Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan got trounced in the Iowa caucuses but won their party's nomination and the White House, so does it really matter who wins in Iowa tomorrow? Many Americans would say it does not. Only about 125,000 total from both parties will caucus in a political ritual that baffles nearly everyone, including Iowans. The process is so complicated that Iowa's secretary of state goes on tour setting up mock caucus nights so Iowans can practice.
While the cacuses have been a financial boon to the state, the political value of the Iowa caucuses has gone up and down over the years. In 1988, for example, the candidates who eventually won the nominations of both parties came in third in Iowa. In elections without a sitting President or Vice President, the Iowa winner has gone on to the nomination only about half the time
The Iowa caucus operates very differently from the more common primary election system used by most other states including Oklahoma. The caucus is generally defined as a "gathering of neighbors." Rather than going to the polls and casting ballots, Iowans gather at a set location in each of Iowa's 1784 precincts. Typically, these meetings occur in schools, churches, public libraries and homes. The caucuses are held every two years, but the ones that receive national attention are the presidential preference caucuses held every four years.