Elephant in the Room: Closed Primaries and a Super Tuesday Caucus Changes the GOP Playbook 

Idaho's Super Tuesday caucuses will solidify the Republican Party's closed primary

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Each caucus will begin at 7 p.m., including those in the Pacific Time Zone--in other words, those caucuses above the 45th parallel will begin at 8 p.m. Mountain Time.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

1. The first rule is the most important. Voters must be registered as Republicans to participate. Those who have pre-registered will have an "express lane" to enter the caucus. Otherwise, participants will need to provide a driver's license or identification to register. Voters who are 17 years old may participate if they turn 18 before Tuesday, Nov. 6.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

2. Participants must be inside the caucus location by 7 p.m.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

3. Voting will take place in successive rounds. If a candidate receives a simple majority of at least 50 percent of the vote, plus one, the process is over and that candidate wins that caucus location.

But if no candidate has garnered 50 percent, the candidate with the lowest vote tally in each round is eliminated. Additionally, any candidate who receives less than 15 percent of the vote is eliminated.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

4. The caucus vote continues until one of the candidates receives at least 50 percent of the vote, or only two candidates remain and a final vote is taken.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

5. Votes from each of Idaho's 44 county caucuses are compiled. If any candidate tops 50 percent of the vote statewide, all of Idaho's 32 delegates will be bound to that candidate on the first ballot of the Republican National convention.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

6. If no candidate secures 50 percent of the total vote, delegates will be apportioned at the Idaho State GOP Convention in June.

Mr. Caucus

Trevor Thorpe may not be as well-known as Parker or Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko but that's about to change. The 26-year-old political director for the Idaho GOP has been tasked with making sure that the Gem State's first-of-its-kind caucus runs as smoothly as possible.

"This is why we hired Trevor to come in a few months early," said Parker. "He was going to come on board to oversee our legislative races this spring, but the caucuses are his main assignment right now."

Thorpe has been spending his days, and more than a few nights, coaching Idaho's 44 county GOP central committees on the do's and do not's of caucusing.

"No. 1, we're really encouraging all of our county people to get out and pre-register people," said Thorpe. "Precinct chairs across Idaho are walking their precincts in the days running up to the caucus."

On the day of the caucus, GOP committee officials will visit their respective county clerk's offices and get a printout of every registered Republican in their county.

"Let's say you're a registered Democrat but you want to participate in the caucus. You have to change your party affiliation and that will hold true for the caucus as well as the May primary," said Thorpe.

One of the biggest differences between a caucus and a primary is that electioneering is allowed--and even encouraged.

"Each of the candidates will have someone speak on their behalf," said Thorpe. "We even have videos from the candidates that can be played at the caucuses. After the speeches, we'll go through the rules and the voting will begin."

Additionally, caucuses will serve as a primetime money machine for the party.

"A lot of the counties are getting sponsors for the event," said Parker. "They can even charge candidates to set up tables inside the caucuses. More importantly, when the evening is over, the party can follow up with all of the attendees by possibly sending fund-raising letters. Our primary purpose is to have a big say on who the nominee will be, but the real kicker here is that this is a huge opportunity to build our party."

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