Living in Society

December is Caucus Prep Time


As the sun rises on Big Grove Township an electric space heater keeps my writing room warm. It snowed overnight and I can’t be distracted by chills. I did chores and am ready to go.

The current president won the 2016 election by 46 votes in Big Grove precinct after Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012. Despite the attention Iowa gets as first in the nation, the general election is more important here.

Of 1,431 registered voters, only 467 registered as Democrats. A more practical way to look at precinct politics is two out of three (66.7 percent) voters are not Democrats. While our county is strongly Democratic, our precinct is a swing district, regularly picking candidates based on factors other than party registration. This year local Republicans are expected to support Donald Trump for a second term, whereas Democrats have several major candidates and decisions to make. No preference voters will decide who wins in Nov. 3, 2020.

Between now and the caucuses I’m reaching out to Democrats. My purpose is to encourage caucus attendance and find volunteers. With the rule changes from the Democratic National Committee and Iowa Democratic Party, there is a lot of new stuff to learn. I attended training on how to run a precinct caucus last Saturday and will need help to check voters in and manage the gathering. I secured a voter list from the county auditor’s office to help find them.

The number of Democrats here shrunk by 20 percent since 2008, the last time we had so many candidates for president. I’m expecting 225 or so attendees in February, less than the 268 we had in 2008. That would be 48 percent turnout. There are a lot of new names on my list. In addition, about half of my volunteers from previous years either died or moved out of the precinct. I’ll need to get to know new people to recruit those I need.

With end of year holidays upon us the best use of today is to get organized so the final month can be spent pulling everything together.