Delegates have all the power in deciding which presidential candidates will move forward to the county conventions next month in Colorado. Although the media may have called the precinct caucuses an election, they are not, so don’t call up your county clerk and ask for an absentee ballot or ask where you go vote.First of all, only people registered as a Republican or Democrat as of Dec. 5, 2007, can participate in tonight’s caucuses. You have to physically show up at your caucus to voice your support for a presidential candidate. No proxies allowed.
An election does not take place. Instead, a poll of presidential preferences is conducted, and those results only determine how many delegates the presidential candidate will get. A candidate can have more supporters at the caucuses, but that does not always translate into more delegates.
It is the number of delegates that will determine which candidate will eventually win their party’s nomination. If you are unaffiliated voter, or if you are registered as a Republican or Democrat but you don’t go to your caucus, you really have no other input in Colorado’s candidate selection process until primary day Aug. 12.
Consider the Democratic caucus results from Nevada: Sen. Hillary Clinton had more supporters at the caucuses, but Sen. Barack Obama acquired more delegates. Out of 25 delegates in the state, Clinton got 12, Obama 13. Hence, Obama actually won Nevada.
A similar scenario can happen tonight in Colorado for both Republican and Democratic candidates. Don’t be misled by the caucus support numbers; when the dust clears, it’s going to be all about delegates.