Attendance at last Tuesday’s Colorado Democratic caucus broke state records set in 2008 when Barack Obama ran against Hillary Clinton.
About 200 people showed up at the Woodland Park Library to show their support for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Big crowds also occurred in the Ute Pass Elementary School, where a record amount of attendees were forced to assemble into various rooms due to fire code regulations.
Teller County Democratic chairperson Laurie Glauth called the process “organized chaos.” While there was a lot of enthusiasm, the atmosphere was civil and cordial as people separated into groups by precinct.
Matt, a lifelong Democrat said, “This is the first time I am undecided who to vote for. I like Bernie but have some misgivings about his chances”
As precinct 9 voters settled in under the stairs, on the lower level of the library, the first order of business was a straw poll. Of the 46 precinct 9 voters, 25 raised there hand for Bernie Sanders and 21 voted for Hillary Clinton. There were no undecided voters in precinct 9.
After the straw poll, voters were given the chance to express their thoughts on why they supported their candidate. Hillary supporters touted her foreign affairs experience, support of women’s rights, ability to energize the minority vote, electability, and the likelihood that she would be more successful dealing with Congress.
Sanders supporters talked about how he would break up the “too big to fail” banks by reinstating the Glass Steagall Act, which limited commercial bank securities, activities, and affiliations within commercial banks and securities firms, his promise to make college free to everyone, provide universal healthcare, address income inequality, and end corporate welfare.
One millennial generation attendee in precinct 9 said, “I am very concerned about the cost of college and the debt people my age are taking on because of it.” She went on to add, “Millennials will not even talk about Hillary. I’m afraid if she is nominated they just will not turn out.”
At the end of the night Bernie Sanders carried Teller County with 219 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 126 votes. At the Ute Pass Elementary location, which hosted Precinct 740, comprised of Green Mountain Falls, Cascade and Chipita Park Democratic voters, Sanders won by a 63-28 tally. These results were consistent with state trends. The Republicans also held caucuses, but due to a decision by sate party leaders, opted not to conduct any preferential presidential polls.
As for lifelong Democrat Matt, who was undecided at the beginning of the caucus, he was swayed to support Clinton in the end. He said, “I was persuaded to go with Hillary because I feel she is more electable and she energizes the minority vote more than Sanders. There is too much at stake in the election to allow the likes of Trump, Cruz, or Rubio to become President.”
While the Democratic caucus at the Woodland Park Library was “organized chaos,” other locations were more chaos than organized. The registration at Ute Pass Elementary site was extremely disorganized, with many participants left to find their own names on voter registration lists. Despite the inconveniences and standing-room-only crowds, few caucus-goers complained.
In some cases throughout the state, people were turned away from the caucuses because of heavy turnout, as designated caucus facilities were filled to capacity.
The process was so contemptuous at some locations in Colorado that state officials are seriously considering dropping the caucus format for a presidential primary instead.
In a rare spirit of cooperation, both Republican and Democrats have tentatively agreed to push for changing to a primary by the 2020 election. State GOP Chairman Steve House told the Associated Press that he and the head of the state Democratic Party have agreed to push for a primary to allow for more people to participate in the process. He said, “We’ve got to do something different to involve more people because it’s our country we’re talking about here.”