Last year people waited in line for hours, packed into schools and community centers to join their precinct caucuses and organizers ran out of ballots early in the evening. This year it was a much calmer affair – the rooms were far less crowded and there were no lines. If the 2009 Minneapolis caucuses on March 3 were any indication, citizens have not fallen in love with caucusing, but were excited about a groundbreaking presidential election year.
“These [local] candidates are just not as well known. There was a lot more publicity and news coverage about last year’s candidates and caucus,” said Peter Janelle, a precinct captain for Minneapolis City Council candidate Jose Velez.
I attended my Ward 1, Precinct 10 DFL caucus and was one of only 16 people. Most of the hour and a half was spent choosing delegates for the upcoming ward convention and we didn’t even have enough members to cast votes. Most of the candidates were there however, and went to each precinct room to pass out information on their campaign and give brief speeches.
“These smaller caucuses are kind of nice because we get to hear from most of the people running, which obviously isn’t possible for presidential caucuses,” said Augsburg College student, Dietrich Bijnagte.
While the 2009 Minneapolis caucus did give people a chance to meet some of their neighbors and their local candidates, it definitely didn’t seem to excite and motivate people to engage in the political process like last year. More people attended the Ward 1 caucus in 2008 (4,148) than attended all Minneapolis caucuses in 2009 (3,134).
Mysti Strege is a student at Hamline University and an intern at the TC Daily Planet.