Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Caucused Out

Caucus chaos! The end of the long line begins in the center of the photo and goes left over a hundred yards probably. Those standing around the tables are registered voters checking into their precincts to receive their wrist bands saying they are registered and can vote later in the evening.

When I got with in four blocks of our caucus site and saw dozens of people walking down the sidewalks towards it, I knew right then that we were experiencing record turnouts. I drove around a bit and finally was able to shoehorn my car into a very tight parallel parking situation a block and a half away from the site and made my way towards the front doors. A huge line extended out the front doors of unregistered voters looking to register or switch their registry so I knew there was a huge turnout. The crowds made the 2008 caucus, our previous record, look like a small gathering. Fortunately because I'm registered with my party, I was able to walk right past these long lines and check in just a few minutes later. Some of those registering waited for almost an hour to get through the line.

After checking in I made my way to the auditorium where we waited for the speech portion of the program. Each candidate can have a proxy give a speech as to why we should vote for their candidate in an effort to switch our votes. It is normally presented by locals who read their speeches off of typed up notes and not very informative or emotional. However, the proxy for Ted Cruz this year flipped over that stereotype on its head. They brought in some ringer from North Carolina that gave a speech out of some television movie of a black brimstone and hell fire preacher. I felt like I was at some sort of revival instead of a caucus. That really got the crowds buzzing. The Trump supporters were there and just like him, they were the most obnoxiously vocal but their proxy probably gave the worst speech of the night.

After the speeches, we divided up into our precincts and about fifteen minutes later, my vote was cast. Almost 90% of the crowds immediately thinned out and went home leaving us regular caucus goers to enjoy the evening and mingle while the results were being tallied. In my precinct, Trump won by six votes over Rubio with Cruz coming in a distant third. I wasn't surprised about Trump winning or Cruz coming in a distant third since my precinct isn't what I would call evangelical voters. I was impressed with how well Rubio did however which gave me hope that perhaps there is a chance that we can nominate someone who isn't Trump or Cruz. As you most likely know, overall, Cruz one our state but Trump and Rubio tied for second with 7 delegates apiece.

Once the fair weather voters were gone, the rest of us got down to business electing officers and delegates. You are reading the words of one of those delegates selected to represent my precinct at the county caucus in March and perhaps if elected the state caucus this summer. I'm excited since this is the first time I've ever gone beyond the local caucus to see what the other events are like. More on that later.

Having voted for Rubio, perhaps I'm biased but I feel much better about his chances of winning the overall Republican nomination after Monday night. The last two evangelical choices at the last two caucuses, Huckabee and Santorum, never did well nationally and I haven't seen any reason to believe Cruz will be different. My hope is that his supporters and those of the moderate candidates that didn't get any delegates last night will trickle over to Rubio as the primary season progresses. If Rubio gets the nomination, I think he has good odds of winning against either Sanders or Clinton. For those of the Democratic persuasion, as of writing this, Sanders and Clinton are still in a tie and not all votes are in but regardless, Clinton will end up with at least one more delegate and upwards of three depending on which way the last caucus yet to report went. I'm guessing she hoped she had done better and as someone who really doesn't like either one, I'm rooting for a long drawn out nomination process to divide up the party a bit come election time.

After getting 10 to 20 political robo calls a day for the last two months, my phone is blissfully silent. I have done my civic duty and now I get a chance to rest and not be subjected to politics other than the first ten minutes of the evening news and I plan to take full advantage of that until I have to go serve as a delegate in March.

About 1/3 of the caucus goers were able to squeeze into the auditorium before the fire marshal closed the doors. The rest of the caucus goers had to stand in the cafeteria area in the top photo and listen to the speeches there.


sage said...

Wow, it appears that Iowa caucuses were popular... I still remember Cruz frying bacon on a machine gun, a stunt that look less than presidential and I hope you are right about him fading. I also want to know where Hilary came up with all those double headed coins that gave her all six of the caucuses decided by a coin-toss.

Ed said...

Sage - We certainly smashed our previous record which was only 16% of registered voters in the state. I don't know how other states fair in the primaries but 16% sounds really pathetic and worse that it was a record until Monday night.

I had heard that a few precincts flipped coins but didn't know it was that many and that Hillary won them all. If I was her I would buy a powerball ticket ASAP.

Kelly said...

I suspected y'all might have an increased turnout, but wasn't sure if it would be to vote for or against Trump!

One positive of the evening was that Huckleberry, whoops... Huckabee finally threw in the towel.

Tewshooz said...

Winning six coin tosses in a row is amazing, isn't it?

Vince said...

I find it hard to watch it this time for I suspect Clinton is a shoo in. It's not so much that I dislike her like lots in the US. I don't have that level of skin in the game. What I truly don't like is her 'insiderness'. Yes in the 90s both could argue they were outsiders, on a crusade. But now, they are jaded old hands.
For what it's worth, but the European press are saying Trump will be in the running, be it as the nom from the GOP, or independently. They pick up on underemployed voters in Dem States who would normally vote Dem if they voted at all, will not shift to Trump. Then even if moderate Reps hold their nose and vote Clinton, the crossing the otherway will more than cancel them out.
But on the whole, Europeans are quite scared of Trump.

Ed said...

Kelly - I wasn't sure of who the turnout was for Trump or anyone but Trump although once it got started, I was worried it was those for Trump since they were really vocal to the point of being obnoxious and disrespectful of the process. However, as it turned out, it brought in a lot of others who were concerned that Trump would win. As I write this, Hucklebee, Santorum (both past Iowa Caucus winners) and Paul have dropped out on the Republican side. I had every intention of laying low and forgetting about politics for a few weeks but I'm already chomping at the bit to see how this all plays out next Tuesday in New Hampshire.

Tewshooz - I'm guessing next caucus season, there will be a more thorough inspection of the coins and the flipping process!

Vince - I'm not convinced she is a shoo in but if I were a betting man, I would put my chips on her name that she will eventually win. Had there been someone a bit more moderate than Sanders that was articulate, I wouldn't be betting on her for the reasons you mentioned. We Americans tend to shy away from the more seasoned politicians in favor of new stock, even if new stock is extremely subjective.

I do think Trump will have a long campaign and won't be out anytime soon but I'm not putting money on him yet that he will be the eventual nominee. If he acted a bit more refined and talked more intelligently, he would be a shoo in, but his crudeness I think won't sit well with the independents. I think they will side more with Rubio who is more of a moderate Republican. If Trump and Sanders are the eventually nominees, I'll will guarantee we will have a serious third party candidate running and then I have no idea what will happen.

The one thing that lets me sleep at nights over all this is that congress will be gridlocked so other than being the face of our nation across the world, whomever wins won't get much passed through Congress.

Bob said...

So interesting, Ed! You Iowans sure do things differently and the eyes of the nation were on you Monday night. Congrats on being a delegate! Look forward to reading more.