Lisa and I went to our precinct caucus tonight, our first in University Heghts. The town of University Heights is a single precinct. There are nearly 1000 people in town. There were 287 Democrats at our caucus this evening. Not too bad a turn out.
The large crowd was expected, we met outside city limits at West High in Iowa City, in the cafeteria. There were eight other precincts meeting at the school. We met in the cafeteria. Other precincts were in the band room, the library, and class rooms.
When we came in nearly every candidate had a portion of the room marked out and there were treats at each table, something I’d never seen at our old precinct.
We are a highly educated precinct, many doctors and PhD’s live in town. Given that you wouldn’t think it would be nearly so hard to count us all. Everyone was given a numbered card when registering. Our precinct chair then wanted to count everyone to double check that the number was correct. At this point my neighbor Mike looked at me and said, “You realize these are the same people that are going to be in charge if the Bird Flu ever breaks out. We’re all doomed.” The group shouted that down and proposed just accepting the number count from the cards, so our count was 287, and apparently 45 minutes that were used in 2004 were saved.
At 7:00 each presidential candidate was allowed to have someone speak for them for up to two minutes each. After that it was announced that each group would have to have at least 44 members to be viable. We then broke into preference groups.
I decided to back the same person I did in 2004 and looked for a Kucinich group (he was the only candidate without a sign anywhere) I found the six other hardy souls backing Dennis. At the end of the first session here were the group totals:
Then it was announced that there were 4 total delegates to the county convention that would come from our precinct. Every viable candidate would get at least one delegate. The groups could discuss and move if they wished.
We decided to go to Obama as Kucinich had mentioned. The Richardson, Dodd and Biden groups tried to figure out a way to merge and become viable, but it didn’t work so at the end of the second round we had our final standings:
Obama 144 2 delegates
Edwards 53 1 delegate
Clinton 51 1 delegate
So the caucus groups selected delegates to the county convention, accepted resolutions and pretty much finished.
I am a great believer in this process of getting out and talking to your neighbors, listening to others and making decisions. I also really understand that we in Iowa don’t pick the winners, but we do pick the losers. I think the best quote ever regarding the caucus was from Bruce Babbit after finishing 5th in 1988, “I was in it right up to the beginning...”