MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – At about 7 p.m. Tuesday, some 60,000 people are expected to arrive at their precinct caucuses and spend the next three hours debating, then voting on their Presidential choices.

In 2010, more than two million people in this state voted in the general election. Is a caucus really democratic? What if you have to work, have an infant, a cold or a car problem? What if you don’t have a babysitter, an errand that has to be done or your power goes off?

Life happens at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Most people simply don’t have the time or resources to make it to caucuses. So why does Minnesota, which consistently has the highest voter turnout in the nation have a caucus, not a primary?

Well according to Professor Steven Schier of Carleton College, it’s because party leaders like it that way. The 60,000 that will turn out on Tuesday are the ones whose email addresses and phone number can be taken down. They are the ones who can be counted on to door knock, lit drop and make phone calls.

And so the parties nail down their hard core supporters, but what about the rest of the voters who want their voices heard, but are not hard core enough or able to spend three hours on a Tuesday debating Presidential politics?

They are all left behind, their voices unheard in this critical election year. That is something Minnesota, as a state, needs to question.

Esme Murphy

Comments (12)
  1. Frozenrunner says:

    The caucuses like a winner take all primary ensures the minority keeps control.. This is true for both parties. Take for example the Ron Paul supporters. They will do well at a few precinct caucuses only to be shoved out at the district level. Those not shoved out at the district level would be shoved out at the state level. The party, not a representative sample of the people will be sent to the national convention.

  2. slackers says:

    Either you care enough to go to Caucus or you don’t. Simple as that. If you want your voice heard, go. Otherwise stay at home and watch more mindless TV. The world is what we make it.

  3. Ladybug says:

    Those not willing to take some time for the process to discuss, debate and choose the nominee shouldn’t vote IMO. Many vote based on such little or no information. We need informed voters no matter the party.

  4. gtV says:

    From the first time, many years ago, I got to vote I took my right to vote seriously when I cast my ballot. I could never understand, when I came to Minnesota, why there was a caucus system in place of a primary?

    For all the caucuses I did attend, I really didn’t find out much about the candidates I was interested in but I certainly found out about all the minuscule inane special interests/issues being attached to candidates that had no immediate relevance to the nominating task at hand.task.

    Minnesota political conventions seemed to be a joke at times because party endorsements were meaningless when every other wannabe candidate still ran in the general elections.

    Political independence is fine but when candidates vie for the same position from the same party with ‘minor’ fractional/factional differences or idiosyncrasies then what good is the caucus system? Enlightened this beleaguered voter!

    Primaries are a chance for voters to declare their preferences and winnow out the political chaff candidates from the real deal candidates. [Ideally] Primaries also streamline the general election process by forcing the political parties and independents to stay on contextual point so voters can intelligently vote for the candidate who will get the job done. In a Presidential election year, the primary process makes the major candidates come to this state and state their views. Primaries carry a lot more political weight on the national political level because “real” “Vox Populi” votes carry political weight. {Look at recent history and news regarding this point.}

    At present, Minnesota is in a state of political turmoil and gridlock. Not only in St.Paul but on politics and major issues in general. A primary election election is a way for the people, the voters, to start straightening things out and get the road to political certainties back on track.

    Hopefully, Minnesota will eventually seem the political light of the 21st Century to have real voter primaries. Otherwise, the proverbial political Stone Age will continue for Minnesota politics.

  5. I left the US. says:

    Ron Paul is America’s last hope. It would be the one reason I would consider coming back to America (if he were elected President). End the Fed.

    1. gtV says:

      @Left the country
      You sure you have the correct thread to comment on? The subject is primaries vs. caucuses in Minnesota! –not Ron Paul! In fact, if your moniker stands true then you are a wet-noodle ex-patriot for leaving the country &/or state.

      Sorry, chum, but true Minnesotans and Americans stand up for what they believe and try to improve the quality of life we have come to enjoy. Our way of life takes work to be better. Yes, we have our political and economic ups-&-downs but we as Americans find ways to come together when the going gets rough. Unfortunately, at present, that coming together is a bit rough to do but we will come together soon I hope.

      Now back to the discussion here–caucuses vs electoral primaries. What are your views without the political endorsements??………..

      Let’s hear it!

    2. Orrest says:

      I think you did not leave the US> What country gave you a better standard of living?

  6. KLS says:

    I have voted in every election since I turned 21 (as you can tell by this I am over 60). I have never attended a caucus and never will, I am not a lemming.

  7. Tony Rozycki says:

    Good timely blog! I also voted every Presidential election since turning 21 & attended about 8 caucuses, but agree with Esme, Professor Schier, GTV & Frozenrunner we need a State primary before the big elections for exactly the reasons they provide. Think we probably also need caucuses to maintain some party structure. Caucuses are one good source of face-to-face info albeit often incomplete, subjective and one-sided.

    1. gtV says:

      @Tony & KLS
      Great to see I am not alone about how I feel about MN caucuses. The primaries provide a more precise view of who the people favor for offices. They make the candidates work harder to garner the votes they need etcetera.

  8. Curmudgeon Geographer says:

    A better question, when did we exactly get rid of primaries? We used to have both caucuses and primaries. I gave up on participating in either of them, I would have preferred primaries, but when exactly did we stop having them?

  9. Tony Rozycki says:

    Good question Curmudgeon. Suzie Jones, Hy Berman & a professor answered your question on WCCO radio a few days ago. All I remember is that MN has had primaries 2 or 3 periods of several years in our history. No reason we couldn’t start again. Regarding last night’s GOP caucus results am wondering how we insure people don’t “sabotage” the “other” party by voting for who they perceive as a “weaker” candidate. Do you have to be “registered” in a party to vote in the caucus? If you’re an independent can you be registered in more than one party? Can you switch back and forth based on your belief as to who has the best candidate? Why not? Primaries might solve those problems & questions. Live & learn, always room for improvement, sometimes history repeats itself, trust & verify!

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