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The Battalion

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Caucus marks milestone for 2016 campaign

After months of campaigning and pandering to the public, a huge milestone on the 2016 Presidential Election trail comes Monday with the Iowa caucuses. 

While it may just be one state out of 50, it’s hugely important when it comes to deciding the turn of elections, largely due to the amount of momentum a candidate can gain if they do well in Iowa. Every candidate who has won the presidency has at least ranked in the top three in Iowa. Frankly, with only six votes in the electoral college, after the caucuses Iowa isn’t a huge bother in elections at all.

Iowa establishes a lot of momentum for candidates and I think it’s likely we’ll see several lower polling candidates drop out from the race, especially after the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primaries.  Iowa isn’t important because of its voter body as its timing in the election field. If candidates can garner a buzz in Iowa, a slinky effect will likely follow.

Candidates have been spending the past few weeks in the state, kissing babies and visiting schools, doing anything to get their name out there to the Iowan people. While the national polls may suggest that there is a large gap between the frontrunners, in Iowa that gap shrinks significantly — on both party sides. 

For the Democratic candidates nationally, Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead, polling at 50.3 percent. Sanders trails at 35.8 percent. But in Iowa, that gap is much narrower: Clinton still leads with 47.4 percent, but Sanders is right behind her at 44.1 percent. 

The same goes for the Republican candidates. Trump has maintained his lead in the polls in Iowa with 32.1 percent, but Cruz isn’t as far behind in Iowa as he is nationally, bringing in 24.1 percent. 

At a caucus, delegates are chosen to represent the state’s interests at the national convention. Republicans choose their delegates through a secret ballot, and Democrats choose theirs through a system of physically gathering and grouping together according to which candidate they support. 

Despite what the polls are telling us right now, though, the only thing that matters is voter turnout. Given the more complicated method of voting a caucus requires, it’s going to come down to which candidate has the most motivated voter body. 

Voter turnout in the Iowa caucus is incredibly low, with only one out of five eligible voters having turned out in the 2012 election. In 2008 Hillary Clinton had been polling better than Barack Obama nationally, but Obama had the boots on the ground and got people to the polls in Iowa, leading to his win in the state. 

Clinton has learned from her mistakes this time around, but Sanders has been able to mobilize voters and draw huge crowds to his rallies. Sanders’ voters have demonstrated some real passion and political activism so far. Because of the low voter turnout, the people who do turnout are generally very politically active, and Sanders has a voting body that is driven. 

For Republicans, it’s likely we’ll see Cruz or Rubio come away victorious. It’s easy to say that you’re voting for Trump when it’s for an online pollster or other, less final prompts, but when it comes down to it, Cruz and Rubio have the more politically active voting body. Iowa has a history of not voting for front runners, which could mean good news for the two candidates. 

After months of campaigning, numerous debates and endless headlines, Monday is a huge day for the candidates. I predict a win for Bernie Sanders and an upset on the Republican side.

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