory since Coon Rapids - Bayard beat Remson - Union in the State 8 Man Football Champine-ship Game in 1937.
And, of course...if you were the one Huntsman supporter who lost out in the vote for an Uncommitted Alternate to the Gary Johnson supporter...who just happens to own the Stop-n-Shop...and who promised "free pop & coffee" to anybody who voted for him...well, you can find a place to drown your sorrows...just like the night you missed that free throw which cost Emmetsburg its one and only ever shot at a 1A State Basketball Trophy.
So...why did I take this little shuffle down memory lane?
CNN won't tell you anything more tonight...than that Rick Santorum shocked the world with an amazing 1st, 2nd or 3rd Place finish. They will downplay Romney, unless he KILLS. They will crucify Ron Paul EVEN IF HE GETS EVERY VOTE AND DELEGATE. They will crucify Gingrich...because he deserves it. They will demand to know why Michele Bachmann believes she has any right to continue...but, continue to assist her in evading an actual answer to their own question. They will second-guess Jon Huntsman...to fill time before going LIVE to Gary Johnson and Donald Trump for "reaction" to "the results". And of course, Wolf will be in the Situation Room's toilet, asking the immortal questions...
"What does it all mean...and, Why do I CONTINUE to get paid for doing this?"
No one will report the names of the local delegates or alternates, or how pissed the people are, who had to combine...or the people who just left because they didn't want to combine.
Neither Rick Santorum, nor Michele Bachmann will "show up at ALL 99 IOWA COUNTIES".
And...even though, right AFTER I come out of oral surgery in a couple hours...I'll make the definitive call on Iowa, Pre-Caucus...the truth of the matter is...other than pumping about $50 Million Dollars into Iowa's desheveled economy over the las four years...the Iowa Caucuses are far, far, far more about Iowa...and The Iowayans Brothers...than any of the candidates...and do, and should, have virtually no impact on Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue...or even Hollywood Boulevard.
Congratulations...not to the candidates...but to the folks in Baxter, Waterloo, Sigourney and other locations in Iowa who MIGHT get to attend what could be the most interesting republican convention since folks stopped wearing Stovepipe hats.
More when I get out of the dentist chair.