Here’s how the upcoming Iowa caucuses will work

    Happening this Monday: President Biden speaks at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina… Congress reaches deal on how much to spend in 2024 as potential government shutdown still looms… Rep. Elise Stefanik, on “Meet the Press,” doesn’t commit to certifying 2024 election results… And we are exactly one week away from the Iowa caucuses, as Donald Trump slow-rolls to contest.

    But FIRST… Want to know how next week’s Iowa Republican caucuses work?

    Here’s everything you need to know: 

    When do the caucuses take place? 

    On Monday, Jan. 15, starting at 8:00 pm ET (7:00 pm local).

    Who gets to participate? 

    Eligible voters must be at least 18 years old by Election Day 2024 (the general election). To participate in this GOP contest, a caucusgoer must be registered with the Republican Party; same-day voter registration is available. 

    How many delegates are at stake? 

    There are 40 Republican delegates up for grabs from the contest (out of a total of 2,429 that will be awarded), including 25 at-large delegates, 12 congressional district delegates and 3 RNC members. The delegates are allocated proportionately based on the statewide vote. 

    OK, but how does this ACTUALLY work? 

    It’s important to remember that Democrats and Republicans conduct their caucuses in two very different ways. Republicans select their candidate via a simple secret-ballot vote — unlike the Democratic shuffling from one corner of the caucus site to the other, and unlike the Democratic viability thresholds and realignment. Candidates simply receive the delegates equal to their share of the statewide vote. (For example, in 2016, Ted Cruz’s 28% translated to eight delegates, Trump’s 24% to seven delegates and Marco Rubio’s 23% to seven delegates, with the other candidates splitting the remaining delegates.)

    How are the results reported? 

    The Iowa GOP has a process where precincts will upload their unofficial results to a web-based app. Those results then go through a verification process and will be posted online via a link on the state party website, which will be posted the day of the caucuses.

    And what happened to the Democratic contest? 

    Iowa Dems changed their caucus process this year to comply with the DNC’s new primary calendar, which has South Carolina holding the first nominating contest. Iowa Democrats will pick their preferred presidential candidate by mail, and the results will be released on March 5. The last day to request a “presidential preference card” is Feb. 19. Democrats will gather at precinct caucuses on Jan. 15 to conduct other party business, including discussing platform resolutions and electing unbound and alternate delegates.

    Headline of the day

    The number of the day is … 3

    That’s how many days the Pentagon waited before telling the White House that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in the intensive care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, NBC’s Courtney Kube, Carol E. Lee, Dennis Romero and Peter Alexander report. 

    Austin was admitted to the ICU one week ago, on Jan. 1, and remained there as of Sunday evening. He was initially admitted after complications and pain following an elective medical procedure he had before Christmas. 

    The deputy Defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks, was not aware that Austin had been admitted until Thursday Jan. 4, two days after he first checked into the ICU. The Pentagon says that Austin “transferred responsibility” to Hicks on Jan. 2, days before she learned that he was in the hospital.

    The Defense Department informed the public about Austin’s ongoing hospitalization on Friday evening, five days after he was first admitted to the ICU.

    Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley laid out her closing argument in Iowa as the candidate best positioned to beat Trump and take on Joe Biden in a wide-ranging interview Friday with NBC News and the Des Moines Register, per NBC’s Sarah Dean, Dasha Burns and Abigail Brooks. 

    While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went on the attack against Haley in his interview on Thursday, she did not often name him and even said she might consider DeSantis as her running mate.

    “I am going to defeat Donald Trump on my own. That’s the goal that we have. If [DeSantis] wants to join forces with me, I welcome that,” Haley said. “But right now, we’ve got a race that we feel good about. We’ve got a surge. We’ve got momentum.”

    DeSantis shot down the notion that he could join forces with Haley, telling Fox News on Saturday, “I am not going to accept that under any circumstance,” per NBC’s Nnamdi Egwuonwu. 

