Reporting from Precinct One, Knoxville, Iowa
In my never ending quest to bring the quirky, the wild, and the oddities, that lie between the Circles, I am reporting direct from Iowa on caucus night.
It’s a very good turn out here in Central Iowa. When the returns are in from outstate, we will post them as we receive them. Excitement is in the air, as people realize they are only hours away from ending the relentless phone calls from political campaigns.
It’s hard to be in Iowa during the election cycle, and not run into one campaign or another. Just on Friday I saw Rand Paul and his Corvette here in Knoxville. Since I was in the state on Caucus Night, I had to experience the process for myself.
The Democrats have the more interesting process: Each precinct gathers in a room, then divides up in groups depending on whom they support. With only three candidates, I did not expect a long, drawn out evening. The two large groups in the room belonged to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Martin O’Malley had a much smaller contingent of supporters, but they were rabid.
For the next 30 minutes, one group or another tried to convince their neighbors to join their candidate. After the half-hour, Martin O’Malley did not have enough supporters to hit the 15% viable threshold. His supporters were then wooo’d by the Bernie & Hillary camps, with slightly over half going for the Bern & the remainder joining Hillary. In the end, Clinton ended up with 53% of the precinct delegates, and Sanders left with 47%. A close race.
I spoke with a Vietnam vet, who at 67, was experiencing his first caucus. He was a supporter of Bernie Sanders, saying he just did not trust Clinton. Benghazi was his main cause against the former Secretary of State.
An employee of the school district also supported Sen. Sanders. It was her third caucus, and she said after meeting Sanders at an event, “He was my guy from that moment on.”
A third Iowan was supporting Secretary Clinton based on her experience, adding: “I just don’t think Bernie can win the general election”.
It was quite the experience to observe. Agree or disagree with Iowa being the first in the nation, Iowans do take their role seriously.
By the numbers:
At press time, with 97% of the precincts reporting, the Republican field’s Top 3:
Ted Cruz @ 28% 8 delegates
Donald Trump @ 24% 7 delegates
Marco Rubio @ 23% 7 delegates
Mike Huckabee ends Presidential bid.
Republican caucus numbers set a record with 180,000 attending.
With 99% of precincts reporting, the Democrat’s Top 2:
Hillary Clinton @ 49.9% 23 delegates
Bernie Sanders @ 49.6% 22 delegates
Martin O’Malley ends Presidential bid.
Democratic caucus attendance did not break the 2008 record numbers, but it was described as “robust”.
It should be noted that Iowa is not a “winner take all” state. Delegates are distributed based on the number of votes a candidate receives.