Allamakee County party leaders pleased with local caucus experience despite varying situations

The Monday, February 3 Iowa caucuses brought with them their own respective challenges from both the Democrat and Republican perspectives, but local leaders of both political parties agree that the caucus efforts and overall results in Allamakee County are something to be proud of.

Any concerns of lacking interest by Republicans due to just a single front-running candidate were quickly alleviated by the “much larger showing than... anticipated” turn-out reported by local party leaders and “record-breaking” turn-out reported by state Republican leaders. Despite the overshadowing results reporting challenges faced within the Democratic caucus scenario at the state level, local leaders of that party are very pleased with not only the turn-out but also with how well the Allamakee County caucus efforts played out in their functionality and purpose.

Local caucus-goers had the opportunity to provide their input on the early tone of the 2020 presidential race, but results of those caucuses in Allamakee County didn’t necessarily reflect the same results experienced on a statewide basis in all cases.

Local leaders say attendance at the Allamakee Democratic Caucuses was similar to that in 2016, numbering in the mid-400 range. What they noted as being different was that a quarter of the caucus-goers were either registering for the first time or changing their party affiliation to Democrat.

The Allamakee Democratic Central Committee set the 2020 County Convention size at 90 delegates. Based on caucus participation, those delegates in Allamakee were awarded as follows:

Pete Buttigieg - 32 (35.5%)
Amy Klobuchar - 19 (21.1%)
Joe Biden - 13 (14.4%)
Bernie Sanders - 13 (14.4%)
Elizabeth Warren - 7 (7.8%)
Andrew Yang - 5 (5.5%)
Tom Steyer - 1 (1.1%).

About the only place where Allamakee County caucus results were in alignment with statewide results within the Democratic realm was on each end of the candidate spectrum, but even then to differing degrees. Similar to Allamakee County, Buttigieg also emerged at the top of the statewide results, but by a much narrower margin with just 26.2% of Iowa’s support that edged out the 26.1% garnered by Sanders, whose support in Allamakee County of just 14.4% dropped him into a third-place tie with Biden, who also received a bit more support statewide at 15.8%.

The two leading ladies in the caucus results were virtually flip-flopped from Allamakee County to statewide results, as Klobuchar gained a greater share of support in Allamakee County than the 12.3% support she ended up with statewide and ended up second among local voters. Conversely, Warren’s 18% statewide support that placed her third among Iowa caucus goers dropped to just 7.8% in Allamakee County, where she finished fifth.

The other end of the spectrum saw Yang and Steyer finish in the same positions - sixth and seventh, respectively - both statewide and in Allamakee County. Both received a larger percentage of support locally, as Yang managed just one percent among state of Iowa voters and Steyer garnered just three-tenths of a percent statewide.

Allamakee County Democratic Central Committee Co-Chairs Karen Pratte and Lori Egan commented that the caucuses ran smoothly because of the well-trained volunteers, the energetic and engaged caucus attendees, and the open, transparent and accurate counting attested to by the preference groups’ representatives. Pratte stated that she had each precinct’s results by the end of the night February 3, but that the problem occurred when caucus leaders attempted to report their results to the Iowa Democratic Party via the reporting app. When they tried to call in their results, it appears that the back-up phone system was overloaded as well.

“Fortunately,” Pratte said, “we have a paper trail of the results. The counties keep a copy of the Caucus Math Worksheet from each precinct which contains all the results from the caucuses. The original worksheets were turned over to the Iowa Democratic Party.”

Egan added, “The media, the pundits and the public have unrealistic expectations at times considering the lack of broadband in the rural corners of our state. I would prefer the data I receive is accurate and if that takes a little longer to get, that is okay.  Overall, the Allamakee County Democratic Caucuses were a great success.”

Local Democratic leaders say the caucus process is fueled primarily by committed volunteers who give of their time and energy, as these volunteer caucus chairs and caucus secretaries participated in live and online training sessions as well as a practice mock caucus to come well prepared to lead their precincts’ caucuses. Each candidate group appointed someone to help with the counting to assure that the count was accurate and agreed upon by all caucus-goers.

An accurate count is the foundation for determining viability (requiring a 15% threshold) and for allocating delegates. In all of the 11 precincts, these representatives attested to the accuracy of numbers by signing the Caucus Math Worksheet which helped to insure a transparent and fair process. After the first alignment when some members discovered their group was not viable, most aligned with another preference group. Delegates were then awarded to the viable preference groups.

Local Democratic leaders say caucus-goers remained engaged after the allocation of delegates, noting that many who were attending the Democratic caucuses for the first time readily volunteered to help with the County Convention. The vast majority remained to discuss resolutions for the Allamakee Democratic Party Platform, which is a statement of the Democrats’ core principles and beliefs. After adjournment, caucus chairs reported people thanking them for the well-run caucuses and indicated they were glad they had participated.

Although the selection was not nearly as varied on the Republican scene, representatives at both the local and state level of the Republican party still reported strong caucus turn-out. Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann described the statewide participation as “decisive, record-breaking caucus results” in a released statement.

More locally, the February 3 caucus was the first for Allamakee County Republican Central Committee Chairperson Dan Emerson. “We had a much larger showing than I think most of us anticipated,” he shared. “Talking to some other caucus sites around the state, that seemed to be the trend; some with standing room only at their locations. Our Allamakee County locations were well organized, and it was a great first learning opportunity for me.”

With President Donald Trump being “challenged” by former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, he had no issues at any level in claiming nearly all of the Republican caucus support. While he garnered 97.1% of the statewide measure, Trump missed out on just one vote among Allamakee County caucus goers, finishing with 99.4% of the local support as Walsh was granted one vote in Precinct 3, which included Post and Franklin Townships, and Weld did not receive a single vote.

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