History, politics, people of Oly WA

Ideas on how we can improve, “not ditch,” the caucus system

Andrew over at NPI blog writes a post about I guess improving the precinct caucus system, but spends the entire time defending them against folks that like the primary. Good for him, but I would really have liked to hear some ideas on improvement.


Because it’s been a demoralizing few months leading up to the precinct caucuses.

Anyway, I’ll start a list. Feel free to join in when you’re ready.

1. Hold caucuses more often. Why do we only force folks to attend a precinct caucus when we want them to choose a presidential nominee? If all that hooey about getting out of the house, meeting your neighbors and freedom of association was not a big lie, then we should hold caucuses to nominate every Democratic candidate, from governor down to state legislator and county commissioner. Not dog catcher, because we don’t elect dog catchers in this state.

Pros: Like I said, we would actually do what we mean when we defend the caucuses.

Cons: If you thought it was hard to pull off the presidential cycle caucuses, what makes you think we can do this all the time? Then again, fewer people will turn out for non-interesting caucuses.

This stuff costs money too, and the primaries the state pays for.

And, can’t we just have it both ways? Private political organization when it suits our needs and public, primary based party when we don’t have the money?

2. Hold them in separate rooms. One of the major complaints that I keep on running into following the caucuses was that people couldn’t hear what was going on because there were more than one being held in one room.

That was reality because a) we couldn’t book classrooms because of student privacy issues and b) we didn’t expect 10 percent of the voters to show up. More like 6 percent or something.

But, we as Dems should make a list of all the publically available small rooms in the entire state that are ADA accessible, just so people can have quiet civic conversations.

And, that’s it. I don’t have any more ideas.


  1. CitizenSteve

    FYI – We Washington Democrats hold precinct caucuses every two years.

    Maybe you should go to a caucus before you condemn them… next time, skip the lame excuses, find a high school kid or a Green Party member to babysit and go meet some of those noisy Democrats.

  2. Emmett

    I’m sorry Steve, I have a lot of respect for you, but are you serious?

    I think I have pretty good caucus bonafides. I’ve attended the last four (every two years) and led my last caucus as a PCO and helped coordinate my (crazy as hell) site at the Knox building in Olympia.

    To be blunt, your characterization of “lame excuses” displays an attitude that makes me understand why some people stay disengaged. Engaged people can be so freaking superior sometimes.

  3. CitizenSteve


    I blew my stack and I’m sorry. (blame it on my body-ache & fever)

    I know you are involved and dedicated.

    In the past couple of weeks, I’ve just heard too many complaints about how caucuses are too much trouble or too long and/or too boring without positive suggestions on how to improve the process and it’s making me crazy.

    It seems that giving up on caucusing and going to a primary doesn’t really solve the problem either. I’ve lost count of how many complaints I’ve heard because folks are asked to declare a party on the primary ballot.

    It feels like we just can’t win.

  4. Emmett

    I’m sorry if you felt my post was just more complaints. Granted, I could have tried to put a more positive spin on my suggestions, but I really put them out there as honest and positive suggestions. And, to try to get more folks suggesting improvements.

    I really do think holding them more often and for every nomination the party needs to make will improve the process. It will get people more used to meeting with other Democrats, and if we do it right, will keep people involved.

    What other suggestions are out there?

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