Caucus Report: Kerry Shoots Self in Foot

I have said nothing on my blog about the Iowa Democratic Caucus until now, since talk is cheap and cheap talk doesn’t affect the results. But now I have returned from casting my vote and there is nothing left to do tell the story. And oh boy is it a good one.

I attended my local precinct which had 9 delegates to apportion. The caucus was held at a local church, which I objected to, I don’t think it’s appropriate to hold elections in a religious institution. The room was filled to double the expected capacity, there was an astonishing number of new caucusgoers, more than the registrars could handle, the caucus began quite late in order to process the surprisingly large crowd. The local Republican Caucus was held at the local high school, which makes no sense. I don’t see how the Democrats have to work out of a cramped church when the Republicans get a huge high school so they can all vote unanimously for Bush.

But anyway, the really interesting part was the vote. After an initial vote, any candidate polling less than 15% is declared unviable, and those persons must realign to a candidate or declare they are undecided. The only viable candidates were Dean, Kerry, and Edwards. Then everyone is given an opportunity to talk to other caucusgoers, to try to get them to come to their group. And here’s where it got really interesting.

The Kerry group had enough votes to get 4 delegates, but the Dean/Edwards vote was tied, the remaining delegates would have to be decided by coin toss. So the Kerry people decided to screw Dean by shifting 3 surplus voters to Edwards, to make the apportion 4-3-2. When the final vote was called, the Kerry faction discovered that they had miscalculated, they should have only shifted 2 voters, and they lost their 4th delegate. The final split of delegates was 3-3-3. Suddenly the Kerry faction wanted a third vote. They were overruled by the caucus supervisor, but only after much shouting and bickering, and a call to the Democratic Party HQ for a decision on rules. The Kerry people outsmarted themselves, and screwed themselves out of a delegate instead of screwing Dean out of a delegate.

At this moment, I’m watching Kerry make a “victory speech,” but he’s wrong. Kerry did not win Iowa. Kerry won delegates, just like Dean and Edwards. No single person wins the Iowa Caucus, it is not a winner-takes-all election. You cannot win the Iowa Caucus, you can only lose it. Gephardt, Kucinich, Lieberman, Clark and Sharpton lost, everyone else was a winner.

I won’t declare which candidate I voted for, but it should be obvious that one single vote changed the results of this caucus. Don’t ever think that your one vote doesn’t make a difference.

2 thoughts on “Caucus Report: Kerry Shoots Self in Foot”

  1. Horsetrading report from Iowa

    Charles Eicher reports on his caucus experience in his blog, Disinfotainment. Specifically, he recounts an amusing little horsetrading bit of gamesmanship in which the Kerry supporters managed to screw themselves out of a delegate: After an initial vot…

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