A small, working-class caucus in Fort Collins provides a fascinating snapshot of the state’s Republican prospects in November through the eyes of old and new partisans.Dixie Loucks has guided her fellow Republicans in Precinct 208 since 1968. She was enthusiastic about the 14 neighbors who turned out on a chilly winter evening to declare their presidential preferences. “We had more than normal,” she said. “About half of them were new.”
Her husband, Jack, opened the meeting with a prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance at the caucus, which was quickly followed by a plea to put a couple of bucks in a coffee can adorned with patriotic contact paper to help offset the cost of renting Putnam Elementary School’s cafeteria.
A mini American flag on a stick rested in the can — brought by one of the caucus-goers to add an air of importance to the historic event.
When it all shook out, 46 Republicans voted in three precincts on Fort Collins’ working-class northside. Mitt Romney got the big nod with exactly half the votes. John McCain garnered 28 percent for a distant second. Ron Paul’s 17 percent edged out 4 percent for Mike Huckabee. In Loucks’ precinct, two folks didn’t vote at all. She didn’t know why.
The results here are vaguely reminiscent of the statewide GOP totals.
Dana Grant held the fort for Precinct 206 and was totally new to the process. A Ron Paul supporter, Grant was decked out in a gray plaid suit with an enamel NASA pin on his lapel.
While Louck had more than 40 years of precinct captain experience on Grant, folks instinctively responded to the suit and approached him seeking information on how to participate in the caucus. Three people filtered in well after the 7 p.m. start time and joined their groups seated on the picnic bench-styled plastic cafeteria tables without incident.
Grant, a small-business owner and single dad to “the smartest kid in the history of the world,” said his biggest concern was that the Democrats would bankrupt the country if they were successful in expanding health care to 45 million Americans without insurance.
Grant’s group was the only precinct that admitted to having substantive conversations about the issues. He noted that folks were concerned about the economy, how long the United States will be in Iraq and what it meant to be a Republican.
One could attribute the latter navel-gazing discussion to Grant’s obvious excitement about democracy in action at the caucus or a cue from one of the many talking points included in the multi-bulleted Ron Paul literature resting on the table to assuage fellow Republicans who are distrustful of the Texas congressman’s “revolution.”
The Democratic caucus for the same neighborhood was held at Irish Elementary School several blocks northwest of Putnam. More than 400 people participated tonight with overwhelming support going to Barack Obama, which also mirrored statewide votes.