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Supporters of republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul leave after a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 2, 2012. - 

On this day that voters in the Hawkeye State are caucusing with their neighbors, we decided to do a little investigating. Under suspicion that the caucuses are just one fun part that Iowans keep all to themselves, we wanted to learn what goes on behind those particular closed doors.

So in today's Mid-day Extra, we ask: what are the Iowa caucuses really like?

For more, we went to Chris Larimer, a political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa, who was born and bred in the state.

He said that this is an unusual year for the caucuses, because the Democrats are meeting even though they have an incumbent candidate.

To learn more about the Republican candidates under consideration in Iowa -- and their economic policies -- check out our GOP Contender coverage.

Follow Stacey Vanek Smith at @svaneksmith