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For more than 3 decades, the Iowa Precinct Caucuses' Presidential Straw Polls, known as the Iowa caucuses, have dominated the kickoff of the U.S. presidential nomination process. Traditionally placed first among the nomination contests, Iowa's grassroots-heavy precinct-level party meetings grow in importance far beyond the local delegates they select. Since 1976, when former Governor Jimmy Carter (D-GA) won Iowa's straw polls, propelling himself to national prominence, capturing the Democratic nod, and sweeping to the White House over then-President Gerald Ford, candidates, media, and voters alike have seen Iowa winnow the presidential field for the New Hampshire primary that follows.

A caucus is a party meeting. At caucuses, partisans gather to make decisions on whom to back and what to do. In the U.S. presidential nomination system, ...

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