The 2016 Colorado Democratic Caucuses


So, I participated in a caucus for the first time tonight.

Some general thoughts:

  1. Colorado has a closed caucus, which means that you have to be registered with the party your caucusing with. Moreover, the results of the precinct polls are not binding on the delegates selected to go to the county convention, though they are strongly encouraged to continue to represent the precinct’s vote. I suspect that most precincts help to ensure this in the same way mine did, by choosing partisans on each side to represent the actual vote split. (For example, in my precinct had 7 votes, with the the presidential poll split 5 for Sanders and 2 for Clinton. So we chose 5 volunteers who had voted for Sanders and 2 that had voted for Clinton, with one alternate from each camp.) Interestingly, “uncommitted” was treated in all cases like an actual candidate, with the effect of producing “free votes” at the county convention.

  2. I wound up voting as “uncommitted” in many of the races, as I’ve found it difficult to find information about many of the candidates this early in the process. There was a long set of speeches by on behalf of the various candidates early on, but these turned out to be less than useful for me, partly because it took so long to get registered that I missed most of the speeches, and partly because the gymnasium where the speeches were given was sorely in need of a sound system, and I found most of what was said unintelligible. I suspect that the only way to be even minimally informed at the primary level is to be on every candidate’s mailing list… Which is going to mean a truly unfortunate volume of email.

  3. The entire caucus process took about 2 hours, which is really amazing given the number of people who attended. I arrived only ten minutes after the doors opened, at which point the line to get into the high school where the caucus was being held already wrapped around most of the school. The line moved swiftly, but by the time I got to the door as many people as had been in front of me had already lined up behind. Despite this, the entire process was handled extremely efficiently. I think the entire thing gave me much more of an appreciation of the importance of process than I’d previously had.

  4. That said, I continue to be disappointed by Bernie Sanders’ supporters. By my count 135 people showed up for my precinct, overwhelmingly favoring Sanders. But, as soon as the presidential polling was complete, the vast majority (about 2/3rds) of Sanders’ supporters just… Left. I don’t think one of Clinton’s supporters did. I don’t know if this experience was replicated elsewhere, but if it was then maybe Sanders’ seemingly inevitable loss is for the best… His supporters seem more committed to him personally than the constellation of ideas he represents, with the effect that candidates for other offices that share his positions are not benefitting from the energy he’s generating. So much for that “revolution”.