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How Do Wyoming Caucuses Work?


The Wyoming Republican Party is holding its caucus on Saturday 5 January 2008. Presidential election primaries and caucuses are two different methods that political parties use to let party members (voters) select the presidential nominee. Voters do so by selecting delegates to the party's national convention. Only 13 states still use the caucus method for selecting convention delegates.

2008 Results

From the Wyoming Republican Party, here is a GoogleDocs spreadsheet of the winners:
  • Mitt Romney - 8 delegates
  • Fred Thompson - 3 delegates
  • Duncan Hunter - 1 delegate
Two delegates will be decided at the state convention in May.

What Are Caucuses?

A caucus is the lowest level meeting of members of a political party where members discuss issues and select precinct representatives. During President election years, members also select delegates to attend the party convention. Caucuses are considered grassroots events because they are held at the precinct level; venues may be school gymnasiums or someone's living room. Wyoming has about 23 counties holding caucuses.

Who Participates?

Only Republicans are caucusing on Saturday 5 January in Wyoming. Any registered voter can participate in a caucus. Parties require that voters re-register as a party member; a voter can attend only one party's caucus.

Republicans separate candidate preference from convention delegate selection. After everyone has had a say, attendees vote in a straw poll (paper ballot, counted by hand) to determine the winner. The attendees then select delegates, who do not have to declare which candidate they support.

Because Wyoming does not have a large population, candidates have not spent a lot of time here. Only Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter have visited since September.

What Happens At A Caucus Meeting?

Caucus meetings are personal -- no voting machines here. The precinct chair will convene the meeting; those attending discuss the various candidates who are seeking the nomination. They may also discuss party platform issues. After everyone has had their say, there's a vote, which is usually public (viva-voce); however, Republicans are using ballots.

What Happens Next?

The press reports a "winner" based upon the percentage of delegates won by each candidate. History suggests that how well candidates meet or exceed expectations may be as crucial as an actual "win."

For Republicans, Wyoming is not winner-take-all. However, Wyoming is being penalized by the GOP for holding its caucuses early and will lose half of its delegates (total 14 instead of 28) to the national convention.

How Did Wyoming Vote In Past Elections?

  • 2004 : Bush (R) 68.86%% ; Kerry (D) 29.07%
  • 2000 : Bush (R) 67.76% ; Gore (D) 27.70% ; Nader (I) 2.12%
  • 1996 : Clinton (D) 36.84% ; Dole (R) 49.81% ; Perot (I) 12.25%
  • 1992 : Bush (R) 39.70% ; Clinton (D) 34.10% ; Perot (I) 25.65%
  • 1988 : Bush (R) 60.53% ; Dukakis (D) 38.01%
  • 1984 : Mondale (D) 28.24% ; Reagan (R) 70.51%
  • 1980 : Carter (D) 27.97% ; Reagan (R) 62.64% ; Anderson (I) 6.83%
  • 1976 : Carter (D) 39.81% ; Ford (R) 59.30%
Source: US Election Atlas

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