Nevada caucus numbers exceed expectations

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal

If one catchphrase could best exemplify Nevada's Caucus Day '08 " it wouldn't be a slogan that belongs to a particular candidate.

Instead, the most uttered words of the day were "controlled chaos."

From the block-and-a-half line of people that stretched around the Carson City Senior Citizens Center that greeted Carson's Republicans in the sunny 20-degree morning, to the handful of "undecided" Democrats who refused to align with front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the waning moments of precinct 409's caucus at the Carson Indian Colony Gym " expectations were exceeded on one solitary front: sheer numbers.

"I know it's a little chaotic here," said Joe DiLonardo, a volunteer for the Nevada Republican Party. "We had a little trouble getting people in here because the turnout was far, far greater than we expected.

"Even with the publicity we expected 300 to 400. We got at least 1,500. Amazing. We were going to have it at the Governor's Mansion " that really wouldn't have worked."

Because of the unexpected infusion of caucus-goers, some of whom waited in line for nearly two hours before entering the center to vote " the Republicans all but abandoned the caucus system, which candidates are chosen by precinct letting people "affiliate" with a certain candidate and by process of elimination and allowing voters to "re-align" eventually determining a winner.

"We've got such a rush, we're letting people sign in and vote," said Republican volunteer Lona White.

The Democrats, spread throughout Carson City in several precinct groups, including multiple groups at Carson High School and Western Nevada College, had some growing pains of their own, mostly dealing with people voting in the caucus system for the first time.

"I think the system works," said Nevada State Democratic Party volunteer Peter Hansell, who reported that Obama had narrowly edged out Hillary in precinct 409.

"The best news, for us, is that we've got just over 300 Democrats registered in this precinct " 195 showed up today.

"(Whomever) you're for, that's a positive number."

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