Across the state of Iowa, thousands of people went to caucus on February 1, 2016. For the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were virtually tied, with Clinton receiving 49.8% of the vote and Sanders with 49.6%. The Republicans were more clearly separated. Ted Cruz received 27.6% of votes, Donald Trump had 24.3%, and Marco Rubio had 23.1%.
The race was not as close for the Democratic Party at the University of Northern Iowa. In total, 306 people came to caucus. For Ward 3, Precinct 1 in the Maucker Union, Bernie Sanders won by a landslide with 253 votes. Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley were not viable candidates after receiving only 36 votes and 3 votes, respectively.
The caucus did not officially begin until 7:49, due to the large number of people trying to get into the Union. They had to change the rules to enable all those who were already in the Union at 7 p.m. to participate.
To start things off, Katie Anderson, the UNI student body president, read a letter from Dr. Andy McGuire.
Shortly after this, at 8:00 p.m., people could cast their votes. It was very clear that Bernie Sanders had the most support.
After the initial vote, people gradually moved back to their seats and were counted at 8:07 p.m. This process took quite a while. It was during this time that those who were originally caucusing for either O’Malley or Clinton had to realign. Nicole Baxter, a freshman at UNI explained that, “Hillary people are pissed. Like really pissed.”
Following the counting, five delegates were elected to represent Sanders at the county convention on March 12.
Among those five was Gabriella Ruggiero, who stated, “I support Bernie because his big issue is my big issue. Social programs that Bernie supports will help students who don’t have money or time…because they are working. [That is] something that is very important to me.”
Another delegate, Heather Applegate, said, “I want to make sure that the people coming back from the war get taken care of. I want to make sure we don’t forget the people who have already been forgotten.”
The decision of delegates and alternates was ratified at 9:00 p.m., and the meeting was adjourned at 9:01 p.m.
In the end, Bernie Sanders took over the Union, to the delight of many in attendance. And overall, it was a lively and emotional environment. There were mixed reviews of how the night unfolded, but the majority felt that it was a positive and memorable experience.
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