February 04, 2008

Colorado Caucus: Record Turnout Expected

Get there early to grab a seat (more info here, arrive by 6:30pm for 7:00pm start times):
Democrats and Republicans often have different takes on any given issue. However, on the eve of Super Tuesday, workers at the local headquarters of the respective parties were busy doing the same thing: answering phones.

"A lot of phone calls, a lot of e-mails, a lot of folks have never attended a precinct caucus," said Dick Wadhams, the head of Colorado's Republican Party.

"We actually put in nine new phone lines, there's not a line that's free," said Pat Waak, the head of Colorado's Democratic Party.

9NEWS political analyst Fred Brown says the buzz surrounding the caucus can be partly attributed to the fact that this year's caucus is being held earlier than in the past. Colorado traditionally took part in the process of selecting presidential nominees in March. By then, decisions on nominees were usually already made due to the previous caucuses and primaries. Brown says that made the Colorado caucus a moot point and a lackluster event.

"Now it's early enough in the process that Colorado could have an impact, along with all the other states of course. Everyone will be paying attention to California and New York, but Colorado is right there playing its part," said Brown.

Pollster Floyd Ciruli said caucuses typically attract less than 5 percent of registered partisan voters. Even with the poorly understood system this year, at least double the historic numbers of voters are expected, or more than 200,000 partisans.
CBS4 has a more detailed primeron Colorado's caucus for those who would like more detailed information, including a rough explanation of what will go down tomorrow night.

A flyover state no longer?
Last year the state legislature and the state parties agreed to move up the caucus date to Feb. 5. Other states did the same and now 24 states are participating in Super Tuesday.

"No one wants to be a flyover state, and Colorado was a flyover state," said House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder. "People would pop in and do a fundraiser in Aspen. Now we have substantial debate in Denver and Broomfield and Boulder."

Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and their surrogates descended on Colorado last week and Monday to drum up caucus support, and Ciruli expects the visits to last throughout the campaign.

"We are going to be in play in November," he said.

That's because Colorado's unaffiliated voters - the second- largest voting block behind Republicans - help call the shots. Both parties will be trying to woo the unaffiliated and undecided voters, as well as proving they care about Western issues, Ciruli and Madden said.

"Every state matters, but in the long run the electoral votes in the West are going to help decide who is the next president of the United States and everybody knows that," Madden said.

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