The Iowa caucuses are biennial electoral events for members of the Democratic and Republican parties in the state of Iowa. Unlike primary elections in most other U.S. states where registered voters go to polling places to cast ballots, Iowans instead gather at local caucus meetings to discuss and vote on the candidates.
During both the presidential and midterm election seasons, registered Iowan voters vote in a per-precinct caucus for the party they are registered as a member.
The caucuses are also held to select delegates to county conventions and party committees, among other party activities.
The Iowa caucuses are noteworthy as the first major contest of the United States presidential primary season. Though the demographics of Iowa are not representative of the rest of the country, the caucuses are still seen as a strong indicator for how a presidential candidate will do in later contests. It can provide candidates with momentum going into the following contests. Candidates who do poorly in their caucus are likely to drop out in the following days.