A night at the caucus

By Conor Kelly

Loras students and Dubuque residents marched into the Ballroom last week for Caucus Night. With an invigorated spirit, moderates and progressives argued about policy, the Democratic platform, and electability in the coming general election. During the first round, caucus-goers would provide their first choice on a paper ballot, and only if they switched after the second alignment would they provide their second choice. Under this year’s rules, Democratic candidates had to reach 15 percent of the caucus-goers in the room to maintain viability. If a candidate failed to get the 15 percent requirement, their supporters could be persuaded by other caucus-goers to join them and regain viability for a different candidate in the second round. Meanwhile, viable caucus commits, now bound to their candidates, worked ferociously to convince others to join them, hoping to build off their support in the hope of gaining delegates. The precinct chair reported that at the time of the caucus on campus, 228 people showed up to support their candidates.

Though some had caucused for the first time, more experienced caucus-goers such as senior Jacob Jansen, a precinct-captain and supporter of Bernie Sanders, described Loras’ caucus operation with optimism, noting the smooth and efficient work. When initially asked about the caucus and his feelings on it, Jansen admitted that he had initial misgivings.

“Overall, I thought it ran very smoothly, and I had low expectations that it would just from previous experiences in 2016 and based off what others had told me about other larger precincts. I thought it got done quickly, and I thought that there was not a lot of hostility.” Jansen and others were surprised to find a rather amicable atmosphere despite the tensions of standard political discussion, something that relieved many.

By the end of the first alignment, it was clear Senator Amy Klobuchar, Former-Vice President Joe Biden, and Entrepreneur Andrew Yang were not going to be viable. The Warren, Bernie, and Buttigieg campaigns all enthusiastically swarmed the newly undecided caucus-goers, trying to persuade the intrigued voters to join them. Yang’s supporters, unable to regain viability, primarily went to Bernie, but some went with Warren, Pete, and Biden. Though a few Yang supporters refused to move. By the end of the night, Biden had recovered viability, whereas Klobuchar and Yang had not. With the final count, Bernie took the lead as the front runner for the Loras caucus, receiving three of the precinct’s delegates, compared to Warren and Buttigieg’s two delegates, along with Biden’s single delegate.

Whatever one’s opinion of the political implications of Iowa’s current caucus state-wide, one thing is for certain: the Loras Democratic caucus ended relatively smoothly and left a new mark on those who partook in it.

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Conor J. Kelly was the Opinion Editor for the Lorian and a prolific staff writer. He graduated from Loras College in April of 2021 and is now pursuing his master's in political science at the University of Illinois, Springfield. You can find his new work on The Progressive American newsletter.

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