Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Caucus!

Colorado’s Republican caucus was held last night (February 7). To me, it is like a pre-season game in the NFL: It sets you up for The Main Event.

Our 2012 caucus was less popular than the 2008 caucus. My precinct covers about 450 Republican voters. In 2008, we had over 30 people attend our caucus. This year there were sixteen. (I can remember a year when only four people attended!) Caucus attendance seems to be a proxy for the level of political energy in our electorate.

The purpose of the caucus is to provide direction for the county assembly coming up next month. The county assembly is where delegates will be chosen for the state assembly, which will in turn choose delegates for the national convention. The precinct caucus is where it all begins.

The caucus is also where a “sense of the Republican base” is taken. We participate in a non-binding straw poll to find out the popularity of the various candidates. At our precinct, eleven of us went for Romney, three went for Santorum, one person voted for Newt Gingrich, and one voted for Ron Paul.

The state results were not representative of our precinct. Of the 66,027 votes cast in Colorado, Santorum received 40% (26,614), Romney received 35% (23,012), Gingrich received 13% (8,445) and Paul received 12% (7,759).

The straw poll gives an idea of voter sentiment, but things can change. Our precinct elected two delegates to the county assembly, and those two delegates were supporters of Gingrich and Romney. Our primary alternate is a Santorum supporter. Depending on who actually attends the assembly, the basic motivations of those representing our precinct will differ.

At the county assembly, our delegates can vote for any candidate. They might vote for their personal favorite, or be swayed to vote for someone else. Nothing is final until the national convention.

All of this must drive Republican presidential candidates to distraction. Their campaigns take on the characteristics of a type of mating dance, where they work to gain political traction before running out of funds. They court us for our votes, knowing that not until those of us in the electorate enter the voting booth and pull a lever does all of this “count.”

THEREFORE, as a personal service (and in an attempt to give candidates insight into the Republican psyche), here is where I stand (currently):

--I don’t think Ron Paul should be our candidate for president. He is well-positioned as a principled legislator with a no-compromise set of values, and should remain a Congressional Representative from Texas.

--Rick Santorum has the unfortunate mantle of a Republican caricature. He leads with devotion to religious precepts, and does not have broad appeal in a secular America.

--Newt Gingrich has spent a life in politics, and comes across as inauthentic. This quality is personified by the use of Callista (his current wife) as a prop. You worry that she would appear disheveled in a stiff breeze, and it gives a Potemkinesque quality to Newt’s campaign.

--That leaves Mitt Romney. He has an edginess about him that is both appealing and concerning. He is unafraid of large and politically risky tasks, and seems to be genuinely interested in doing what is best for America. He has enjoyed success in his personal and professional life and projects a sense of being a winner (apologies to Charlie Sheen).

But here is the tie-breaker:

I am married to a Democrat. She has become disenchanted with our current president, and thinks Romney might very well receive her vote.  That is a strong incentive.

I’m for Mitt.

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1 comment:

  1. I respect your Mitt leanings, but I'm no fan of the gentleman.