Neil Modie (Seattle P-I):
The 244,458 people who showed up for Democratic Party presidential-nominating caucuses in Washington last Saturday may have set a national record for attendance at any of the party's 18 state caucuses. Howie P.S.
It certainly smashed this state's Democratic attendance record, set in 2004 when about 100,000 people attended.
And Democratic caucusgoers are thought to have greatly outnumbered their Republican counterparts although the state GOP hasn't counted how many attendees it had and won't have a number for another week, party spokesman Patrick Bell said.
The Democratic turnout "certainly makes me feel better about being exhausted" after the work that went into organizing the event, Jaxon Ravens, the state party's executive director, said Friday.
Luis Miranda, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said he couldn't say for certain that the Washington caucuses made national attendance history, but "this is the largest caucus to date in a year that has seen record turnouts in caucuses around the country."
The next-largest Democratic caucus turnouts this year were the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, for which a state-record 239,000 people showed up, and Minnesota's caucuses, which drew 212,079.
"We've done some research, and we haven't been able to find a caucus in the history of this country that has been as large as this state's last Saturday," Washington State Democratic Party spokesman Kelly Steele said.
Much of the turnout stemmed from large numbers of political newcomers drawn to the caucuses to support Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whomWashington caucusgoers favored over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton by a more than 2-1 ratio. Obama has generally fared better in caucus states and Clinton in primary states.
Given how much more populous Texas is than Washington, the Lone Star State's March 4 caucuses could draw more people -- except that Texas isn't a pure caucus state because it allocates some of its delegates through caucuses and others through a primary, both on the same date. And only primary voters may attend caucuses.
Washington Democrats allocate all of their nominating-convention delegates through caucuses while the state Republican Party allocates about half of its delegates through caucuses and the other half through Tuesday's presidential primary.
As heavy as the turnout for the caucuses was, participation in the primary is expected to be much larger.
: Be sure to vote by mail or in person on Tuesday for your favorite candidate in the "beauty contest" Democratic primary that doesn't count as far as delegates to Denver, but the results will get press coverage, anyway.Barack Obama
Labels: washington state presidential primary