Well, we had our touch of the political process this evening. I was over at Mounds View High School for the District 50B GOP caucus. It was pretty well attended, as most of the seats in the MVHS auditorium were filled. The DFLers were there too, but we didn't see much of them, as they didn't have much to do. There were 72 people from our precinct who attended.
This is a bit of a strange time, because redistricting is coming down in the next two weeks and no one really knows what the districts will look like. Currently our house district includes New Brighton, Arden Hills, a portion of Shoreview and a portion of Fridley, while the other half of the district is primarily the remainder of Fridley and Columbia Heights. Demographically, it's a district that leans DFL, especially on the western side. It's possible that our precinct might be connected to St. Anthony and Roseville, or Shoreview and Lino Lakes, depending on how the districts are drawn. St. Anthony and Roseville have voted DFL in recent years, but are not as solid as the Heights or Fridley. If we join Shoreview and Lino Lakes, the district becomes pretty GOP friendly. That adds a certain level of uncertainty, especially for prospective candidates for state office. A lot will shake out at the senate district convention.
As for the vote in our precinct, it was close. It lined up as follows:
Rick Santorum 27
Ron Paul 25
Mitt Romney 12
Newt Gingrich 7
Herman Cain 1
From what I can tell, that is a similar result to what happened elsewhere in the state, as it appears that Santorum has won the straw poll vote. There was a message in the vote, I suspect, which is that the Republican electorate hasn't exactly settled on Romney yet and that they would like the process to continue.
To be honest, I don't suspect that either Santorum or Paul will be the eventual nominee, but I'm reasonably certain that both of them would ultimately like to move Romney closer to their respective agendas. The problem is that there's not a lot of overlap there. Santorum has scored recently because he's offered the most forthright criticism of Romneycare, while Paul's overall warnings about the monetary system and the dangers of our profligate ways are certainly a factor for many voters.
After a lot of thought, I ended up casting my vote for Paul, because I'm more concerned about financial issues than social issues, at least in this cycle. While I understand the appeal that Santorum offers, especially on social issues, my concerns about his statist ways were too much for me to overcome. As for Paul, I am alternately amused and offended by his bizarre foreign policy notions, and troubled by the Eric Hoffer-call-your-office nature of some of his more, ahem, ardent supporters, but there's no denying that he has a point regarding the way the government has been mortgaging our future. And in truth, Paul knows that he's not going to be president, so it was important to send a message to the guy who will likely carry the Republican banner. While the overall message in the Santorum/Paul split may not provide specific guidance on policy questions, Mitt Romney needs to consider why 72 reasonable souls in a swing district gave him only 1 out of every six votes cast. If Mitt would like some help understanding the reasons, he might start consider climbing out of his campaign pillbox and start listening a little bit.