This officially closes out my first real Iowa Caucus experience. All in all, I went to speeches and forums and happy-hour events, all in an effort to engage in the process.
I was thinking this morning about how this entire process progressed. At one point or another, I considered nearly every candidate. I deeply vetted Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Chris Christie. Of course, I ended up endorsing Christie knowing full-well his chances of anything more than a few percent here in Iowa were slim.
Last night, I caucused in West Des Moines where county leaders had planned for between 500–600 voters. The final tally was north of 1,100. I assisted in helping voters get into the correct lines and then running to the copier to print up extra ballots. And there was the case of the lost boy who I helped babysit while we waited for his father.
While I did that, my husband was at the Democrat caucus. We make that work. It’s actually fun as we challenge each other, which in the end makes us stronger and more informed voters.
One thing I learned through this Iowa Caucus experience is to expect the unexpected. Double case-in-point: Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump both spoke on their own behalf at my precinct caucus.
After all the votes were finally cast, somewhere around 8:30 p.m., we went to the back room to begin counting. It feels old to be hand-counting ballots, but it was an amazing experience to visualize those 1,100 people casting their ballots and us counting them.
As we separated each ballot into piles, it became clear to me what was happening all around the state: Marco Rubio had been the one to become the surge candidate of the “establishment.” We added up all the numbers, reported them to the crowd, and began the work of the party.
Knowing you’re voting for a “loser” is never fun. But I left knowing that I had voted for someone I believed in. I researched all the candidates and I questioned them. I made sure I could go to sleep last night knowing in my heart that I had voted for someone who I believed in — not someone who could merely win in November.
Now the candidates are off for New Hampshire or back home to their private lives.
It’s funny. Recounting our experiences last night, I said to my husband that I was disappointed that Martin O’Malley didn’t get more support. His positions are quite interesting and I don’t disagree with him as much as one might expect.
So, here we are. It has been an incredible experience sharing my own experience as a first-time caucus-goer with the readers of “Our Caucus.” And for those who question why Iowa is first, let me leave you with this thought. In 2012, 120,000 Republicans turned out to caucus. Last night, 180,000 Republicans came out. We are committed to this process. We dedicate hours to coffee-talks, packed gyms, and talking to our neighbors. We don’t always pick the final winners but we sure do make them fight for each and every vote.