The caucuses are tonight in Minnesota.
The 2012 election is nine months away, but local party officials will start making decisions on which candidates they will back this year this evening. In the hotly-contested race for Republican Presidential nominee, current polling shows Rick Santorum with a small advantage with 33 percent, to 24 percent for Romney, 22 percent for Newt Gingrich, and 20 percent for Ron Paul.
Minnesota’s presidential poll is non-binding. For Republicans, that means that the candidate winning the caucus has no guarantee that delegates will support the victor at the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer.
In Minnesota, the DFL, Independence and Republican parties are considered major parties. For the definitions of major and minor political parties in Minnesota, click here.
WHAT'S A CAUCUS?
A caucus helps a political party gain consensus as to how voters have aligned their political and candidate preferences.
But at a caucus, there’s more going on than just candidate selection. Participants sometimes select county committee chairs that go to a state—and sometimes national—convention.
What distinguishes a caucus from a primary is that at a primary, voters don’t have to be present at one particular location at a specific time. For a primary, voters just go to their polling place and cast a vote, the same as they would do at a general election.
For a caucus, you have to be physically present at your designated caucus site, register, show your party affiliation and then participate in the process. Attendees participate directly.
To take part in a caucus, you must be eligible to vote in the 2012 general election and live in the precinct.
Each party has its own rules and guidelines it follows.
In Shakopee, the Democratic, Independent and Republicans parties will gather at different locations at 7 p.m.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party will meet at the at 1137 Marschall Road.
The Republican Party will meet at , 100 17th Ave. W.
The Independence Party will meet at , 7700 Old Carriage Ct.
Additional caucus information—including a caucus finder—can be found on the Minnesota Secretary of State website by clicking here.