My introduction to the word “caucus” came from an Alice in Wonderland cartoon I watched as a kid, in which one of the talking animals declared that Alice and the other talking animals in the vicinity should engage in a caucus race. I remember one of the characters shouting, “A caucus race! A caucus race!” All the animals were thrilled, but Alice was perplexed. The race consisted of them all running around in no particular route or order, and just stopping whenever they felt like it. There was no prize, but they all wanted one.
While I can certainly draw parallels between this presidential election and Lewis Carroll’s caucus race, Kentucky’s first Republican caucus wasn’t like that. In fact, it was orderly and efficient, and not much different than a normal voting process in my state.
History truly was made on Saturday as Kentucky held its first Republican caucus. As a registered Republican, I was determined and eager to take part in this occasion. The polls opened at 10 a.m., so I got there at 9:45 a.m. Cory predicted that no one would show up, given the typical voter turnout in regular elections. I told him I had a feeling that folks would come out of the woodwork for the caucus, if for no other reason, to be a part of history. The larger reason, I believe, is that Republicans as a whole are willing to turn out for anything that allows them the opportunity to exercise their right to support conservatism, and therefore oppose liberalism. (Relax, that’s as political as I’m going to get in this post.)
Although I arrived 15 minutes before showtime, the line to get in was already snaked through the parking lot with hundreds of voters.
The line moved surprisingly quickly after the doors opened. Once inside, I saw tables bearing packets of information for each candidate. I already knew who had my vote, so I just stayed in line. The line spilled into an area partitioned off by black curtains. That was where all the tables with the binders were. I got excited when I saw that CNN and the Associated Press were there. They could have gone to Kentucky’s better-known cities of Louisville, Lexington or Frankfort, our capital, but they chose our little southcentral gem. Probably because this is where former Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is from. Oh! And when they were live, I walked right behind them. So I’m basically a national celebrity now.
After signing in and receiving my ballot, I walked over to the far side of the room where there were high tables set in a side hallway. It was kind of weird filling out my ballot with two other people standing next to me, but I got over it, realizing that, regardless, we would probably all end up pulling for the same person.
Ted Cruz took my county of Warren, and my home county of McCracken, but Donald Trump ended up taking the state at 35.92 percent. The results and more information on the caucus can be found here.
I’m glad I participated in the caucus. Even though I got a little cold standing outside in line, it was a fun experience. What excited me most, however, was the voter turnout. I’m a bit of a romantic patriot (is that even a thing?), and I feel all sunny inside when I see Americans exercising their right to vote. It’s about the easiest way to show support or opposition, so why not do it?
I’ve included some graphs that show caucus voter turnout this year, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. My prediction for a high Republican turnout in Kentucky was based on these results from other states. It seems that Republicans are making a comeback in the polls.