Wow. Just wow. Today we did the Washington State Democratic Caucuses. As my precinct’s PCO (Precinct Committee Officer), it was my responsibility to run the caucus for my precinct. I’d gone through some training on this a few weeks ago — and it largely consists of being able to follow directions and read from a script — so I wasn’t too worried about it.
At Washington Middle School, where we caucused, there were a total of 15 precincts doing their caucus, spread around the school. Since our area coordinator had been out of town until just a few days ago, I had been the one to do a site survey with the chair of the 37th democrats, standing in for her about a week ago. Rob and I had walked around the school, getting a feel for which parts we’d have available for our use.
We had decided to start in the cafeteria — which could comfortably hold about 300-500 people. If we needed to overflow after the area-caucus greeting, we were going to spill into the library and possibly a couple of classrooms across from the library.
Now, I wasn’t at the caucus in 2004 (if for no other reason than I still lived in North Carolina at the time!), so I didn’t know what to expect. The rumor was that 2004 was “pretty big turnout” and we even expected to double it this time. But a room that could hold 300-400 people for the 15 precincts onsite was probably going to be fine.
Wow. Just wow. We were so wrong!
The turnout was… absolutely… spectacular. By the time the doors opened for “early setup” at 11:45am there were already about 30 people lingering outside. By 12:30, we’d already long-since passed 300-400 people collecting in the cafeteria. By the time our 1:00pm start time passed, the cafeteria was packed like sardines and spilled out in the hallway.
Our final count (and I’m doing this from memory, so perhaps I mix up some of the numbers) for the full site with 15 precincts: 1378. Yes. Thirteen hundred and seventy eight people.
37-1833 was the largest precinct in attendance, providing >12% of the total attendees at the site: 173 voters.
Thinking ahead, I had even staked claim to one of the “large” classrooms, expecting my 30 to maybe 50 people to show up. We (again, 173 people) ended up packed like sardines in the classroom, with people spilling out into the hallway. So — quick digression — if you ended up listening to me talk from out in the hallway, I apologize! I can confidently say as one of the planners of the caucus, the turnout was significantly bigger than even my wildest imagination!
In any event, even given the naturally chaotic nature of a caucus and the overwhelming crush of people, things still went off pretty effectively. We got through all the business, counted the votes, elected the delegates, etc. Good stuff.
As a quick datapoint, 37-1833 ended up splitting our 9 total delegates to 8 delegates for Obama and 1 delegate for Hillary. A pretty decisive victory for Obama!