I caucused with the Democrats tonight. Here’s how it went:
Both parties (from a couple of different precincts) held their caucuses in a nearby elementary school. The Democrats were queued around three sides of the school’s square interior hallway. There were a handful of Republicans sitting quietly in their caucus room.
That was my introduction to the disorganized clusterfuck that is the Democratic Party. Far more people showed up than had any business in that little gymnasium. They finally broke us up into three groups to get us signed in. For some reason my name (and a number of others’) was not on the voter roll so I had to register again on the spot (I re-registered in November to update my address and change my party affiliation just for this). The election worker at the sign-up table commented to someone, “The whole world is watching us”. Dear God I hope not.
I was one of the last into the gym. In the Democratic caucus, the participants stand along a wall with other people who favor the same candidate. There was hardly room to move. A lady pointed me toward the Richardson corner, but asked if I wanted to caucus for Hillary Clinton. “No, I don’t want to live through that again,” I said and so I squeezed my way to the other side of the gym.
About 650 people showed to caucus, which meant–because this precinct was electing more than three delegates–that each candidate needed 91 votes (or 15% of the precinct voters) to be viable, or take delegates. We had 63 on the first count. Each candidate had a precinct captain who counted and reported the votes to the chairperson. Dodd’s and Biden’s had somewhat less, Kucinich had a handful and one guy stood for Gravel. As expected, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards had enough votes to take delegates. Obama had by far the most. Our precinct captain thought they could get some of the Dodd and Biden people to join us, and maybe some of the surplus folks from the viable camps but nobody wanted to budge. Once the second count determined us not viable (we had a net loss of three), we were finished and free to leave or join with another candidate. Most of them scurried lemming-like to one of the big-money candidates. I left because I don’t want to throw my vote toward any of those three jokers.
So that was my Iowa caucus experience. For the all disorganization I didn’t see any irregularities, but I was not impressed by it. Though the overall turnout is expected to be better this year than usual, a very small percentage of registered voters participate in the caucuses. Iowa is not deserving of its table-setting status in the presidential race. I attribute Obama’s success in Iowa City to liberal white guilt (and in general to rich liberal white guilt money), otherwise I think the guy is a lightweight. But I’ll keep an open mind about him if he gets the nomination. I prefer him to Edwards and I just can’t take another Clinton presidency.