Friday, January 4, 2008

"We will we will Barack you"

That slogan was written on a shirt of one of the precinct captains at my Coralville precinct. She was, as you might expect, young. Iowa was Baracked - no doubt about that.

We had 764 people show up in our Coralville precinct. Someone said four years ago it was around 400 people. I asked a number of people standing next to me if they had caucused before and all said No. It was a family event for us as all three girls joined Sharon and me. Sharon was told there would be childcare (and a movie!) for the kids, but that didn't materialize. When I called the Barack campaign, they told me it would only take 45 minutes to an hour, which I didn't believe and of course, that wasn't even close to being true. The girls spent the night on the floor trying not get stepped on. Rachel made a couple of forays to the Clinton table to snag some water. And she got cookies from Edwards supporters, I think.

The first tally was something like 180 for Clinton, 120 Edwards and 320 for Obama. (Numbers are not exactly right.) The cheers that erupted from the Obama group gave me chills in that stuffy 100-degree-packed-to-the-rafters-elementary-school gym. After the second count, Clinton was over 200, I think, Edwards was about the same and Obama was around 350. Obama got five delegates, Clinton got three and Edwards got two.

I was surprised at how... informal it seemed. They handed little red tickets like you'd get at a carnival. The precinct captain for each candidate gathered the red tickets from their supporters. Sometimes they just held out their cupped hands, some people used the plastic top from a salad bar container, and I think I saw someone using a hat to collect tickets, too. And then, as one guy pointed out, they were counted and the totals reported by the precinct captain for each candidate. I guess I would have thought there'd be neutral counters and a couple of people overseeing things to make sure it was all on the up and up. Not that I really doubt the results at all. I have complete trust in the people who were there - they're my neighbors after all. But I suprised at the informality of it all.

I watched Obama's speech on CNN last night and I was inspired. I wonder if this is how people felt about Kennedy? I hope he wins New Hampshire and clinches the nomination early.


ali said...

I was very upset for the majority of the evening last night - I was at a hockey game and saw "Edwards has an early lead" across the bottom of one of the TV screens, and then didn't learn anything more until I was in bed and Barry came to wake me up and tell me "Obama got it!" Funny how I didn't realize I supported him until I thought he wasn't winning!

Matt said...

You know, before going in, I had planned on being coy and listening to the Edwards people before deciding to support Obama. Give him one more chance to convince me. But when I walked in the door, I was asked by a perky Obama supporter if I was an Obama fan. I immediately said, yes, and took a sticker without hesitation. My heart knew I was for Obama even if my head was trying to be clever about it.

Dieter said...

When I caucused in 2004, it really did only take about 45 minutes. I think everyone was surprised at the turnout this time around. The total number of caucusers this time was almost double what it was last time, and a lot of precincts set new records for attendance.

And I don't know if it is a difference between this year and 2004, or a difference in precincts, but when I did it in 2004 almost no one was trying to convince others of the rightness of their candidates.

Mathman said...

I think it was supposed to be a neutral party doing the counting. At my precinct, the precinct chairperson came around and counted each group, reporting the number to the secretary who was following him around. However, we did only have 252 people (still double what they had in 2004), so that maybe made it more feasible to do that way.

cahaya said...

Thanks, that was a nice, thorough description of the event. Sounds like people still had to scrounge around for goodies and essentials like water, as long as it went. Well done, I felt like I was there the way you described it.

~ cahaya

Matt said...

Dieter, I didn't see a lot of trying to convince people. It was too much of a madhouse. A number of people planned to caucus for Biden or Dodd and already had a second choice figured out.

Thanks for stopping by Mathman and cahaya.

Zac said...

anyone else notice the similarities between the 2006 Presidential Election on the West Wing and the actual 2008 election, you have the young minority candidate from the democrats Santos and Obama respectivley, and you have the old Republican Govenor, Vinnick and McKain respectivly.