    Haley, though, did not directly answer whether she would serve as Trump’s vice president, but added that she is not running for the position. 

    Haley also responded to criticisms from her opponents that she is too moderate, saying, “The only way we’re going to save our country is if we go after everybody; if we focus on lifting up everybody, not just a select few. And that’s what I’m going to do. And so, yes, is that conservatives? Yes. Is that moderates? Yes. Is that independents? Yes. I want them all.”

    For more on Haley’s interview, including her approach to her home state of South Carolina, her thoughts on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign, her response to recent immigration attacks and criticisms over her comments on race, and her thoughts on the Jan. 6 anniversary, check out the full interview on 

    In other campaign news … 

    Trump’s Iowa strategy: Trump is leaning on surrogates in the final days before the Iowa caucuses rather than traveling to the state frequently himself, NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard, Jake Traylor and Dan Gallo report from the Hawkeye State. Trump’s lead in Iowa is due in part to his hold on Iowa’s evangelical voters, and the New York Times explores how politics have become more intertwined with the evangelical identity.

    Diverging on Jan. 6: Trump barely mentioned the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol during his Iowa rally on the attack’s three-year anniversary Saturday, NBC’s Jonathan Allen and Matt Dixon report. Biden, meanwhile, marked the anniversary with a Friday speech in Pennsylvania that cast Trump as a threat to democracy, per NBC’s Mike Memoli and Megan Lebowitz.

    2024 doubts: Republican presidential candidates, particularly DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, are already casting doubt on whether Biden can legitimately win the 2024 election as GOP voters remain skeptical of election integrity, NBC’s Amanda Terkel, Nnamdi Egwuonwu and Alex Tabet report. New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik would also not commit to certifying the 2024 election results during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

    Full Court press: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up the case of Trump’s position on Colorado’s primary ballot, setting a Feb. 8 date for arguments (the same day as the Nevada GOP caucuses), per NBC’s Lawrence Hurley. Meanwhile, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who is running for governor, threatened to remove Biden from the ballot if Trump is barred from other state’s ballots, per NBC’s Jane C. Timm and Amanda Terkel.

    Biden courts Black voters: Biden’s trip to South Carolina on Monday comes as he has lost some support among Black voters, and the president plans to take aim at Trump and so-called MAGA Republicans during his appearance at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, per NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez.

    Headed to Capitol Hill: Speaker Mike Johnson formally invited President Joe Biden to deliver a State of the Union address on March 7, a speech that the president’s advisors see as a “high stakes opportunity” to fend off Democratic anxiety about Biden going into an election year, NBC’s Mike Memoli and Kristen Welker report.

    What can big money buy?: Politico explores whether mega-donors can still influence a campaign as they line up behind Haley, who still trails Trump in the quest for the GOP nomination. 

    Rally remarks: After a shooter at an Iowa high school last week killed one student and injured seven other people, Trump urged supporters at a rally in Iowa on Friday to “get over it,” adding, “we have to move forward,” NBC’s Jillian Frankel and Zoë Richards report.

    Skipped: Nearly every Republican presidential candidate rejected an invitation to join the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum, which organizers claim is the Hawkeye State’s premier minority-focused presidential forum, NBC’s Nnamdi Egwuonwu reports.

    Abortion on the ballot: Florida abortion rights groups moved one step closer to putting a measure to enshrine abortion rights on the ballot in November after they collected 910,000 validated signatures of registered voters who favor putting a state constitutional amendment on abortion to a vote, NBC’s Adam Edelman reports.

    Shaking it up: After months of infighting, Michigan Republicans on Saturday voted to oust their embattled leader, Kristina Karamo.

    ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

    2023 — the third year of a “sprawling investigation” into the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol — featured major achievements for the FBI and the Justice Department as hundreds of cases against rioters made their way through the legal system, but 2024 will be even more important, NBC’s Ryan J. Reilly reports. 

    House Republicans last week moved closer to holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for failing to appear for a closed-door deposition following a subpoena.