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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tales from the 1861

posted by on February 9 at 18:44 PM

Apparently, I live in one of the biggest precincts in Seattle. It was certainly one of the biggest of those caucusing at Seattle Central today, with 199 people participating. The line to sign in for our precinct stretched up the stairs and around the corner, and we had to move from the room they originally put us in to a big open hallway in order to accommodate everyone.

The guy running the show was inexperienced (he said he was asked to do this only yesterday), but he did a great job. There was a brief attempt to overthrow him, but a coin toss solidified his position.

As we waited for the sign-in sheets to be delivered from downstairs, we started in with 60-second speeches. At first, we went back-and-forth between Clinton and Obama supporters, but after a few rounds we ran out of Clinton supporters. The arguments were pretty what you’d expect:

Pro-Clinton: Obama’s an empty suit. Clinton has experience. She’s a coalition-builder. She’s a good administrator. Health care!
Pro-Obama: Coalition-builder, sure, like the one that was for invading Iraq. Obama is exciting and excitement is good. The Republicans really want to run against Clinton. Young is better than old. Health care!

I’m paraphrasing, of course.

The arguments were lucid and heartfelt, and it was inspiring to see so many of my neighbors so passionate about politics. The age range looked to be from 18 to about 487.

Finally, a woman appeared with our sign-in sheets. Overheard: “I think I smoked pot with her once when she was a he.”

As the votes were tallied, we identified the undecideds and attacked the hell out of them. My group swayed one to Obama.

Final count was 9 delegates for Obama (of which I am one), and 2 for Clinton. Something like 3 nutbags voted for Kucinich.

A coin toss was also used to determine which delegates would be primary and which would be alternates.

And since my caucus pictures look just like everyone else’s (read: boring), here’s how the caucus today really changed my life (with a little help from Western Digital):


RSS icon Comments


what's up with the tivo, dude?

Posted by brad | February 9, 2008 6:55 PM

I would like to thank ECD for my stunning victory in Seattle. I know she tried to co-opt the vaginas of Washington for the Clinton Campaign, but I have nothing but admiration for this fine young lady and her mysterious ways.

Posted by Obama | February 9, 2008 6:57 PM

*Sorry Erica, I meant ECB in the post above.

Posted by Obama | February 9, 2008 6:59 PM

Hugs for my Clinton friends. Our lines went around the block in Fremont - hope everyone had fun!

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 9, 2008 7:01 PM

I'm a first-time caucus goer from 43-1863 (Squire Park), and the result was 80% for Obama, 18% for Clinton, splitting the delegates 6-2. I'm one of the 6 Obama delegates. :D

I really hope we can get a similar crushing victory in our ceremonial upcoming primary, if not just to send a clear message that Obama can win caucuses AND primaries.

After my experiences today, I'm a huge fan of the caucus approach to voting. It is a human, almost visceral process. And with all the witnesses in the room, the possibility of vote-count irregularity is eliminated.

With the results we're seeing across the state, I can't believe the national race is so close. There was very little passion in our caucus room for Hillary from her supporters. Meanwhile, we had 8 people who wanted to be delegates for Obama, even though only 6 slots were available. We opted to do mini-speeches and voting to determine who would get to represent O. at the next caucus level.

Good times. Oh, and finally: When I phoned my mom, who lives in Moses Lake and detests all things Clinton and sort of supports Bush, to tell her that I am an Obama delegate, she cheered and said she and her husband would be voting for him. This illustrates one of the major reasons why I support Obama. I'm tired of polarizing Presidents. People love and hate Bush. People love and hate Clinton. People love or feel a slight disinterest in Obama. That's rather a good state of affairs, I think.

Posted by doctiloquus | February 9, 2008 7:04 PM

Hey man you don't have to call the Kucinich supporters nutbags. He won't win the nomination but it is important to show support for the candidate that you believe in, especially in caucus. I really think he might be the only sane person in politics. Give him a chance.

Posted by setuplikeabowlingpin | February 9, 2008 7:07 PM

I live in Clark County, and our caucus turnouts were incredible. This was my first caucus, and it was so much fun. I hope we hold on to the caucus system in Washington. Anyway, my caucus site went about 70% Obama. I was in a really small precinct of older ladies, so our delegates split 3-3. But the younger, more crowded precincts were more than double Obama supporters.

