I’m back from my precinct caucus tonight — Super Tuesday. There were about eight or ten precincts at this caucus location, one of which looked like it might have only half a dozen or so people showing up. If you’ve been looking for an insider’s perspective on how the caucus process worked, with enough detail to actually know how everything hashed out rather than having to guesstimate based on mainstream media accounts. It wasn’t until tonight until I realized just how awry those accounts can be.
My precinct had 36 people qualified to participate in the proceedings, and one or two observers. For some reason, one of the 36 people didn’t vote on anything, apparently.
Before the straw poll, an opportunity was given for people to speak about the candidates. A deacon spoke in support of John McCain, a retired woman spoke in favor of Mitt Romney, an elderly lady threw in a very brief two cents in favor of Mitt Romney, and at prompting from my SigO I stood up to speak for Ron Paul. Of course, I think I gave the best speech — and the SigO seems to agree.
In the straw poll (aka “Presidential Preference Poll”):
- 21 votes — Romney was a clear winner for our precinct. I wasn’t terribly surprised at this, considering the number of people I saw wearing Mitt Romney stickers. There were a couple of (obviously below-voting-age) teenagers handing out these stickers at the entrance.
- 8 votes — Ron Paul came in second.
- 6 votes — McCain came in third.
- 0 votes — Everybody else had no supporters tonight. That included Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani. Apparently, everyone heard that Giuliani and Thompson dropped out, and nobody heard of Hunter.
Of course, that means essentially nothing in terms of who gets the party nomination. Party nomination is decided by delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, MN this September. Our precinct chose four delegates plus alternates to the county assembly, and one each delegates to the State assembly and Congressional district assembly. In order to be a State or Congressional district delegate, you have to also be a county delegate.
For the county assembly delegate vote, people nominated themselves and were given an opportunity to speak briefly about why they’d be a good choice to be a delegate. Each of the 36 qualified caucus attendees could give four votes, one for each person he or she supported as a delegate. I, for one, didn’t use all my votes — but I did use three of them.
My brief speech was probably the longest of them given at this point, but in retrospect I think I did an excellent job of “resume BSing” — casting myself in the best possible Republican flavored light, of course, while speaking honestly about my convictions and background. The vote for county delegates:
- 32 votes — Me. Apparently, I speechify very well.
- 30 votes — A Ron Paul supporter (I’ll call him G) came in second.
- 28 votes — This was the Mitt Romney supporter retiree.
- 26 votes — The McCain-supporting deacon took the fourth delegate position.
My SigO, also a Ron Paul supporter, is the alternate — in case someone else can’t show up.
There weren’t really any more speeches after that point. We moved on to the State and Congressional district assemblies, in that order, next. The only people eligible for these positions were county delegates and alternates.
For State assembly, I won with 19 votes — second place had 13. I thought I might be a shoe-in for this one, considering the vote for county. I think the impressive vote total I got for county may have discouraged the deacon and retiree from getting into this one after I announced my intent to be the state delegate. The other two people who threw their hats in the ring (G and my SigO) ended up on the “delegate wait list” — our precinct had two wait list slots.
The way the wait list works is, simply, that if some precincts lack delegates, fill-in delegates are chosen from the wait list.
For Congressional district assembly, the deacon won with 28 votes, and my SigO got waitlisted here as well with all the rest of the votes. The wait-list works the same as for the State assembly delegates.
Remember, the Congressional district assembly delegates are the alternates to the State assembly, and vice versa.
The last vote was for whether to support people who volunteered to be election judges. Two people volunteered, and both were confirmed by an informal voice vote (ayes vs. nays). Not that it matters, really, but one was a Ron Paul supporter, and one was a Mitt Romney supporter. They both struck me as relatively honest types. Neither self-nominated for any delegate positions or spoke in favor of any candidates.
In other words, I’ve had all my suspicions confirmed: it looks like Ron Paul comes in second or third in every single straw poll (although I hear he’s running a very close second in Montana so far on the straw polls), and probably gets the biggest percentage of delegates of all candidates in most precincts. The weighting toward Ron Paul will probably only increase at state levels in caucus states, as the number of delegates chosen for the county weigh in on additional delegates to send to the state, as will happen here in Colorado.
Based on what I’ve seen in personal descriptions of caucus proceedings in other states, and in my own personal experience, it looks like Ron Paul may well be winning. I’ve heard it said that what Ron Paul supporters really want is a brokered convention, which is what happens when there aren’t enough delegates voting for a single candidate to make him or her the clear winner at the national convention, but I’m beginning to think maybe that’s not what we want after all. Maybe Ron Paul will just win this thing outright — and the mainstream media will continue in its misinformed ignorance, basing its projections of “winners” and “losers” on straw polls where a bunch of people are asked what they prefer, but don’t care enough to actually do anything about it.
The winner is the guy who shows up.