Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Jam Packed Anchorage Democratic Caucus

[Video in next post.]

I already had a suspicion that the Anchorage Democratic Caucus would be crowded. We've never really had a caucus before that had any impact. But this time we were on the media hyped Super Tuesday. People who would normally vote on a primary would be out. When I turned off Lake Otis onto Debarr, I began to wonder. I'm not usually on the road at 5pm, but things didn't move.

Five minutes later I was only a little further. Were all these people going to Begich Middle School for the Caucus? Then we had four or five more miles like this. No way. I followed the lead of some other cars and turned left before Costco and then got onto Bragaw and then the Glenn. Here things were whizzing along.

Until just after the 1/2 mile to Muldoon sign. Then we were back to a crawl. But I once on Muldoon it was easy to the Fred Meyer parking lot, and I found a spot and walked over a block to the school. .

It was a clear cold night and the mountains were spectacular, even if my photography isn't. It was 6:10pm. This normally 15 minute ride had taken over an hour. The caucus was supposed to start at 5:30pm. Well, they'd have to wait for everyone to get through the traffic.

This is NOT the school parking lot. These are fire lanes.

Finally got to the building and saw into a packed room.

Here are the people in the hallways.

Looking the other way. It was wall to wall people. There were lots of Obama and Hilary signs, but no signs to tell you what to do or where to go. People at the door were handing out registration forms. But I was already registered. I was supposed to get a blue card and then go to my district room. But this was the line to get a blue card. Someone said I could go to my district room without a blue card and sign in there. Where was my room? No one seemed to know. I wandered up and down the halls going into classrooms and asking what district it was. There was one map that showed the rooms and the districts. But it was only the second floor and mine wasn't on it.

Down at the end of the hall was another map that showed the room numbers, but not the districts. No one there had any idea. So I wandered back on the second floor (the first floor was too crowded to move.)

I made it to the gym where there was yet another mass of people. This is where the lines, if you can call them that, were headed. This is where people were getting blue cards and room assignments. But they were giving up. Someone had a mike and was telling us what room to go for what district. Finally. And we didn't need blue cards. When I got back down to the other side of the building, I wrote the name of my district and the room number on the map, but it was on plastic and my pen wasn't very good.

Once inside the room, packed with about 100 people or more, the loud speaker system started working. Here it was easy. We divided into Obama side, Clinton side, and uncommitted. People had also been allowed to write their names down on a Clinton or Obama sheet of paper and go. Not counting the people who signed up, we were 59 for Obama and 20 for Clinton. The uncommitted split 3 for Obama and 2 for Clinton. A few more stragglers added to the vote count later. It was about 7:40 now.

They were then going to pick delegates to the May Democratic convention in Alaska. I decided to go home. It was about 8pm.
And on the east end of town, a little chillier than when I'd gotten here. That's in Fahrenheit. It would be minus 21 C.

Despite the chaos, no one seemed at all upset. Everyone was excited. It was an event. I saw so many people with registration forms. You had to be a Democrat to participate. So people were either new voters, or switching from undeclared or Republican, or one of the other possible designations. Obama was clearly the source of lots of excitement, but there wasn't any animosity between the Obama and Clinton supporters that I saw.


  1. Fairbanks was packed too. I posted some video on my site.

  2. Hey, that's me, front & center in your first crowd photo!

  3. Do you know how long I waited for you to get into the picture? :)

  4. who would've thought there were that many democrats in alaska?? (I was one of the only people at my voting place yesterday, but then it was 6:45 in the morning.

  5. Thanks for the great photos! I tried to describe this for folks, but this is awesome, a picture being worth a thousand words, and all. And, yes, that is my daughter in the center of that photo - thanks for waiting for her. I never did see her and thought she may have made it all up. MFA in Creative Writing and all....

  6. The caucus for Maine is tomorrow. Clinton spoke on the UMaine campus this morning. We waited about an hour in the 9 degree weather. 1,800 people were allowed in and 200 were turned away.

    Then, Obama came in the afternoon to Bangor, ME. When we arrived an hour before the doors opened, the line of people waiting to get in stretched over a half mile at least. While we waited in line, streams and streams of people came behind us. They filled our big auditorium with 7,500 people. Another 2,500 people were turned away. The crowd was incredible. The speech was incredible.


    I suspect tomorrow will be crowded as well. I'm so glad to see people excited and participating.


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