BY TIM WEBBER
Students who went to the Democratic precinct in Olin Hall on caucus night were treated to chants, energy and even a visit from a presidential candidate. Were they to caucus just upstairs in Republican precinct 37, they would experience a quieter, more subdued affair, but not for lack of passion.
Like many of the other precincts voting in Olin Hall, precinct 37 had unexpected turnout, and the room eventually became standing room only. The difference? This precinct voted in a classroom, and “standing room only” still entailed merely 33 voters.
Despite the small number of voters — there were significantly more in some of the other Republican precincts at Drake — diversity was not left wanting.
Voters in the precinct represented several different races and backgrounds, spanned all ages, and were split nearly 50-50 in terms of gender. Some brought their children with them, though the kids appeared more interested in their iPads than the political process.
The candidates the voters supported were just as wide-ranging.
One woman proudly announced that she was speaking for Ted Cruz as she entered the room.
A Washington news outlet used a handheld camcorder to interview a man who supported Marco Rubio.
The precinct captain for Rand Paul talked to her neighbor about the candidate’s success among college-aged voters.
Some voters were loud in their support — or opposition — of various candidates.
One voice in the back of the room exclaimed “it’s not every day that you get to vote against a sociopath.” Others held their cards closer to their chest.
Tess Herder, a sophomore at Drake, came to the caucuses because she wanted to have her voice heard.
“I just wanted to get involved in what’s going on in politics,” Herder said. “I have a strong opinion, so I just wanted to be involved.”
Herder said she was happy that the candidate she supported, Donald Trump, received four of the 33 votes, but was disappointed he didn’t receive more.
The candidate who emerged victorious in the precinct was Marco Rubio, who earned his plurality with just eight votes.
Ted Cruz followed with six, and Rand Paul came in third with five. Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie also received votes.
However, Cruz was eventually named the winner of the statewide caucuses. Trump and Rubio followed closely behind. All three received more than 23 percent of the vote, but none more than 30.
The story of the caucuses may be the impressive turnout. Was it the unseasonably warm weather or the unusual nature of this caucus cycle that brought the voters out of the woodwork?
Either way, many precincts were jam-packed with people hoping to make their voices heard. Volunteers in Olin Hall scrambled to make copies of presidential preference ballots and eventually resorted to scrap paper.
Like many of her fellow voters, Sonya Shabazz, a Drake Law student, thought it was important to participate in the caucuses.
“This is my first time doing the caucuses here, and I felt that it was important for me to play an integral part in the political process,” Shabazz said. “I feel like it’s my right. I pay taxes, so I should be able to vote and help decide.”
Shabazz said that she felt inspired by the caucuses to get more involved with politics.
“It makes me want to be more vocal,” Shabazz said. “It just makes me want to stay active in the political process and be more active in the community.”
Herder, meanwhile, said she learned a lot from the event.
“I think it’s matured my views a little bit,” Herder said. “Now (I’ve heard) more views of other passionate people, and their take on (politics).”