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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Media Wrong, 2012 Minnesota Caucus Participation Exceedingly High

The media narrative on the 2012 Minnesota Republican Caucus turnout has it all wrong. I know, no surprise.
The "big story" is that turnout this year was 25% less than 2008. This must represent a depressed interest among Republicans in Minnesota. Even worse, those who did show up were the most "extreme" activists within the party.

Hogwash!

These reports conveniently ignore the unique circumstances that surrounded the 2008 caucus.

Throughout 2007 and leading into 2008, there was a heated contest between McCain and Romney for the Republicans and between Hillary and Obama for the Democrats. The media was in full swing behind Obama to "make history" without regard for qualifications. With no incumbent and the sitting VP not seeking the office, the Presidency was up for grabs. Republicans were desperate to keep it and Democrats were desperate to take it. Not only was the nomination for each party up for grabs, so was the Presidency itself. This played a big role in heightening interest in the caucuses.

But, the biggest factor in 2008 was the fact that the Minnesota Caucus was moved up from March to February to become part of Super Tuesday. For the first time, Minnesota was on the national stage and caucus attendees were able to make their voice heard BEFORE the nomination was decided. There was a lot of hype surrounding Minnesota's new role as part of Super Tuesday.

Super Tuesday, February 5, 2008 was he biggest "Super Tuesday" to date with 24 states holding primaries or caucuses. 40% of the Republican delegates were up for grabs. The media hype promoted participation. Pundits speculated that Super Tuesday would decide the nomination for the Republican Party.

In contrast, there were only three states holding primaries or caucuses this past Tuesday.

In 2008, my caucus had over 800 participants. This year we had about 500. But, most years, including 2000 and 2004, we were getting 200-250. Take away the anomaly of 2008's Super Duper Tuesday, and its clear that grass roots interest at the Republican caucuses in Minnesota is exceedingly high this year.

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