So the Colorado party caucuses are over – and what have we learned/accomplished/settled/decided?
The plodding, arcane party processes continue. On the Republican side, caucus attendees selected delegates and alternates to the county assembly, the congressional district assembly and the state assembly. Those so chosen will then vote for which candidates for office they wish to see on the primary ballot. There was no presidential preference poll, and therefore no reason for any presidential candidate to visit Colorado and provide us with months of free theater.
Of the Republican candidates, only the amiable Ben Carson deigned to visit Colorado Springs. The rest of ‘em passed — too bad! Imagine The Donald doing his thing before 11,000 fans at the World Arena or Ted Cruz taking the stage to receive a gold-plated AR-15 from GOP senatorial candidate Tim Neville or Marco Rubio headlining a series of discreet fundraisers or Ohio Governor John Kasich vainly attempting to get former Ohio Governor Dick Celeste to endorse him — the mind reels!
The Dems had a preference poll and 74-year-old insurgent Bernie Sanders thoroughly trounced Hillary Clinton, 58.9 percent to 40.3 percent. That may seem like a resounding victory, but it isn’t. Of Colorado’s 78 delegates to the national convention, 66 are selected through caucus results. As of this morning, Clinton is projected to receive 24, Sanders 33. That ratio will likely hold, resulting in about a 38-28 split. The additional 12 are so-called superdelegates — elected officials and veteran Democrats. Clinton can be expected to get almost all of them, so she might end up with more delegates than Bernie: Some victory.
Yet Sanders showed amazing strength among the young voters who overwhelmed caucuses here and in the Denver metropolitan area. If the Democratic political landscape had resembled that of the Republican pre-Trump field — a fractious, uninspiring, underwhelming and marginally qualified group — Sanders would now be the unchallenged frontrunner. But Sanders has to go up against Hillary Clinton, a formidable campaigner who enjoys deep support from party elites and African–American voters.
Can Bernie pull it off? The pundits say no — the math just doesn’t work for him. Barack Obama beat Clinton by bringing together young idealists, Latinos, African-Americans and young professionals. That coalition no longer exists.
And what about Trump? His candidacy, his ascent and his staying power have confounded pundits, Republican power brokers and his fellow billionaires. His path to the nomination seems to be far clearer than that of his two principal rivals, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Today’s editorial in the New York Times was both apoplectic and apocalyptic, characterizing Trump as a “shady, bombastic liar” whose “ foul statements and shallow ideas can and should be exposed through detailed, dispassionate analysis and smart debate.”
That’s fine, guys, but GOP voters seem to like the Trumpster, despite his angry hyperbole.
So the game continues. Meanwhile, we can sit back and enjoy our own little circus. Caucus-selected delegates to the GOP assemblies will narrow the field of candidates for party nominations in the August primary. County commissioners, U.S. Senators, state legislators — it’s a full dance card. Too bad that state Republicans miffed their chances to be part of the big show, though.
Tellingly, it seems that GOP caucus goers are ready to get rid of he caucuses. Here’s an excerpt from a press release sent out this morning by the local party.
“Today, precinct leaders from El Paso County’s 242 precincts are returning their caucus packets to El Paso County Republican Headquarters. These packets contain the names of delegates elected to each of the upcoming assemblies and resolutions passed at the individual caucuses. It appears the most popular resolution was a resolution calling for an end to the caucus system and a regular primary instead. Although we began receiving and processing these packets only this morning, we have already received nine such resolutions passed at nine caucuses. These resolutions were not centrally organized but arose spontaneously at caucuses across the county. Some of them were passed unanimously. ”
El Paso County Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays said, “There appears to be a growing consensus to get rid of the caucus, as reflected in our resolutions, as well as the feedback we have received at Headquarters. In my opinion, it’s high time for a change.”
El Paso County Republican Executive Director Daniel Cole said, “More than 90 percent of Colorado Republicans never participate in the caucus process. I would expect them to prefer a primary, but it’s remarkable that so many caucus participants would also like to see a change.”
Great – better late than never! We’ll sit patiently and wait for the next go-round in 2020…