Ever since Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman reported that Colorado GOP Chair Ryan Call was considering moving the precinct caucuses up to February, we've received a wide range of reader feedback on the move that is still under consideration. There are good arguments both for and against such a move and we thought we'd lay them out for our readers to review and make their own decision.
PRO: The clearest reason to move the precinct caucus from its currently scheduled date of March 6 to February 7 is that it will likely make Colorado and GOP voters a much bigger force in the Presidential primary. States with electoral contests late in the calendar typically get no attention from primary candidates.
Attention means not only do Colorado Republicans get their voice amplified in the deciding the nominee, but that primary campaigns set up shop in the state and actively organize supporters. It's also a boost to the economy as campaigns rent office space, run TV and radio ads, and hire staff.
Were Colorado not to matter in the primary, the nominee's campaign would have only months to build an infrastructure that the Obama campaign is already currently constructing in Colorado.
If the precinct caucuses mattered more to the primary process it would significantly boost turnout at the caucuses, which is the only day when such a large amount of active and non-active GOPers show up and discuss organizing. Caucus day is important because that is when the Party signs up the volunteers that help organize and implement the ground game at the precinct and county level.
With no other statewide race, save for Regent, the Colorado precinct caucuses could use the energy and turnout boost.
CON: The promise of making a difference in the selection of a nominee is not guaranteed. Mitt Romney swept the caucus vote in 2008, after it was moved to Super Tuesday in February, and then dropped out a few days later. If that were to happen again it could further frustrate low-propensity caucus attendees who saw their straw poll vote rendered meaningless in 2008.
Early precinct caucuses could also severely hamper state House and Senate candidates who might have to wait until as late as December 2011 to find out what districts they live in. As state legislative candidates must live in the districts they seek to represent, most won't be able to kick start their campaigns until late in the cycle. Democrats so far haven't seemed to care, they just want taxpayer funded gigs, but the reapportionment aspect has held back most GOP candidates from beginning their campaigns.
Another challenge to moving to February is it would force county assemblies and the state convention to be pushed up as well. As the assemblies and state convention have to be held within a timeframe that is tied to the caucuses, moving the caucuses means moving the assemblies and convention too. Some County Chairs have expressed frustration that they've already begun working on planning the details of their assemblies based on the current March dates, even renting locations, and a change of date could complicate their efforts.
Colorado Republicans also have a long and illustrious past of letting primaries eat the party from inside out. While primaries help campaigns get their organizations up to speed, they also engender hurt feelings and grudges that historically have not gone away in the general election. If there wasn't a pivotal election for the primary in Colorado, the tensions between supporters of various primary candidates might not get as bad.
As you can see there are strong arguments on both sides of the issue. We don't envy Chairman Call's position of having to decide this issue, but we're glad it's an issue we're debating.
Email us at [email protected] and let us know your thoughts on the issue.
(Photo via: Loveland Politics)