Local GOP turnout below state average

By Brian Martucci

The Republican caucus at Longfellow Elementary School, located near the corner of Marshall and Cleveland avenues, was a far cry from the raucous events that drew hundreds of local DFLers to Kagin Commons and Ramsey Junior High on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The GOP event a few blocks away was smaller and more reserved, though similarly enthusiastic. The lapels and car bumpers that bared the namess McCain, Romney and Huckabee made no secret of their owners’ political leanings, but the block-long lines at the two DFL voting spots dwarfed the modest out spill from Longfellow’s entrances.

According to a Minnesota GOP press release, the turnout in the west-central St. Paul precinct was at odds with the “record smashing” statewide Republican turnout. Macalester’s precinct, as with most core-city precincts in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, leans heavily Democratic.

Minnesota’s paper balloting system complicates the rapid reporting of vote counts, but as of press time the previous record tally of 58,000, set in 1988, had already been exceeded. With about 98 percent of ballots counted, Mitt Romney had a two-to-one lead over John McCain in the state with about 41.5 percent of the vote (25,171) McCain touched 21 percent (13,180) with Mike Huckabee close behind at 20 percent (12,115).

One-time buzz maker Ron Paul received a respectable but futile 15.1 percent (9,412). Alan Keyes, the perennial long-shot Republican primary candidate who has received virtually no press this election cycle, found himself a distant second-to-last (352 votes), trailed only by the write-in option (272).

Romney’s support appeared particularly high in suburban Twin Cities precincts; he won one Edina precinct over McCain by a greater than two-to-one margin, according to blogger and caucus attendee North Star Liberty. This could be due to the depth of Romney’s campaign network in Minnesota, with supporters willing to devote the full hour and a half necessary to vote in GOP caucuses in the state, according to local blogger Shot In the Dark. Unlike the Minnesota DFL, the Minnesota GOP requires caucus attendees to stay all the way through.

If nothing else, Tuesday’s statewide results-the lukewarm showing in Macalester’s true-blue backyard notwithstanding-hint that Republicans might be pulling out of the post-midterm malaise that has characterized the past year.