Caucusing in Kansas: Aussie Football to Iowa’s Croquet

Last night, I was swept up in a sea of change in the most unlikely of places. Suburban Johnson County, a diehard, Republican area where Democrats rarely fare well. But last night, something amazing happened. We caucused.

I was up in Iowa and attended a caucus there. Yesterday, I caucused in Kansas, and the contrast between the two couldn’t have been greater.

One was lightly attended, full of mostly white, suburbanites, with an Obama precinct team of about 5 people, and ended in less than an hour.

The other was hectic, with long lines, horrendous overcrowding, lengthy waits, and diverse, multi-ethnic crowd, and over 20 Obama volunteers.

More on the flip.

The former is Iowa, the latter, Kansas.

Oh yeah, did I mention a major snowstorm hit Kansas yesterday?

Ice, long lines couldn’t keep voters away

Barack Obama’s landslide win in the Kansas caucuses also showed how his message of hope and change resonates with many voters longing to move beyond the partisan politics that have divided this country.

Some voters stood in line in the ice and snow for an hour just to get in to caucus sites. And once they got in, there wasn’t enough room for all of

Yet the long waits and crowded conditions didn’t dampen spirits.

Here’s the crowd at my caucus, District 11 in Johnson County, Kansas, a bastion of Republicanism.

Oops, forgot about the overflow room.

Yep. Over 1,600 people, ridiculously long sign in lines. Over 200 Republicans switching to caucus for Barack Obama, hundreds of independents. And, by my projection, 99% first-time caucus goers.

Turnout last time was 3,000. IN THE ENTIRE STATE.

Dem caucus turnout exceeds expectations

More than 37,000 people struggled through winter weather Tuesday night to participate in the Democratic Party’s presidential caucus.

Party Chairman Larry Gates said turnout at 50 caucus sits across the state surpassed his expectations. More than half the sites in Kansas had more than 500 people attend the caucus event.

Turnout was up over 1000%.

The final count at my caucus?

Over 1,200 for Barack Obama. We had only ID’ed showed 650.

440 for Hillary Clinton. Quite impressive, actually.

10 delegates for Barack, 4 for Hillary.

That’s what I call a blowout. But there was one thing that I kept hearing over and over again, in a county that Republicans dominate, in one of the most convservative regions in America.

Chuck Pauler, who likes both candidates but voted for Obama, joked that he “didn’t know there were so many Democrats in Kansas.”

This morning, I recieved this message from my friend, who’s mom is an uber-conservative. She said this.

I don’t care for McCain at all. I’d probably vote for Obama over him. and over Hillary. I just don’t like her.

Only one candidate can win Kansas this fall. Only one candidate can win Idaho. Only one candidate can win North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and numerous other “red” states that are just as frustrated with Republicans as the rest of us. I got into a conversation with one lifelong Conservative Independent, who admitted that his party had ruined America. He was caucusing for Barack, but he hated the Democratic party, and was going to switch his registration back to a Independent immediately upon returning. He would never vote for Hillary.

Only Barack Obama can unite America, but only with our help. Yes We Can. Yesterday proved it.

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