Washington GOP Caucuses: What you need to know

Washington GOP Caucuses: What you need to know

Washington GOP Caucuses: What you need to know


by KING5.com


Posted on February 29, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 3 at 7:02 PM

What: Washington Republican Caucus

When: Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m.

Who: Any Washington state registered voter

Where: Find your caucus location online at:

What’s at stake: No delegates to the Republican National Convention will be selected on March 3. It’s purely a non-binding straw poll. Still, the winning candidate gets bragging rights heading into Super Tuesday on March 6, when 10 states hold primaries or caucuses.

Results: The state party expects to announce results of the presidential preference ballot at 5 p.m. PT. KING 5 News and KING5.com will carry the results.

How delegates to the national convention are picked: Washington will have 43 delegates at the Republican National Convention.  None of the delegates will be selected or allocated based on the March 3 caucuses.  In previous years, half of the Washington GOP delegates were allocated based on the caucuses and half based on the primary.  This year, with no primary on the calendar, the state party decided that the caucuses would not be used to determine presidential preference of national convention delegates.

So what is happening this weekend?  Caucus-goers will vote in a presidential preference straw poll as part of the check-in process prior to the start of the caucuses. Each attendeee will fill out a form that includes a place where he or she can write down the name of a preferred candidate. Those forms will be tallied later in the day, long after the caucuses have ended. The straw poll results will be announced Saturday night.

The precinct caucuses will elect delegates to upcoming county conventions.  There's no linkage between presidential preference and the election of those delegates.  The county conventions will elect delegates to the state convention, again with no linkage to presidential preference.  The state convention will elect 40 delegates to the national convention (three delegates per congressional district and ten delegates at large).  Those 40 delegates will be committed to specific presidential candidates.

The remaining three delegates are party officials who will go to the convention uncommitted, although they are free to announce their support for a candidate if they so choose.

2012 Washington State Republican Caucus Q&A (Courtesy Wash. State Republican Party)

What is a caucus?

A caucus is an organized gathering of registered voters set up by precincts or neighborhoods where voters meet to elect delegates to the county conventions, express their thoughts and opinions about different items in the Republican Party Platform, and state their presidential preference for the Straw Poll. The caucus is the only chance for people to register their vote for who the Republicans will nominate to run against President Obama.

Why is there no primary this year?

Due to budgetary considerations, the Secretary of State and the State Legislature decided to cancel the presidential primary this year. In the past, Washington State had both a primary and a caucus.

What is the difference between a caucus and a primary?

People get to vote to select who their nominee will be. In Washington State, this is conducted via mailed ballots. A caucus, rather, is where members of local communities meet and elect delegates to the County Convention. At the County Convention, those selected delegates will elect delegates to the State Convention, who in turn will select Washington State’s 40 delegates to the National Convention (the Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. in Tampa, Fla).

What takes place during a caucus?

Participants will elect delegates to the County Convention, where they will then elect delegates to the State Convention and amend and vote on the County Platform.

Do I have to be a registered Republican to participate in the caucus?

No. You only need to be registered to vote and be willing to sign a form stating that you ‘consider yourself to be a republican’ and that you will not participate in any other party’s caucus this year. Washington State does not have partisan voter registration, so you cannot register as a Republican or Democrat. Even if you have voted for Democrats in past elections, you may still participate in the caucus.

When is the caucus?

The caucus will take place Saturday, March 3 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. You are encouraged to arrive at your caucus location around 9:30 a.m. for check-in.

Do I need to bring anything with me to the caucus?

You are encouraged to bring your voter registration card with you on the day of the caucus. This will assist in rapid check-in. During check-in, you will participate in the presidential straw poll, where you will write down your presidential preference.

Once checked-in, you will sit with your precinct and either caucus in an individual or pooled setting. An individual caucus is where one precinct caucuses in a household or small building. A pooled caucus is when multiple precincts caucus in the same location.

Is there any cost associated with participating in the caucus?

Yes. There is a cost for attending your County Convention. It is due within a week or two following the caucus.

What happens after the caucus? How do I know the results?

Delegates will show up at their county caucuses where they will elect delegates to the State Convention. Then, at the State Convention, delegates will be elected to the National Convention. The ultimate ‘winner’ of Washington State delegates will not be determined until the State Convention on May 30-June 2. However, you will be able to see who most Washingtonians voted for when the straw poll results are released to the press the evening of March 3. These results are non-binding.

Do I need to register or notify anyone before participating in the caucus?

No. Just show up on caucus day.

How do I know what precinct I belong to?

A voter must caucus in the precinct that they are registered to vote in and voters will check-in by precinct. Caucus locations will have lists of all the registered voters in each precinct. If you are unsure of which precinct you belong to, you can locate yours here: wsrpcaucus.tumblr.com/caucuslocator.

Can I volunteer at the caucus?

Yes. Volunteers are welcome to help register participants and set up for the caucus. Contact your county party for volunteer opportunities.

For complete information on the Washington State Republican Party and the 2012 caucus, visit www.wsrp.org.

What happened in 2008?

The Washington Republican Party held both a caucus and a primary in 2008. A total of 40 delegates to the national convention were allocated via the caucus and primary.

2008 Caucus:

  • Held Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008
  • John McCain won, with 49.5 percent of the vote (more than twice as many votes as Huckabee—a roughly 130,000 vote difference)
  • Second was Mike Huckabee, with 24.1 percent of the vote
  • Third was Mitt Romney, with 16.3 percent of the vote

2008 Primary:

  • Held February 19, 2008
  • John McCain won, with 25.9 percent of the vote (roughly 300 votes more than Huckabee)
  • Second was Mike Huckabee, with 23.5 percent of the vote
  • Third was Ron Paul, with 21.6 percent of the vote

 Compiled by KING5.com's Hailey Rile.