Posted by Erin | February 9, 2008 7:09 PM

1862 was hella disorganized too, people giving orders they thought were right...people being told it was ok to go after they signed in. my friend in west seattle had jim mcdermott as her caucus leader

Posted by Jiberish | February 9, 2008 7:41 PM

My caucus pictures are not boring, Anthony Hecht. My pictures are, like, a slice of my life. They have a kind of live-as-it-is-lived honesty that you don't see out in media-land. My caucus pictures are as beautiful as my pet pictures and my baby pictures.

Maybe you're the one who is boring. Anthony. God.

Posted by elenchos | February 9, 2008 7:50 PM

Voting for Kucinich at this point would have been like rooting for the Seahawks in the super bowl. Those people ARE nutbags. Ron Paul supporters have more sense.

Posted by Clint | February 9, 2008 8:03 PM

Your PCO sounds much better than ours. I don't know why, but he cut off the debate after two speeches for each candidate. And I was all psyched to listen for a while. Then he said, you have 2 minutes to circulate and try to convince people. But no one moved. I guess no one wanted to get too in your face. Plus, it wasn't clear who the uncommitteds were.

We had 100 people turn out for our precinct (against about 30 expected, and about 200 registered voters). We ended up breaking 66-32-2 (Obama-Clinton-uncommitted), which meant 3 delegates for Obama and 2 for Clinton, because of the rules. If the last two had gone for Obama, I think it would have been 4 to 1.

Posted by 43-1372 | February 9, 2008 8:32 PM

I'm confused. Caucusing made your hard drive bigger?

Posted by Fnarf | February 9, 2008 9:33 PM

Our Caucus Site, Nalanda West Buddhist Center (Fremont/Wallingford) was great. Early on, it was a packed madhouse, but then two extra rooms magically opened up and we were able to to accommodate the 300+ people (4 precincts) pretty well. NWBC provided much needed water, coffee, and cookies.

Everyone who showed up was really nice, even if they were misdirected to the wrong site before reaching us. (The State had put our draft caucus sites on the State website before our final list came out so a lot of people got lost.)

I ran the site with our Chair and I really couldn't have asked for better Precinct Caucus Chairs. We really lucked out; all four were organized and professional even though they had no idea they would be chairing when they walked in that day. The 43rd has 214 precincts and only about 100 precinct Committee officers so people had to appointed on-site.

However, we could not have done it without the Obama volunteers that showed up early and helped organize. They were already trained, dogged, and it would have been a real mess without them.

Posted by Stephanie Pure | February 9, 2008 10:45 PM

wow. clinton should really be embarrassed about these three. i think this and tuesday are the turning point. no going back now.

obama v mccain.

Posted by konstantConsumer | February 9, 2008 10:57 PM

11-1597 on Beacon Hill, at Mercer Middle School. I've been going to caucuses since 1970 when the Vietnam War was raging. I saw 34 Jerry Brown supporters overwhelm my living-room caucus in 1984. But I've never seen anything like today -- 87 voters in a precinct that sometimes doesn't even vote that many in regular elections!

Just amazing, and of course, the Delegate count was 10 for Obama, 2 for Clinton, about the same as everywhere else around greater Seattle.

There's something exciting going on out there, America, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Posted by Victorious Voter | February 9, 2008 11:04 PM

Oh, hey Fnarf, Anthony just means at his caucus site everybody got a Western Digital My DVR Expander. Not surprising in that area. Here in old Ballard of course we got a KitchenAid Tilt Head Stand Mixer. Not very high tech, but wonderful if you like to cook.

What did you get?

Posted by elenchos | February 10, 2008 8:59 AM

@8 -- it is okay to go after you sign in officially and write down your preference. That's all you have to do to be counted. What you give up is the swaying arguments, the re-vote and delegate elections.

Posted by Peggy G. | February 10, 2008 10:44 AM

We got bagels & cream cheese & muffins & pretzels & water & cookies at my caucus site. West Seattle knows how to take care of its own.

Posted by Explorer | February 10, 2008 3:30 PM

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