Come funzionano i caucus

Res publica   01.02.16  

Guida minima per capire le primarie-non-primarie che iniziano oggi in Iowa. Prima tappa della corsa alla nomina dei candidati alla presidenza degli Stati Uniti.

Un po' storia sui caucus e le primarie americane.

In the early 20th century there was a movement to give more power to citizens in the selection of candidates for the party's nomination. The primary election developed from this reform movement. In a primary election, registered voters may participate in choosing the candidate for the party's nomination by voting through secret ballot, as in a general election.

Le origini del termine caucus.

The origin of the word caucus is debated, but it is generally agreed that it first came into use in the English colonies of North America.

A February 1763 entry in the diary of John Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts, is one of the earliest appearances of Caucas, already with its modern connotations of a "smoke-filled room" where candidates for public election are pre-selected in private:

This day learned that the Caucas Clubb meets at certain Times in the Garret of Tom Daws, the Adjutant of the Boston Regiment. He has a large House, and he has a moveable Partition in his Garrett, which he takes down and the whole Clubb meets in one Room. There they smoke tobacco till you cannot see from one End of the Garrett to the other. There they drink Phlip I suppose, and there they choose a Moderator, who puts Questions to the Vote regularly, and select Men, Assessors, Collectors, Wardens, Fire Wards, and Representatives are Regularly chosen before they are chosen in the Town...

An article in Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896 surveying famous presidential campaigns of the past, begins with an unsourced popular etymology of the origin of the caucus:

The Origin of the "Caucus"
The presidential nominating convention is a modern institution. In the early days of the Republic a very different method was pursued in order to place the candidates for the highest office in the land before the people.

In the first place, as to the origin of the "caucus." In the early part of the eighteenth century a number of caulkers connected with the shipping business in the North End of Boston held a meeting for consultation. That meeting was the germ of the political caucuses which have formed so prominent a feature of our government ever since its organization.

No wholly satisfactory etymology has been documented. James Hammond Trumbull suggested to the American Philological Association that it comes from an Algonquian word for "counsel", 'cau´-cau-as´u'. The word might also derive from the Algonquian cawaassough, meaning an advisor, talker, or orator. This explanation was favoured by Charles Dudley Warner. The American Heritage Dictionary suggests that it possibly derived from medieval Latin caucus, meaning "drinking vessel", such as might have been used for the flip drunk at Caucus Club of colonial Boston.

An analogical Latin-type plural "cauci" is occasionally used.

Cosa sono i caucus e quali sono le principali differenze con le primarie. C'entra chi paga e chi gestisce le consultazioni.

The main difference between a primary election and a caucus is who is running the show. State governments conduct primaries, but state parties are behind caucuses. State governments fund and run primary elections in much the same way they do the general election in the fall. Voters go to a polling place, vote, and leave. The primary election was a Progressive-era reform intended to reduce the potential for mischief in a nomination system controlled by the parties.

Come si svolgono i caucus.

[...] voters in each local precinct (there are 1,774) gather in gyms, bars and basements to openly discuss the presidential election, not just vote for a specific candidate. Supporters give impassioned speeches on behalf of their candidate, attempting to sway the undecided folks in the room. Unlike primaries, caucuses are held at a specific time of the day, the only time when voters can cast their ballot.

Partiti diversi. Caucus diversi.
I democrati li fanno complicati.

The Democratic caucuses are far more complicated — they're rowdy hours-long, public affairs, with back-and-forth debate among attendees who have to go physically stand with other supporters of their preferred candidate ... There's no secret ballot, and if a Democratic candidate doesn't get enough supporters in a precinct (15 percent of attendees), he or she is eliminated, reality-show style.

Poi ci sono i repubblicani.

Before the vote, each campaign is able to have an official representative deliver a short speech on behalf of the candidate (usually a local supporter, volunteering for the task). The votes are in fact all write-in votes — caucus attendees are each given a blank piece of paper, onto which they write the name of the candidate of their choice. Afterwards, the local precinct will count up the votes, with campaign representatives allowed to observe the process.

Dal 1976 il risultato del voto nei caucus in Iowa e nelle primarie del New Hampshire anticipa spesso il candidato vincente alle convention democratiche e repubblicane.

Since 1976, when proliferating primaries and caucuses became the basis for selecting convention delegates, every single nominee but one, in both parties, won either Iowa or New Hampshire. The singular exception occurred in 1992 when a favorite son rendered Iowa's Democratic caucuses moot and Bill Clinton's comeback, second-place finish to a near favorite son in New Hampshire left the contest unresolved.

Quasi una profezia auto avverante che si basa sull'attenzione dei media e sull'hype.

But where the event truly gains its importance is in terms of momentum. Leading up to the Democratic primary of 1972, Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine was widely considered to be the front-runner. Muskie received the highest percentage of the vote in Iowa that year, but his challenger, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, made a very strong second-place showing. McGovern's second-place finish gave him a boost of media attention, which he rode all the way to his party's nomination.

Chi ben comincia è a metà dell'opera.

One reason the Hawkeye State retains its influence in the nominating fight is the nature of its caucus system, which forces candidates to do far more than persuade voters to punch a hole or fill in an oval. Instead, the process requires a commitment of several hours for a voter. And it encourages campaigns to have a level of organizational sophistication that often helps separate candidates who can go the distance from those who cannot.

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