MS. ED

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Aftermath. The Iowa Caucus

Several children were playing a pickup game of soccer, kicking a ball around the parking lot at Morningside Elementary school, 3601 Bushnell Avenue, Sioux City, Iowa, as Caucus staff took boxes of voter information and other paraphernalia into the school.  

It was early, 5:30 pm, and a mild evening.  With a high of 44 that day, the twilight sparkled as dusk turned to darkness, and the atmosphere shifted into high gear.  The children, and their parents, the young and old, newcomers and old timers all lined up to go into the school’s cafeteria.  It was time to vote.

There had been much speculation about the weather.  The Washington Post wrote about it, trying to predict the weather (although admitting they could not).  There was a storm brewing, of course.  It hit the next day.

(Photo: trepid reporter February 2, 2016, outside a front door.)


The Iowa caucuses are not for the faint of heart, but contrary to “The Good Wife,” delegates do not follow a pied piper to struggling caucus groups (although loose meat sandwiches, aka taverns or Maid-Rites, are a big deal, as well as a popular bar food.  But many on caucus night just want to vote and get home before the storm.  And, unfortunately, Democrats not only vote, they cajole each other.

Precinct 24, for example, met in the lunchroom, and was divided evenly between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  There were 57 people who caucused for Sanders, and 54 people for Clinton.  Martin O’Malley had four people stand up for him (they went up to the front of the room and stood by themselves).  The rest of us sat on each side of the lunchroom.  Several of us walked over and convinced the O’Malley group to vote for Clinton.  They needed 14 more people, which was not going to happen. 

In Precinct 25, according to the Sioux City Journal (in a group that met in the auditorium just off from the lunchroom), 66 people voted for Sanders, 34 for Clinton and Martin O’Malley got 18 votes.  The Journal said one undecided voter got an offer for a free beer to join the O’Malley group.        

We were divided evenly.  Alex Watters, our caucus location chairman, asked if any of us wanted more time to cajole others.  He did not encourage it though (the groups were set in their ways, and he sensed people wanted to go home) so the vote was finalized.  At least one in the Clinton camp wanted to yell over there, but a seasoned caucus goer said it was pointless.  

Perhaps if we were in California….  There would have been an insurgency, I bet.  The good kind. 

Nick Hytrek, of the Sioux City Journal, reported a caucus goer said the Clinton caucus would have liked to have gotten some Sanders voters over to their side, but couldn’t.  This was true.  A long row of tables, a no man’s land, separated us all.  A great divide.  And, unfortunately, no one stood up to shout across that divide — to tell the misguided that their candidate could never win the general election.  It's a fact, if we ever caucus again — if I’m still around these parts, or this world, for example  — we're going to walk on over there.  We're going to tell ‘em.

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