My town has about 1,000 residents (though many of the retirees are elsewhere this time of year). It had 276 registered Dems. In 2004, less than 30 people showed up to caucus. This year, 98 people showed up (and the weather was 33 degrees and raining).
There was about 45 minutes of confusion – the former head of the Democratic Committee was retiring (after a heart attack), so the new folks had to keep getting direction from the experienced ones. Plus we had to change rooms (to the gym) because the library was too small.
In this state, at least, a caucus is really a meeting of the Democratic Committee. So there were elections of secretary, treasurer and new chairman, then the representatives to the county committee. Once we finally got rolling, it went smoothly:
“I nominate so-and-so”
“Any other nominations?”
5 seconds of silence.
“All those in favor?” (Everyone raises their hand).
“Any opposed?” (No hands raised).
Finally we got to the Presidential race. About 15 minutes were used for speeches. A few more Obama speeches than Clinton speeches, and to much louder applause (though one mention of John Edwards got a good amount of applause). A lot of people had been to Obama’s appearance in Bangor (10,000 people in the Bangor auditorium, which doesn’t hold near that number) and were very enthused.
Then we moved to the ‘voting’ part.
First they asked if there were any Gravel supporters (none). Then Kucinich (one). Then Clinton (20 people).
And one undecided. So 76 Obama supporter stayed in the gym, with the business of select 3 delegates to the State convention, and 3 alternates. The Clinton supporters moved to the library to pick their one (plus one alternate).
There were only a small handful of young voters (not surprising, there aren’t many in this town). The Clinton supporters were almost all people from the established Democratic base (those who are always active). And what they seemed to be most worried about was that Obama wouldn’t be able to withstand the Republican Swiftboating machine in the general. They wanted experience. Or a woman.
One Obama supporter listed a few Clinton advisors, a few Obama advisors, and said “that’s why I’m for Obama”. One pointed out that he polls better against McCain than Clinton. Most Obama supporters spoke about enthusiasm, new voters, and his speaking ability.
There aren’t a whole lot of minorities in this town, either, but they all stayed in the Obama room (one African-American, two Latinos and one undetermined). No shortage of older or middle-aged women, either (two of whom said it was the enthusiasm of their children that brought them around).
So the Democratic Committee in this town is now all new faces, and all but one are Obama supporters. Maybe it says something about this “transformation” business.
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