A New Hampshire voter checks in at a polling station in Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, as both Republicans and Democrats register votes in their respective presidential primaries. (Bao Dandan/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
Over the past two weeks, the process of voting for the next president has begun.
First, Iowans caucused on Monday, February 1. A week later, on February 9, New Hampshire voters cast their ballots in their state’s primary.
The two states, although accomplishing the same task, (determining the delegates that will represent each state at the political party convention later in the election season) have very different methods.
Every year, Iowans are the first to vote. Why does Iowa go first? No one really knows. What’s interesting, though, is that despite Iowa not being a true representation of the U.S.’s demographics, Iowa still holds an influential spot. (For example, Iowa is 92.1 percent white, while the U.S. is 77.4 percent white, according to data from 2014.)
In Iowa, caucuses, or “precinct-level meeting of politically like-minded individuals” for the Republican and Democratic parties work differently, with the Republican process being fairly simple, and the Democratic method more complex.
The Republicans collect in a meeting space and hear speeches from community members (or the candidate themselves), and then voters write down who they think is the best candidate, and votes are tallied.
Democrats also collect in one meeting space, but then they literally break into groups according to their preference. If a candidate doesn’t gain the support of at least 15% of the attendants, they are eliminated as an option for caucusers. Their supporters then have to choose a candidate who did qualify with over 15% of voters’ support. People supporting other candidates try to win the support of those who supported a less than 15% candidate until everyone has chosen a candidate to support.
In Iowa, the Republican winner of the February 1 caucus was Ted Cruz, who won 27.6 percent of the Republican vote. Trump came in second with 24.3%, and Marco Rubio was in third with 23.1% of the vote. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum all announced they would be dropping out of the race after receiving 4.5, 1, and 1.8 percent of the vote, respectively.
The Democratic winner was incredibly close–virtually a tie. Clinton won with 49.9 percent of the vote, and Sanders took second with 49.6 percent. Martin O’Malley dropped out of the race after getting only .6 percent of the vote.
Far fewer people turn out for caucuses than primaries–in Iowa this year, 357,983 citizens participated in caucuses for a turnout rate of 15.7% among those eligible to vote, but in New Hampshire, which uses a paper ballot method for both parties, an astonishing 535,070 voters turned up to vote.
Many Democrats believe that the demographic makeup of New Hampshire, like that of Iowa,is not representative of the country, and therefore New Hampshire shouldn’t go first in the primaries. The 2010 Census data showed that the percentage of minority residents in New Hampshire was nearly five times smaller than the national average (New Hampshire is 92% non-Hispanic white, versus 64% nationally). However, politically New Hampshire is more diverse–namely, it’s not as liberal as other New England states.
The results from the New Hampshire primaries put Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump on top. Bernie Sanders won with 60.4% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 38%. Donald Trump swept the Republican vote, earning 35.3% of the vote to runner-up John Kasich’s 15.8%.
By February 10, two Republican candidates had dropped out of the race after disappointing results in New Hampshire: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who came in with just 7.4% of the vote, and former CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina, who earned 4.1%.
Next up is Nevada’s Democratic caucus and the South Carolina Republican primary on February 20. Then, just a week and a half later, Texas will take part in “Super Tuesday”–the day that most states hold primaries: March 1.
To stay up to date and see a complete schedule of primaries, check out The New York Times’s calendar.