Last night, Suzanne and I volunteered as Precinct Captains for Amy Klobuchar’s campaign in Marshalltown, Iowa – a site we requested because I grew up on a farm 10 miles north of that city. (The caucus took place at Marshalltown Community College, which my two older brothers attended in the early 1960s.)
We arrived early to the caucus so we could talk to the caucus chair to make sure we understood our responsibilities for the evening. The caucus started on time at 7 p.m. and things started smoothly. The chair gave some introductory remarks and then it was time to determine the all-important number of attendees.
A volunteer gave numbered voting cards to those attending, who each wrote their first choice on the front of the card. The number who filled out cards: 151.
According to Iowa caucus rules, a candidate must get at least 15 percent of the total number to be considered “viable,” so this meant that each campaign needed to attract 23 people.
The next step was the “first alignment.” Each caucus goer was invited to stand under a sign for the candidate that was their first choice. Volunteers counted the number of people standing under each sign and the totals were announced:
Yang – 10
Klobuchar – 14
Buttigieg – 31
Sanders – 41
Warren – 26
Steyer – 7
Biden – 24
At this point, confusion started. Those numbers added up to 153. Oops!
The organizer collected all of the cards from the four viable groups and eventually determined that two people had been counted twice.
The delegates from non-viable groups then moved to the viable groups to determine the “second alignment.” The new totals:
Buttigieg – 41
Sanders – 47
Warren – 31
Biden – 31
Oops again. Those numbers added to 150, which caused more confusion until they found a card from an Amy supporter who had marked the box on the card that said that she did not want to align a second time.
Bernie and Pete each got four delegates and Biden and Warren got three.
We were discouraged that Amy did not get any delegates at our caucus, but we heard she did well in other Marshalltown precincts. I was impressed with Pete Buttigieg’s organization in Marshalltown, where he had an office and recruited a county resident to be the precinct captain in every precinct.
After the precinct, we drove to Des Moines for Amy’s celebration party. We were encouraged as we spoke to other precinct captains at the party. Lots of precincts had Amy in first or second place. Overall, the campaign felt Amy was doing better than expected and Biden was doing worse. Both results would benefit Amy.
It quickly became apparent that things were not going well for the Iowa Democratic Party. No results were reported last night due to reporting problems and we still don’t know the results as I write this.
I have to compliment Amy for being the first candidate to get onto the TV and declared she had “punched above her weight” was moving on to New Hampshire. She gave a powerful speech declaring that she is here to “Unite and Lead. So, on to New Hampshire.
My not-original prediction is that Iowa will not hold the first-in-the-nation caucus in 2024.
Here we are optimistically waiting for the caucus to begin
Iowa Caucus Voting Cards
With Amy at the Celebration Party in Des Moines