The streets of Mankato were empty at eight o'clock last night, save for Hoffman Road. More specifically, the traffic was concentrated around Mankato East High School. This was the site for the Democratic and Republican caucuses on super Tuesday. The Mankato Free Press stated that Dems could show up at 6:30pm to sign in and vote. If you wanted to stay for the sub-caucus, you'd be able to do so.
I had to run some errands yesterday, so I tried to time my trip to Target accordingly with the start of the caucus. The problem lies in the fact that I have anxiety issues brought on by the fear of being late to specified places. So by the time I was finished shopping, it was 5:30pm--a full hour before the start of the caucus. I decided to go to Barnes & Noble (where I picked up a hardcover copy of T.C. Boyle's Tooth and Claw for $5.98!) and waste some time there. I left the store at six thinking it was later. I also developed quite the headache while shopping (I'm kind of a "lets-get-in, lets-get-out" shopper).
I refused to go home for two reasons: 1. I didn't want to risk getting caught in some sort of freak Mankato traffic jam on Madison because I knew that if there ever would be a time for one, it would be at that moment; and 2. I was too close to the high school to go home, then turn around and come back. Passing the high school on my way to Happy Joe's for Aspirin, I noticed a small collection of cars turning into the parking lots. Nothing too alarming. I wasn't at the gas station for more than a few minutes, and I was able to get out of there pretty easily. When I got back to the high school, the parking lots and the traffic had gotten considerably worse. People were inventing their own parking spots, blocking exits in the process.
I didn't enter the school until a few minutes before 6:30, and I wasn't able to find out which precinct I belonged to until ten-to-seven. One map for one hundred people--no good. The DFL wasn't as prepared as I assumed they would be (considering they were expecting a record turnout). There wasn't enough room in the HomeEc class designated for my precinct to hold everyone that showed up. Our precinct representative didn't exist, either. We were told that a rep would show up with a large, brown envelope that contained the sign-in sheet and ballots. At a quarter-to-eight, a woman with a large, white envelope showed up and told us that we needed to choose a representative. An undergrad with whom I had a class last semester volunteered and got right down to business. Great job, John! That business consisted of printing our names and addresses on a blank piece of copier paper (there was only one official sign-in sheet, and that filled up quickly), then scrawling a candidate's name on a separate square of paper that we stuffed into an envelope that John held up.
By the time I left that room, it was nearly eight o'clock, and I could see other precincts had already begun the sub-caucus portion of their meetings. The parking lot was a free for all. As I mentioned earlier, the exits were blocked by parked cars. Someone decided to drive over the sidewalk to leave the green lot, and the rest of the cars soon followed. It wasn't too bad, though--getting out of the Rosemont Horizon parking lot is a thousand times worse. And it was great to see the huge turnout--there were still people filing in when I was leaving. The best part, Obama took the state 67% to 32% (82% reporting)!
Anyone see his stump speech late last night, or his address at American University when Ted and Caroline Kennedy gave their official endorsements to him? Obama could read from the phone book and people would flip out. He's a rock star.