2016: The Iowa Primary, Explained

It’s that time of the year again.

Yup. That time of the year.

Lemme tell you something. Where I come from, Iowa? Pretty much nobody cares about us most of the time. Nothing much happens around here, that’s for sure. I suppose I might could’ve dig up some news around here someplace, but this is Iowa. Why’d we want to go looking for a commotion? It just isn’t sensible.

Yup. I reckon you guys have all seen the news by now. The presidential elections are coming up, and we’re the first state that gets to put the constitution’s “power to the people” thing into play. This usually mean three things.

One, all the talking heads on TV couldn’t shut up about Iowa for about anywhere from, my reckoning, a month to a year. We go from your average American state to some mythical magic-land where suddenly our every move and motive become scrutinized. You’ll hear numbers. You’ll hear “polls” and “trends” and “frontrunner.” Ignore them. They’re just words. They don’t mean much.

Two, all of a sudden you get a bunch of politicians wandering about the neighborhood, shaking hands and kissing babies and attending state fairs and whatnots. In an attempt to be more like you so you like them enough to at least give them your vote, they’re gonna do everything from trying to shuck corn to eating pork chops to whatever it is that’s “your” thing to do in your home area. Meanwhile their people canvas the entire state and try to get you to vote for their person of choice, and you may or not be sent letters, e-mails, or phone calls about donating money to their cause. They’ll do this a whole lot until the day of the primary, where then you’ll never see any of ’em again until maybe four years later if they’re gonna run again.

Maybe they’ll show up once or twice again for the presidential election itself. Maybe. But really I wouldn’t count on it.

Now, this is Iowa. People are generally pretty nice about the whole thing. If you politely tell ’em no the first time, they usually won’t come bother again. If you live somewhere where they’re more persistent, though, lemme share with you a trick my sister uses. Before the election season heats up, Jer goes out and buys a big boatload of those little flag thingies with pins on the end. She sticks the lot of ’em right up her lawn and all around the hedges, and that sends a signal loud and clear. Clear enough that she usually don’t get bothered at all.

Now, she tells me the secret’s that you can’t just put one up in your lawn. People are gonna think that you might be worth a shot and try to pester you even more so they think they can talk you out of it. Stick ’em all over your front lawn. Make it an eyesore. I guarantee you people’ll be steering clear.

Three, I’ve never seen one day of good weather on primary day. Ever. Now, fine, it’s something you just gotta do every four years, but just don’t complain too hard if there’s a freak blizzard. Some of us have to brave the freeze, you know?

Now,  I know some of you guys here aren’t from around here, so here’s how it works. Here in America, before we elect the president, we have a thing called the primary election, which is basically the big political parties decides which one of their candidates they wanna push out and have that guy or gal run for president. The big two in America now are the Democratic Party (The democrats, dems, “liberals”) and the Republican Party (The republicans. ‘cons. “conservatives”. You’ll also see “GOP”).

Kinda a color thing, too, but you’ll hear “red state” and “blue state.” You’ll honestly see plenty of red white and blue around these times anyways, but what these words mean is that there are some states that tend to vote for one or the other. Generally, democrats are “blue,” and republicans are “red.” The democrats use a donkey as their symbol, and the republicans use an elephant.

Anyways, Iowa has what we call a “caucus.” A caucus is basically a bunch of people from a political party coming together to decide a leader for that party. For us Iowans, our process is not that common among other states. For one, we don’t allow absentee ballots. You literally have to get up, put on your pants, and go to one of the hundreds of sites depending on which one of the thousand-something districts you live in to vote for a particular party’s candidate.

Secondly, the caucus thing? That’s where half the fun is. See, each precinct has representatives, and they will make last-minute arguments to try to get you to vote for the guy that they’re standing for. While the democrats and the republicans do thing a little differently, the general gist is the same. They will talk to you. Your friends, your neighbors, you’ll see them. You’re with them. You will be yelled at, words will be exchanged, and they will quite figuratively tell you, “come and vote for my guy.”

Yeah, it’s complicated. The Republican side’s a bit easier to get. People show up. The precinct captains make their speeches, then you cast a secret ballot for the guy you wanna vote for. Sometimes even the candidates themselves are there, too. The democrats? Each voting precinct gets a number of caucus delegates based on how big the Democratic voter was during the last two elections were. Then, depending on how well each candidate does in the caucus itself, get assigned to the candidate in proportion. Kinda like a mini-version of America’s electoral college.

What’s more, the democratic caucus is open. How it works is that when you go to one of these precinct sites, you first go to a corner based on your candidate. So, with this election, we’re gonna see Hillary, Sanders, and O’Malley voters all in different corners of the room. If a candidate doesn’t get more than 15% of voters in his corner, those voters are free to go home. Generally what it means is that the other candidates can try to grab these voters, and this’d be on top of the usual lobbying and jostling and shouting and talking and persuading voters.

Yeah, fun times, but unfortunately, I won’t be there myself. I’m on active duty around this time. This year is a bit special, though, since the Democrats and the Republicans are both offering exceptions to active-duty military service members, Iowans living overseas, or just those who have trouble trekking through a blizzard to get to the location.

I’ll be honest. I don’t like the pandering. I don’t like politicians. I especially don’t like politicians that tell me what I should hear or thinks he know exactly what I want to hear. As a responsible citizen of any country, much less American, it’s your one job to actually know what’ll be running your country. I don’t care if you support Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. I only pray to God that you have a good reason for why you support either of them. That’s all. You owe it to no one but yourself and your country to stay informed.

Go vote.



Morgane: Team effort?

K9: Yeah, team effort.

Morgane: You wanna actually take this one, Sima?

Sima: Okay!

So, at the beginning, I didn’t really know what I would be drawing. For one thing, I live in China. I have no idea what an election looks like, much less a primary. So at first, I baidu’d (translator’s note: CHINESE GOOGLE) up some stuff, and then I drew a chibi-Iowa staring at a large ballot box.

I wanted to draw Iowa and her sisters first, but then I thought, maybe we can tie this in a bit more with contemporary events. So I asked Morgane to tell me a little more about each of the candidates, and I went drawing.

Morgane: Ignore the legitimate possibility of at least some of these guys being part of Pacific lore proper thanks to how our fairies work in principle, it was a real challenge for me to explain to Sima about our American memes. I’m sure a lot of you might know some of these already, but if you don’t, I’ll explain in the forums.

(I know I can’t really say nice things about my own team, but of course I love it. I think this is great. And, as Iowa noted, we’re not politically affiliated with anyone. We’re just reflecting on an impression of things, based on some “hard” evidence like polls! xD)

I’ll give you one thing to start, though. Please google, “Donald Trump AMV: Attack on Mexico.” (Should be on Vimeo) I think you might get why we decided to drew Trump this way. 😉

Sima & Co.: Anyways, a big thank you to our readers. We wouldn’t have gotten this done so quickly (really, it got finished in about a day or so) without you guys. 🙂


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