Whether you’re a young Republican who has decided to participate in your first caucus or you’re simply new to Colorado, there are a few things you should know about what’s going on this year. Namely, the state chose not to hold an official GOP presidential preference poll at all. Here’s what you should know.
A Simple Rule Change?
According to a change of rules that apply to the Republican party at the national level, state delegates going to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July would be forced to support whichever Republican candidate won the preference poll. This caused some disputes, particularly in how the rules would apply to bound delegates if their candidate dropped out of the race. That’s why Colorado chose to scrap the Republican poll this year – at least, officially. GOP leaders in the state wanted their delegates to be “free agents” who had the freedom to support whichever delegate they liked.
Reaching the Decision
Not everyone is happy about forfeiting the Republican caucus this year, but believe it or not, the decision did not cause mass chaos. According to party officials, the vote to scrap the poll was completely unanimous. This is nearly unprecedented, particularly when it is considered that the Colorado executive committee is made up of Tea Party liberals and establishment Republicans with their very conservative viewpoints.
Steve House, the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said that presidential caucuses are merely media events. He pointed out examples like Mitt Romney, who won the caucus in Colorado back in 2008, but did not get the nomination. He also said that Rick Santorum won the caucus in 2012 but did not receive the nomination. House says that the straw poll would have bound the state’s delegates, which “wasn’t sensible in an election year that we potentially will have a convention with multiple candidates on the first ballot.”
Why is a Caucus Important?
Although there hasn’t been any mass outrage in Colorado due to the decision to nix the straw poll, there are some folks who are upset. Caucuses, unlike primaries, are usually held in neighborhood town halls. It’s all about party-building, giving individuals the opportunity to learn more about or even meet their parties’ candidates, and even electing neighbors to fill positions of power in the party’s structure at the local level. Many people feel as if nixing the caucus may cause some people to feel less inclined to vote in the main election. Others, like Peg Cage, who is the Republican Party Chairman in the Boulder area, feels that avoiding the presidential poll may bring out more committed Republicans.
With all of this in mind, it is important to remember that the state of Colorado still gathered locally to hear speeches from the candidates or the candidates’ supporters, depending on where they live. However, they just didn’t take a vote because the GOP leaders don’t want their delegates bound to any one candidate.