With last Tuesday's Iowa caucuses in the rearview mirror, and the New Hampshire primary taking place today -- it's the perfect time to take a look at the difference between a caucus and a primary, and what role they play in electing a new president. I was curious so I did a little digging.

Iowa's caucuses were the first in the national election process. Today's New Hampshire event is the first primary of the year -- and the N.H. is one of 37 states to hold a primary instead of caucus. So what's the difference?

On a basic level, primaries are simpler than caucuses because they just involve voting for your favorite candidate as you would in the general election. They're also completely private. Your vote is secret -- again, just as it is in the general election.

On the other hand, a caucus is totally non-secret. In fact, during caucusing neighbors gather in schools and churches and openly discuss which candidates they favor and why -- encouraging others to climb on their bandwagon.

The bottom line, be it a primary or a caucus, the purpose is to determine how many of each state's delegates go to the presidential candidates, with the purpose of determining each party's eventual nominee for November's general election.

That's it in a nutshell. Minnesota's primary is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1st.