Democracy In Action?

We attended our precinct caucus tonight to vote in the straw presidential poll. Tomorrow morning’s newspapers will be full of coverage of today’s primary in Missouri and caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota. I don’t know about Colorado and Missouri, but any weight placed on tonight’s straw poll in Minnesota will be misplaced.

No delegates are being selected, and very few Minnesotans are willing to devote an evening to participating in a straw poll and rubber-stamping elections to the next level of the partisan system, the BPOU. My precinct was allotted ten delegates to the BPOU, but could only muster eight volunteers. I suspect that is pretty typical. Here are the straw poll results so far, with between 7 and 8 percent of the precincts reporting:

So tomorrow’s news reports will say it was a big win for Rick Santorum. The numbers, however, are so low as to be laughable: if the vote-per-precinct ratio holds up, a total of 65,000 people will have participated in the GOP caucuses. This compares with 1,275,409 Minnesotans who voted for John McCain in 2008, so something like 5% of Minnesota’s Republican voters participated tonight. That is hardly enough to give Santorum a ringing mandate, but, on the other hand, that’s how democracy works. You have to show up.