caucus game theory

I was re-reading Chris Vance's useful primer on the caucus system in Washington State this morning. I'm still trying to figure out whether this is worth my time or not, other than as a somewhat morbid exercise in  political geekery.

What happens on March 3 is completely non-binding. In fact, it is two (possibly three) whole steps removed from the actual selection of pledged delegates to the Republican National Convention. WA has 43 delegates, of whom only 3 are automatic (the state chair and the two members of the RNC from here.) Delegates from each of the 10 congressional districts will elect 3 national delegates, and the other 10 will be elected at large by the delegates to the state convention. It is only at this stage that anyone is "pledged" to a particular presidential candidate.

The delegates to the state convention are elected by county conventions. In King County, there is an additional set of caucuses at the level of state legislative districts, plus the county convention. (Still with me?) These delegates are elected at the precinct caucuses on March 3. Each precinct selects 2 or 3 people from the precinct to represent them at the next level.

Here's the thing. I've looked up the geographical boundaries of my precinct. It consists of four city blocks. There is exactly one single-family home. (There were three until recently, but two were torn down and apartments are under construction.) It's probably about 60/40 owners and renters. The building next door rents studios to people by and large in their early 20s, for around $900/month. Most of the other buildings are nicer. Condo units in the best building probably go for around $600-800K. I'd bet the average condo price in these blocks is hovering around $350K. So, pretty affluent, but the kind of affluent that lives in multi-family homes, in the gayest neighborhood in probably the second or third most liberal city in the country (as always, it's a dead heat between us and Portland.)

Not Republicans, is what I'm saying.

There is a not-trivial possibility that if I show up for this thing, I may be the only person from my precinct. At most, I would be one of a half-dozen or so. I could very well end up a delegate to the next stage, and possibly even the state convention, if I were so inclined. (Clearly the King County GOP expects a tiny turnout in Seattle; all of the Capitol Hill Precincts have been consolidated to a single meeting place, a high school clear across town.)

Long-time listeners of This American Life may recognize this story, because this is exactly what Dan Savage did in 1996. (He lives a few blocks over.)

Honestly, I really don't think I have the stomach or the time for this. My Saturdays are precious to me (at least, the ones where I manage to not be working, which is roughly 1 in 3.) And if I'm being really honest, I don't actually give a shit who the Republicans nominate, as long as it isn't Rick Santorum. Contra Paul Constant, I'm not willing to risk him actually being the party's candidate, even though I think an extreme social conservative with a neocon hard-on that makes GW Bush look like Robert Taft losing a presidential election in a landslide would be the best thing to happen to the Republican Party in 50 years.

Hell, maybe I'll make that my campaign speech, and see what happens.


Gino said...

do it. i would. just for the experience to talk about.
and its lend cred. when you start bashing, you can say... yeah, well at least i blah blah blah...

Mr. D said...

I agree with Gino -- you'll get a really good story or two outta the deal. This much is certain.

Brian said...


I am such a sucker for putting myself in situations that will make a good story...