Living in Society

After an Iowa Caucus

Another campaign is over.

I am tired and borderline sick.

Tired because I didn’t get to sleep Monday night until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, messaging back and forth at midnight with a local reporter.

Sick because a good friend was sick, came to our Democratic precinct caucus, and spent a few minutes with me.

The Big Grove Democratic precinct caucus was some fun and a lot of what I expected. I will provide analytics in a future post but here’s what was important: attendees were engaged and respectful. While everyone didn’t get the outcome they wanted, many did.

This was my first time as caucus chair for a large group. In 2016 I was Hillary Clinton’s precinct captain. In 2012 I was chair of Cedar and Graham precincts in a consolidated caucus. In 2008 and 2004 I was caucus secretary. Because of years of public speaking experience dating back to my time in the military I felt comfortable at the microphone and dealing with issues that arose during the event.

I had a great team of volunteers for secretary, registration and crowd control. We started registration a little after 6 p.m. and the line was gone a couple of minutes before our 7 p.m. starting time. I estimated 50 minutes for check in during my planning, which was about right.

Many pixels have been spilled about the new reporting application used by the Iowa Democratic Party. It took me a couple of days to figure out the process, however, by Monday morning I was running test scenarios to familiarize myself with it. I reported our results using it at about 10 p.m. without any issue.

Tuesday I was contacted about a potential on-air interview about the reporting application. MSNBC Field Producer Dan Gallo had obtained a copy of an email thread in which county caucus chairs discussed the application and I was on it. I phoned and told him my story. It turned out to be a nothing burger because from a user standpoint, it worked as expected. That’s pretty boring for television and the on-air interview didn’t happen.

Most of my friends who were caucus chairs in other precincts were tired Tuesday as well. The six and a half hours from arrival at the high school to returning home from turning in my materials to the county party weren’t long. They were intense. Recovery will take a few days.

Tuesday I gave an interview to a student from Northwestern about the caucus. He asked a couple of questions about the application which I said worked from my end. He asked about all the news stories and the then unreported results. I said it’s not my fault the national media had plane tickets booked to New Hampshire and a filing deadline they couldn’t meet. They may have planned to write about the outcomes, but the outcome they decided to write about became there were no results. The narrative was a bucket of malarkey.

People said they wanted more transparency with what went on at the Iowa caucuses. The state party worked toward that end. The new process was complicated and is taking more time for state-wide results to be tabulated. It is transparent. What do you want? This isn’t Burger King where you can have it your way.

The count of presidential preference groups was accurate. We counted four times in our precinct, and reported results in the application and on paper. If it takes more time to report aggregated results accurately, so be it. Accuracy and the paper trail are what matters more than feeding a media narrative.

Attendees in our precinct watched the process unfold and when it was finished, ratified the numbers and slate of delegates to the county convention and our new central committee members. To a person people with whom I spoke left caucus with a feeling they had contributed to the Democratic process. In the end that’s what the Iowa caucuses are about and will continue to be about for as long as we hold them.

I’m feeling better as I write. This campaign is finished and another has already begun as our eyes turn toward the general election. Being tired and sick will pass, it is passing as a new day begins.

3 replies on “After an Iowa Caucus”

Thanks for reading my blog. Our four delegates will be seated at the county convention as their names were submitted on paper to the county party, not to IDP. Delegates to District and State convention are elected at the county convention. IDP has bigger problems at the moment of getting the count done. They have only posted 86 percent of the precincts as of 6 p.m. today, 48 hours after the caucus. I queried people I know about the error but don’t expect them to act until the initial count is finished.

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