Two uniquely American phenomena are set to take place with 24 hours of one another today,
One, Groundhog Day, is supposed to help predict the weather; the other is as predictable as the weather when it comes to determining who the next President of the United States will be — the Iowa Caucus.
Many school-aged children and adults know how the process works with Punxsutawney Phil, the world-famous groundhog from Pennsylvania: if Phil sees his shadow at sunrise winter will last another six weeks.
If, not, spring will arrive early, or so they say.
Let’s be honest, according to the calendar, winter lasts 12 weeks and as area residents know, the past few days have seen temperatures in the 50-degree range, which is 20 degrees above average for winter.
With the forecast for Pettis County calling for temperatures in the 30s and 40s for the remainder of the week and a chance of precipitation — possibly up to an inch of rain is in the forecast for today — the old adage is true, if you don’t like the weather in Missouri, wait an hour and it will change.
The same can be said for the political forecast in many respects. Today’s front runners, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, possibly have just as good a chance of winning the White House as it being 95 degrees in Sedalia today.
It could happen, but it probably won’t.
In fact, in the history of the Iowa Caucus only three candidates have won Iowa and gone on to win the presidency: Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The Iowa Caucus is, according to NBC News, the first formal step in the presidential nominating process.
“In Iowa, groups of voters will meet in 1,681 precincts throughout the state, beginning at 7 p.m. local time Monday,” NBC reported. “Attendees must caucus with their political party, but individuals can register to vote that same day, or even upon entering the caucus that evening.
Democrats and Republicans caucus in very different ways though.
Democrats do not vote by paper ballot. Instead they must physically stand in a group with the other supporters of a particular candidate.
If an individual is in place for one candidate and can be persuaded by another candidate’s supporters to join their side, the person can move until the appointed count of the caucus is made.
“Democrats require candidates to garner at least 15 percent of support per precinct,” NBC News went on to report. “Supporters of candidates who fail to meet that threshold may campaign to gain additional voters, or they may choose to walk over and join those supporting the remaining candidates.
“The percentage of support is crucial because it determines how many delegates are award to each viable candidate.”
Those delegates eventually are what secure the nomination for the candidate at the conventions hosted in the summer.
The Republican process in the caucus is simpler. Republicans vote by secret ballot.
A voter writes the name of their candidate on a piece of paper; those papers are collected and counted and the person with the highest vote total is declared the winner.
Voters in Missouri will have the opportunity to cast their primary ballots during the presidential preference election March 15 on Super Tuesday.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484