"Most of the folks that I talked with from different precincts said the same thing - organized chaos."
As a caucus convener to last night's caucus, I am thinking I deserve some kind of a medal - like a Purple Heart! Wow! What a night! And it was not just our precinct - it was like this across the board in Minnesota. And if you can believe the news reports, across the country also. Most of the folks that I talked with from different precincts said the same thing - organized chaos. And that would be heavy on the word "chaos".
How bad was it? Two years ago, our precinct had 8 people show up. When I went through convener training, we were told since this was a presidential year, we would expect turnout to be as high as twice as many. No problem. I made 30 ballots just in case it was slightly over double. We had 102 people show up. Here is the neat part. 75% were first time caucus goers.
It was like this all over the state. In 2008, our state set a caucus record with 65,000 voters showing up. This year we almost doubled that record. So why would so many come out this year, many for the first time?
My opinion? Three words. Barack. Hussein. Obama. If nothing else, we have the high turnout last night to thank him for. Dissatisfaction with our Administration turns out to be a powerful motivator. But as good as the turnout was, this can't continue in the future. The caucus system might be living on borrowed time. One law maker has already said he is going to introduce legislation to change our system to a primary. Less confusion, more organization.
The news this morning showed different polling places across the metro. Long lines, long waits. Classrooms running out of desks and chairs (ours did). Standing room only in the classrooms and people having to stand in the hallway as there was literally no more room anywhere inside the classroom. The room next to ours had 140 people. And folks were stacked up like cord wood. Really no way to run a railroad. If we do have another caucus in this state, the powers that be are going to have to really think this one through.
Today, the classrooms are once again filled with unruly kids. Many of the folks who voted last night are back to work. The retired folks who helped convene precinct caucus rooms are soaking their feet in Epsom salts. The votes are counted, and candidates are either celebrating or licking their wounds. Not much time for either however, as the next primaries/caucus events are right around the corner. As for this old Bird, he is about ready to crawl back into his nest for an early morning nap.