Marquette University will bring some of the Iowa caucus spectacle to Milwaukee on Monday, allowing locals to observe Iowans decide their favorite candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
The candidate selected at this out-of-state satellite caucus organized by Marquette College Democrats Chair Eric Rorholm will be reported by one additional “at large” satellite caucus county in Iowa.
The satellite caucus itself will function largely the same as every other Iowa caucus, especially in the sense that it could be quite confusing to onlookers.
“A caucus is different than a primary: rather than just filling in a ballot, it’s a multiple-hour commitment regimented by a script,” said Rorholm, a junior from Spokane, Wash., in an email interview. “There’s a portion about party business, a bit about local candidates in Iowa, but the bulk of the night is the caucus itself,” he said.
Rorholm said there will be pieces of paper with candidate names around the room, and caucus-goers stand by the candidate’s name they support when the voting begins.
Candidates need 15 percent of the vote to be viable, and if a candidate doesn’t meet that threshold, participants can move to a viable candidate, try to convince others to come to their candidate or join with others to make a new candidate viable.
“It’s a public, vocal, deliberative process: Caucus-goers can chat, debate, argue, and members of the public can come and influence them!” Rorholm said.
The Marquette caucus will include six participants, so any candidate a single caucus-goer picks will meet the 15 percent viability threshold.
“At this point, I believe Bernie Sanders has the best chance at winning,” said Rorholm. “He’s by and large the favorite on campus. … But a caucus is volatile; anything can happen.”
The satellite caucuses hosted around the world consist of 87 caucuses hosted in 13 states, Washington D.C. and three countries. The caucus at Marquette will be open to the public.
Iowa Democrats approved the satellite caucuses to allow Iowans who are unable to attend their own caucuses in Iowa the chance to participate. The satellites are also aimed at making the whole process more efficient by reducing lines and crowding at local precinct caucuses.
Rorholm said the Sanders campaign reached out to him with the opportunity.
In order to host the satellite caucus, Marquette needed a registered voter from Iowa to do the petitioning and someone who was willing to organize and captain the event.
Bill Neidhardt, Iowa state deputy director for the Sanders campaign, recommended Marquette, his alma mater, to host one of the satellites.
Said Rorholm: “I am excited the democratic process has grown in this way!”
See more on the satellite caucuses here.
–By Adam Kelnhofer for Battleground Wisconsin 2020.