As a Canadian, I have always found two aspects of American politics confusing - the electoral college (for POTUS) and the various state caucuses and primaries held on the way to a presidential election. I am hoping you can help me understand caucuses and primaries.
More than once, I have tried to understand what the differences are between caucuses and primaries. In fact, before making this OP I tried yet again at both this site and this site, and am still not sure I appreciate the difference (sure, I get that there are differences in the process but, is that it? Are there any more substantive differences?) ETA: And, whether it’s a caucus or primary, what is the advantage over not having them?
Is it simply that a caucus is a small group of individuals (at a local level) who agree on a choice for candidate, with the plural ‘caucuses’ referring to a collection of such small groups? If so, does each caucus get one vote, or is the vote of a particular caucus weighted more or less depending on the number of individuals that comprise it? Or, is it entirely different with each individual in any caucus having one vote (which, I think, can’t be the case because that would just make it a primary).
As I typed the above, it became more and more obvious to me that I really don’t have a clue. So, I ask - can you set me straight, please.
(Anything you can add about why there even are things like caucuses and primaries would also be appreciated. What would a caucus/primary supporter say we missing out on in Canada by not having them?)