Political Jargon Buster: Caucus

Photo: (YouTube/ABCNews)

45 million 18-29 year olds will be eligible to vote in the 2012 elections, representing the largest potential voting bloc in the country. Learn more about the issues, register to vote and get involved with MTV’s Power of 12. Today, we’ve got another “Jargon Buster” for you.

Caucus: noun, a private meeting for members of a particular political party or group, usually held to select a candidate or convention delegates. According to ABC News, it comes from a Native American word meaning ‘a gathering of tribal leaders.’

… so, for example, when a room full of Republican party members gets together to pick the delegates who will represent them at their National Convention in August, that is a caucus. This is the starting point to picking the future Obama-opponent. Attendees at a caucus will gather in churches, schools and peoples’ houses, and make their Presidential candidate preference known – typically via a secret ballot. Based on the results of the caucus, candidates begin to earn convention delegates, some of whom pledge their vote ahead of time.

Remember when our Power of 12 correspondent Jacob Soboroff broke down the nitty-gritty on why the Iowa caucus gets so much hype? (If not, give it a read. Enlightening and frustrating in one fell swoop.) These early caucuses set the scene for other states to pick their favorite candidates (peer pressure on a grand scale, perhaps?) and gain Primary momentum.

FYI: A caucus can be held for party members, party leaders or, sometimes, more specific factions of the group — ie: the Black Congressional Congress or Hispanic Congressional Congress.

Fun Fact: A mock caucus is a maucus.

Watch the video below for more fun facts about the caucus.