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Turnout Off the Charts

By Peter Slevin and Perry Bacon Jr.
Updated 12:52 a.m.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the Iowa Democratic Party reported a record turnout of 239,000 caucus attendees.

The unprecedented surge in attendance at the Iowa caucuses was apparent as soon as the meetings began. A veteran caucusgoer in Iowa City's Precinct 16 said that by 6:20 p.m. Central time, the gymnasium at Lucas Elementary School was packed, hot and confused: 496 people had walked through the door and more than 100 more were lined up in the hall.

"I've never seen a turnout like this," the caucus participant said.

In the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, turnout at the GOP caucus held at the Urbandale Public Library was also unusually high. The room's capacity was 150, but 300 came out to caucus, so organizers allowed people to set down their preference and leave without discussion.

(Sen. John McCain, whose Iowa headquarters is in Urbandale, did not have a precinct captain at Urbandale 10.)

Overall turnout was projected as exceeding 200,000 by aides to Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In Waterloo, Iowa's Precinct 1, Ward 6, turnout was a mere 88 people four years ago -- and 187 tonight.

A Democratic caucus participant at the 33rd Precinct in Cedar Rapids reports that Barack Obama earned 3 delegates, while John Edwards and Hillary Clinton earned 2 each.

This voter says precinct organizers announced exactly 200 total caucus participants, more than in previous years.

A majority of the 200 participants were middle-aged and elderly, though there were several first-timers in the crowd, the voter reports.

An Obama supporter reports that Obama won Tom Vilsack's Des Moines precinct by a margin of two -- and that the former governor and his wife, Christie, a major Clinton backer, didn't show.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 3, 2008; 9:35 PM ET
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