our first iowa caucus experience

Republican Iowa Caucus Precinct 16 at Lucas School in Iowa City, Jan 3, 2012.

The outgoing and newly-elected Chairs speak at the Precinct 16 Republican Iowa Caucus at Lucas School in Iowa City, Jan 3, 2012.

Roslyn and I (and baby Mac) just finished our first Iowa Caucus experience. After participating in the Coffee Bean Caucus at Hamburg Inn this weekend, we did the real thing tonight in Iowa City, home of The University of Iowa Hawkeyes, as well as the Departments of Religious Studies and Classics (where I teach).

As most of you know, we are registered as unaffiliated voters in Iowa (just as we were in California). This means we do not belong to a political party. Because the Democratic and Republican caucuses take place at the same time at different places, you can only attend one. And, you must be registered with the party that is caucusing in order to participate. Luckily, you can register with the party at the door. So, since the Democratic Iowa Caucus is uncontested, Ros and I chose to attend the GOP Iowa Caucus, and registered as Republicans at the door.

(Fear not, we’ll re-register as unaffiliated voters in a couple of weeks and reassert our independent status. But we wanted to attend a contested primary and as moderate independents, either party will work for a night.)

So we went and we participated. And I tweeted the process live. We listened to short, 5-minute speeches from representatives of some of the candidates. And then we voted. And this is the big difference between the GOP and Democratic caucuses: at the GOP caucus, after the 5-minute pitches, you take a secret ballot vote. The votes are then counted and the winners announced. However, at the Democratic caucus, you ‘vote with your feet': you physically walk to areas for each candidate and are counted. Then, after an initial vote, backers of different candidates walk around and attempt to convince other caucus participants to join them in support of their candidate. This is especially important for candidates with less than 15% of the vote, who cannot receive delegates. But at the GOP caucus, we simply voted and awaited the result.

MacLaren couldn't handle the excitement at the Precinct 16 GOP Iowa Caucus at Lucas School, Jan 3, 2012.

All of the excitement was too much for MacLaren to handle at Precinct 16 of the GOP Iowa Caucus at Lucas School, Jan 3, 2012.

We were told that Republican Precinct 16 is one of the larger GOP precincts in the People’s Republic of Johnson County, so Precinct 16 may very well be a decent model for the larger GOP Iowa Caucus field.

The announced results were as follows:

Romney: 62
Paul: 48
Santorum: 28
Gingrich: 10
Perry: 10
Huntsman: 2
Bachmann: 2
Undecided: 1

It was simple and I must admit, it was the most fun and most personal experience I’ve ever had as a voter (although MacLaren was completely overwhelmed by the excitement). I like the Iowa Caucus process, and next election we’ll attend the Democratic Caucus to actually ‘vote with our feet’.

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4 Responses

  1. Good for you! Thanks for posting this. I found it quite interesting. In California, our votes don’t really matter. The Iowa election has always fascinated me. I was grateful for the chance to get an inside look.

    God bless!

  2. Thanx. I am told the Democratic caucus is much more of a cacophony of political debate (which I like), but this was an excellent way to watch my vote literally be counted.
    Thanx for your note :) -bc

  3. From my son’s Facebook post a bit ago:

    Caucus over, went pretty well for the most part. The burning of Obama in effigy as we ate live puppies and sacrificed children to Ronald Reagan went as pla, uh, I mean, all votes were tallied and Ron Paul won with 40 votes, Mitt Romney, 27, Santorum, 26, Newt Gingrich 8, Michelle Bachmann 7, Rick Perry, 6, and Jon “I would have voted for you had you not taken a potshot at my home state” Huntsman trailed with 2 votes.

    BTW, this from a kid who, in his first caucus (1996), voted for Buchanon, just to piss me off.

  4. Love it! Thanx!

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