With less than a month until the Nevada caucus, Washoe County Democrats are gearing up with mock caucuses to teach newcomers how it works. To demystify the process, our reporter Julia Ritchey attended one of these training sessions earlier this week.
About 50 people crowd into the Washoe County Democratic headquarters in Reno to learn how to caucus. But tonight, instead of pledging support for a candidate, they get to choose their preferred Muppet.
Volunteer: “Please go ahead and stand in the preference group of your choice…”
Volunteers hold up large poster boards in all four corners of the room, one for Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Kermit and an Uncommitted Sam the Eagle.
Disorder quickly sets in as attendees criss-cross the room trying to decide which Muppet best represents their values. Organizers encourage the groups to try and persuade people to defect and a few Fozzie supporters start making impassioned stump speeches.
“I like his stand on illegal bear populations — waka, waka, waka,” says one Fozzie supporter.
“He hasn’t taken any money from Goldman Sachs!” says another supporter.
Fifteen minutes pass and organizers call the group to order and begin to count each faction.
After the dust settles, it’s clear that each muppet has enough support to be a viable candidate who can be awarded delegates. But to figure out how many, a volunteer has to explain the formula.
“I’m multiplying the number of supporters in Fozzie’s group, which is 16; I’m multiplying by the number of delegates that we’re awarding in this precinct, which is eight, and then dividing by the number of attendees, which is 51, and we get 2.51 … and then we’re going to round up to three.”
Got that? After tallying up each group, Kermit and Fozzie are top with the most delegates.
In the real caucus next month, each group will select its delegates who will represent them at the county convention in April, and from there the state convention in May.