Participation levels in the Caucuses were unprecedented. Turnout on the Democratic side was nearly 240,000. Republican officials peg GOP turnout at 124,000. The stories are streaming in about standing-room only crowds gathering in precincts around the state.
In one precinct in Clive, the crowd was so large it didn’t fit in a function room at the police station, so the fire fighters drove all the trucks out of the fire house and the assembly of Democrats moved inside to stand and be counted for their candidates. At another in Urbandale, voters who showed up nearly 40 minutes early found lines outside the precinct. Precinct workers said they were expecting 200, but ended up with 600.
Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge went home to Albia to Caucus and talked with her local radio station afterwards. "I want to say thank you to all the Iowans of both political parties. I think the question of whether Iowa deserves the first-in-the-nation status has been answered very, very clearly tonight by the turnout for this caucus and by the hard work that Iowans of both parties have done over the past several months," Judge said.
The last time Iowa saw competitive races on both sides of the political aisle was back in 1988. A total of 233,000 Iowans turned out for both parties. Last night, about 364,000 turned out.