Puerto Rico Switches From A Caucus To A Primary
by Todd Beeton, Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 07:45:35 PM EST
msn1 in Breaking Blue brings word that Puerto Rico has changed its contest, the last (as of now, anyway) of the 2008 Democratic primary season, from a caucus to a primary and, to conform with DNC rules, is moving from June 7 to June 1.
2008 Democratic Convention Watch has an e-mail from Kenneth D. McClintock, DNC member from Puerto Rico:
[Puerto Rico will] change the voting process from 8 caucuses to a primary with voting places in all 1,800+ barrios in Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities. This is done in light of the hundreds of thousands of Democrats expected to turn out on June 1, a late date in which we would have originally expected a pro-forma vote with low turnout. [...]
The change was approved unanimously by all members present, including many Clinton supporters (such as State Chair Prats and myself) and many Obama supporters.
The rationale? There's no way we could handle more than a few tens of thousands of voters in eight district caucuses, while we can handle a million voters (at least 500 voters between 8am and 3 pm per polling place in each of 1,800+ barrios) in a primary.
There's been a lot of talk in the media about Puerto Rico's caucuses being the Democrats' only contest to allocate delegates through a winner take all system, positing that perhaps Hillary Clinton would be able to eat into Barack Obama's pledged delegate lead by winning all of Puerto Rico's 56 pledged delegates. Not so according to The Washington Post's Fact Checker:
The notion of Puerto Rico being a "winner-take-all" jurisdiction stems from previous presidential primary contests, which were pretty much over by the time the Puerto Ricans got to vote. John Kerry swept Puerto Rico in 2004 just as Al Gore triumphed in 2000 because they were the only candidates left in the race, and the party bosses could manipulate the caucus process.
This time will be very different, according to several Puerto Rican Democratic leaders I contacted earlier today by phone. [...]
"Both the candidates have supporters on the island," said Eliseo Roques, vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee's Hispanic Caucus, and a prominent Puerto Rican politician who is neutral in the race. "You will see a closely contested race."
Certainly Hillary Clinton has to be favored in Puerto Rico, perhaps even moreso now that it's a primary, but don't expect it to be the delegate goldmine some were thinking it would be.