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MN: Dems Buzzing Before Caucus Starts

By Christopher J. Lee
Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party presidential caucuses don't start until this evening, but the party faithful are already buzzing with activity.

Voters are flocking to the Web sites for the DFL party and Minnesota's secretary of state in search of caucus locations. And party leaders expect to nearly double the 56,000-person turnout from 2004, largely because the caucuses--for the first time--will be on Super Tuesday rather than in early March.

"We've been inundated with calls," said Kelly Schwinghammer, a DFL party spokeswoman.

In addition to fielding calls, party officials are getting ready for a celebratory gathering tonight, open to anyone, at Carpenter's Union Hall in downtown St. Paul. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) will address the crowd at 10 p.m. local time.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned in Minneapolis over the weekend in hopes of locking up the state's 88 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, 72 of which will be awarded in proportion to the share of the vote candidates collect today. Obama has blitzed Minneapolis-area airwaves with ads highlighting his early opposition to the Iraq war, while the Clinton campaign is spending its TV money elsewhere.

The Republican caucus vote here today is nonbinding. The state will send 41 delegates to the Republican National Convention, but who gets them will not be determined until the state GOP convention in May. Still, interest in the caucuses is higher than usual this year, if for no other reason than that the Republican National Convention will be held in Minneapolis this summer.

Both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul made campaign stops in the Minneapolis area over the last few days, but GOP hopefuls generally have shied away from spending money on TV ads in the state.

A Minnesota Public Radio News/University of Minnesota poll conducted Jan. 18 to 27 showed Clinton leading Obama 40 percent to 33 percent, and had McCain over Romney, 41 percent to 22 percent. But insiders from both parties noted that the poll sampled voter opinion in general, not that of likely caucus-goers, so the results may not be terribly indicative of what might happen in Tuesday's vote.

By Washington Post Editor  |  February 5, 2008; 12:14 PM ET
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