By Craig Grau, associate professor of political science, University of Minnesota at Duluth
March 8, 2000, 5:30pm EST--On Tuesday March 7 caucuses were held for three of the four major parties in Minnesota: the Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party), and the Republican Party. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will hold theirs on Saturday and Sunday - March 18 and 19.
According to the most recent tabulation by the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office George W. Bush received 63 percent of the votes of caucus attendees in an advisory vote with 72 percent of the precincts reporting. Surprisingly Alan Keyes came in second with nearly 20 percent followed by John McCain with 17 percent. There was no electronic advertisements and few visits by any of the candidates in the past year.
The total votes so far are less than 19,000. With 766,476 voting for Bob Dole in 1996, caucus attendees are about 2-3 percent of the Republican presidentail electorate in the state. These activists seem to be more socially conservative and therefore more inclined percentagewise toward Keyes than in other primary states.
The Minnesota Independance Party has left the national Reform Party. Their caucuses attendees were given the names of all announced candidates for President. John McCain led all others with over 40 percent (just over 70 votes so far), followed by George W. Bush with 11 percent, John Hagelin (Natural Law Party) 9 percent, and Pat Buchanan 6 percent. Turnout was very light.
The Constitution Party gave all their votes to Howard Philips. Their attendance was light as well.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party decided to hold caucuses and have a binding vote by attendees on a weekend to boost attendance. Attendance has been declining. Although they have a spirited race for the U.S. Senate nomination (especially with the withdrawal of Tim Penny), their attendees will not have much choice in their binding Presidential balloting given the events in the primaries on March 7th.