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The Republican caucuses in Colorado have only one purpose

Colorado’s GOP caucuses will be held February 7, 2012
Colorado’s GOP caucuses will be held February 7, 2012

A Massachusetts moderate, a Senator from Pennsylvania rarely seen without a sweater-vest, and the former Speaker of the US House (as well as one libertarian doctor from Texas) are now blitzing through Colorado. Colorado’s GOP caucuses will be held February 7, 2012; and though the caucus is non-binding the results are bound to be more impactful than any of the presidential hopefuls might have otherwise assumed.

Colorado’s precinct caucuses will not result in any candidate winning delegates. Delegates will not be chosen until April. . . And yet, eyes are now upon our state, and the results of the informal presidential preference poll that is the Colorado caucus event, will profoundly impact the race moving forward. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Until the election year of 2008, Colorado did not hold a formal presidential preference poll. (Thank you former GOP chairman, Dick Wadhams.) And the afore-mentioned non-binding, but woefully informal, town hall vote will indicate who Republicans in Colorado would like to see as the GOP presidential nominee. That is the center of events at 7:00 pm on February 7, 2012. The caucus is essentially a town meeting, in which delegates are chosen for later contests. A win on the first Tuesday of February does not promise the victor any votes in the national convention where the candidate for the general Presidential election is officially nominated.

As the GOP’s website explains (in what appears to be seventh grade English):

At each precinct caucus meeting, a Presidential preference poll is held, local political party leaders are selected, and delegates to county and district assemblies are elected. . . Colorado's full 36 delegates will not be chosen until April.

Essentially, it is the first step, in a long process, which will ultimately end on April 14th when Colorado holds its State GOP convention.

So, why does it matter? (I know. I can read your mind.) Our current nomination process – setting aside my fundamental disagreements about how it is run – has one magic word that every candidate hopes will be applied to their campaign: Momentum. The GOP decided, in the mid 20th century, that it would be publicly beneficial for their otherwise stuffy image to cast aside any notion of representative governance, and follow the lead of the Democrat party by opening their nomination process up to the public. As a result of voters flocking (I use that word lightly) to the polling places and caucuses across the country; the number one concern on everyone’s mind was: electability.

Electability. Voters know that word all too well. That adjective has given the Republican Party such gems as John McCain, Bob Dole, and Gerald Ford. And yet, when the primary or caucus comes along, what is the primary concern of most voters? I have no illusions. As Bill Buckley once said, “Always vote for the most conservative, winnable candidate.” However, electable should not be synonymous with moderate. . . But I digress.

The winner, and those who over-perform their expectations, on the first Tuesday of February in Colorado will carry on with more momentum into the following states. The next slew of potential delegate-accumulators (known in the real world as presidential primary contests) will be impacted by the outcome of Colorado’s non-binding preference poll; because of momentum.

If Rick Santorum performs substantially better than he did over the weekend (coming in last place in Nevada) get used to his easy smile and sweater vests; because he’ll be around for bit longer. If Newt Gingrich makes yet another sudden and inexplicable resurgence, then let’s assume his comments about fighting all the way to the convention were not merely political fodder. And if Mitt Romney performs as well as vanilla ice cream (as he is likely to do) brace yourself for the “front-runner” title being etched in stone.

And if Ron Paul has a respectable showing in Colorado’s caucuses; let not your heart be troubled. The college students who showed up to the GOP caucus will someday comfortably adapt to the label “conservative”. . . After they grow up.

The purpose of the GOP caucuses in Colorado? To define a campaign as having the ever coveted momentum needed to secure future contests.

Happy voting. . . Click here to find your caucus.

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