Political Lowe-down: What is a caucus?

IOWA -- Caucus is a word we've heard a lot lately, and in Iowa, it's the political contest that kicks off the presidential race. The things we know about the Iowa caucus are that you have to be 18 by the time of the election, and an Iowa resident in order to vote. After that, it gets a bit murky, so FOX6's Mike Lowe enlisted a prominent political commentator Tucker Carlson to help explain the caucus process.

"This is my 20th year covering politics. I started in 1992. I've covered every Iowa caucus since then, and I have no idea how it works, and I'm the only person who will admit it.  I also believe that very few caucus-goers know how it works," Carlson said.

The Iowa caucus is confusing to many because the idea seems so foreign. "It's an anachronism. It's a little bit of the 19th century, right here in the 21st.  It's beautiful.  It really is like the Amish.  Why don't they drive cars? I don't know, but it's kind of charming," Carlson said.

In Wisconsin, a primary election is like any other election day: the polls open, and people cast ballots for hours. In Iowa, voters caucus. That is a fancy word for a political meeting. "You are divided up into voting precincts, and you meet for a couple of hours," caucus-goer Kathy Dzado said.

That meeting includes speeches from campaign representatives, followed by a vote. Attendees write the name of their candidate on a blank piece of paper, and drop it in a box. The ballots are counted and the results are called in to the party. "People of a similar political party sit around in the basement of a gym or a church and argue with each other until they decide to support a candidate. It's a mystery, and like childbirth, it's one of those mysteries I don't want to know any more about than I already do," Carlson said.

No one knows what the results will be until after the quirky caucus meetings take place in more than 1,700 spots throughout the state of Iowa.