Election Caucuses: Who's In and Who's Out?

Washington State Democratic Caucus 2008

Joe Mabel / CC BY-SA 3.0

Grade Level:
Middle School,
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, Language

What Differentiates Caucuses from Regular Primary Elections?

During the 2020 Presidential election, several states will use caucuses as their method for selecting nominees. An election caucus is a gathering where registered members of a party in a city, town or county get together to choose candidates for an election. A caucus is different than a regular primary where people cast their secret vote for their preferred candidate.

Presidential Nomination Method: Caucus or Primary?

Historically, caucuses were the main method used to determine each party’s presidential nominee. In recent years, the number of caucuses has been steadily declining. During the 2020 presidential election, the following states and U.S. territories have caucuses for primary elections: Iowa, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands.

About the Lesson Plan

In this lesson plan students in grades 8–12 learn to differentiate between caucuses and regular primary elections, engage in a mock classroom caucus election and write a speech that reflects their opinions about caucuses.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand how an election caucus works.
  • Students will engage in a classroom caucus and reflect on its process and results.
  • Students will explore their opinions about caucuses by writing and delivering a speech with their point of view.

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