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Unraucous Caucus 2008

February 11th, 2008

February 9 was the Democratic caucus here in Washington State, and it was also my first time attending a caucus. This year, all Democratic delegates were being chosen at the caucus, not at the primary, so to have any kind of say in who Washington State approved as the Democratic nominee for President, a-caucusing I would go.

Now a caucus is not like a primary or a regular election. There’s no stopping by the polling place at the local church or school before work, figuring out what precinct you’re in, sign your name, get a ballot, and make your selections as fast as possible, all taking about five minutes. Oh no, a caucus is a commitment, in both time and aggravation. Why aggravation? The middle school my precinct was caucusing at (should I say ‘caucussing’?) was jam-packed with people trying to find their precinct table (or room). It took 30 minutes just for me to find the right place, as so many people showed up, they had to open up lots of other rooms in the school to make room for them all. My specific precinct had so many people attending that we got our own classroom. And by the way, being in a middle school was a flashback I really did not need. If you’re the type that doesn’t go to the movies because all the other people annoy you, a caucus-goer you don’t wanna be. Let’s just say, “Hell is other people,” and leave it at that.

But a funny thing happened at the caucus – it really wasn’t bad once we all got into our designated spots and began. I say this is ‘funny’ not because I know from past experience, but because the old-timers there were noticeably shocked at how smoothly things went and how polite people were. Some of the old-timers were even disappointed at how nice everyone was when it came time to select delegates and their alternates. People were voluntarily switching from delegate to alternate just to even things out. The surprised look on the precinct captain’s face is something I’ll treasure for the rest of this election season, I’m sure.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as how many Clinton vs Obama supporters would be at the caucus. Some of my relatives are for Clinton for some strange reason, but you know, some people are just like that — there’s no explaining them. I knew I was in good company when I noticed that 9 out of 10 people with campaign stickers on were Obama supporters. I was on time and they were long-since out of Obama stickers by the time I got there.

Our initial count of 106 people consisted of 88 Obama supporters, 11 Clinton supporters, and 7 undecideds. After some remarkably civilized discussion, we convinced 5 of the 7 undecideds to declare for Obama. The other 2 stayed undecided. It was clear from the outset that most of the undecideds wanted to go for Obama, but just needed that extra push. Peer pressure rocks! No Obama or Clinton supporters fell for each other’s Jedi mind tricks.

A weird thing I heard from many of the (few) Clinton supporters was that they said they were supporting Clinton because they felt she had become the “underdog” in this race since everyone was attacking her “for no reason.” I think this is a pretty silly reason to support someone for President, but whatever. Like I said, some people are just like that.

When it came time to select delegates, we kicked the few Clinton people out into the hallway to make their selection (gently, though). Seriously, if you Clinton supporters can’t read the writing on the wall by this point, you’d best just follow or get out of the way.

Another amusing moment came when we realized we had swayed one of the undecideds over to Obama so thoroughly that he became really gung-ho about being an Obama delegate. Well, good on him — we let him. Sucker.

So with the number of people we had, the formula came out to 8 precinct-level delegates, 7 of which were for Obama, and 1 for Clinton. While the State of Washington didn’t go quite that far in support of Obama (something like 68% Obama, 31% Clinton last I checked), that was a pretty okay way to spend 2 hours of my day, even a Saturday.

No new movies came out that weekend that I wanted to see.

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