What a chaotic, insane, amazing, historic night!
I could go through a whole list of "lessons learned" to pass on to the Democratic organizers but I have nothing but empathy for them. I suspect that a good chunk of the folks who showed up tonight were like me - Undeclared voters who decided to become Democrats. There's no way they could have known that was coming!
According to the Anchorage Daily News, somewhere between 3,700 and 4,700 folks showed up at the Begich School. At the 2004 caucus, there were 250.
OK, so even though there were good reasons for such craziness, maybe I will say a couple of things:
- Next time, each volunteer should have a clipboard with the district map on it. Try cramming 2000+ people in front of one district map on the wall with teeny, tiny writing!!! Also, one person should have been at the main map answering folks when they wanted to know which District they are in. I was pretty dang sure that most of the folks perma-camped in front of the map didn't know how to read one.
- Give each volunteer a brightly-colored t-shirt so we can tell who they are. I can't count how many folks I asked questions of who looked at me like I was crazy.
- Don't allow people on a microphone who don't know how to use a microphone. I believe that's enough said there.
- Choose organizers who have experience with large events - they would be prepared
to smoothly make changes on the fly in case of such a huge turn-out.
- Rent more walkie-talkies!
District 23 could have used the assistance of some experienced Kindergarten teachers to get us all in proper lines and clearly direct us where to go. We could have used a few bean counters to do the count more methodically. Although I think part of the reason the count took so long was because some of the folks didn't believe that there were 392 folks in the room!
Once we started "fanning out" it was pretty clear that it would be an Obama blow-out!
District 23 count:
Obama - 10 state delegates
Clinton - 3 state delegates
Obama - 75%
Clinton - 25%
Again, according to ADN
", more than 8600 Democrats showed up statewide. Interestingly enough, the Republicans stated they had a "blow-out" night too - about 9000 showed up for their Caucuses.
Let's compare blow-outs...
Alaska's registered voter breakdown is 15% Democrat, 25% Republican and 50-something-percent Undeclared. Yet, Democrats produced close to the same number of Caucus-goers statewide as the Republicans.
I'd say that bodes well for the National election.
All in all, it was worth participating in such a history-making event. The shoulder-to-navel crowd reminded me of fighting to the front at concerts when I was in High School. (I won't admit which band, but they did regularly appear in "Tiger Beat." The difference now is that it involves squeezing through a small gap in the crowd along with several other ladies of my age, size and physique. In preparation for such an...ahhh...intimate encounter, I apologized to the ladies in advance by saying, "I'm sorry that you are about to get to know me better than you EVER wanted to!"
My 10-year-old was a trooper. She was enthusiastic about the process before the 1 1/2hour car ride from Lake Otis and Nothern Lights to the Begich School on Debarr. However, she got a little teary at one point because of the constant claustrophobia associated with such a huge crowd. (she was horrified when she was pressed up so close to someone she could feel their cell phone vibrate!) That plus the long hours, the problems with parking, the walk in the cold and everything we had to go to just to be counted as an Obama supporter overwhelmed her. Still, she helped me constantly...especially with her impeccable sense of direction (is that something we lose when we get older?).
In the end, I don't think she'll ever forget how important it was to me. I hope some day it's just as important to her.