The Washington Republican caucus situation gets ever stranger, even as new information comes to light. (A little like the plot of Lost.)
There's a highly useful post on Sound Politics from a Republican caucus participant describing how the process went, and why the much-discussed results Saturday night mean "nothing." Most precisely, in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses, precinct participants were voting not for president but for delegates to the county convention (who in turn would vote for delegates to the state, etc., etc.). In the Democratic caucuses, backers of Clinton, Obama or otherwise split up within each precinct, and county convention delegates were chosen proportionately from within each group. in that way, you could extrapolate support for the various candidates which should play out, at least fairly closely, all the way up to the national delegate level. Apparently, it didn't work quite the same way on the Republican side:
"In my caucus, and in many others in my pooled caucus, presidential preference never even came up. Only two people wanted the two delegate spots, so we nominated them and elected them. At the precinct caucus next to ours, there were far more participants than delegates, but a similar story: they all knew each other and just said, 'well, who wants to go?,' and they picked two to nominate and that was it. Presidential preference never even entered into the equation. Other caucuses were different: a few active Republicans at a precinct caucus a few tables away didn't get elected, because they were outnumbered by Huckabee supporters. So to portray this as an election for presidential candidates is a complete misunderstanding, worsened by the fact that your stated presidential preference isn't even binding."
From that - and we're not especially doubting this clear description of the situation - anyone who showed up at the Republican caucus expecting to weigh in on the presidential nomination had been misled. And yet, about half of the delegates - pledged delegates - to the national convention from Washington were supposed to be selected through the precinct/county caucus structure. How could that be done if the delegates weren't being apportioned by candidate?
Equally, how could the state party rationally have reported at all results by candidate that afternoon and evening (and up to the present), as they have done?
The Sound Politics description suggests that it doesn't really matter whether any more counting of the McCain/Huckabee/Paul results is done or not. But it doesn't explain why the results, having been started to the 87% mark, was abruptly halted, with no indication whether it would ever be completed. (Which the party now seems, anxiously, to say will be done. Eventually.)
And if the voting was as content-free as the Sound Politics post indicates, why did state Chairman Luke Esser deliver his pronouncement - only an analysis, we hear today - that Arizona Senator John McCain had won? Even apart from the closeness of the race, how could he have had reliable figures for any analysis?
This thing gets stranger as it goes.
ANOTHER VANTAGE And this, from I Am Coyote at NW Republican, from his viewpoint in north-central Washington: "Apparently Esser's premature declaration is more about HIS preoccupation with the media than anything else. I know for a fact that Esser was calling around to various county chairs, pressuring them to give him some kind of loose vote count so that he could make a declaration. And I know at least one county chair who said 'you are NOT getting my results until I have counted and certified them.' So Esser made his declaration without the certified results and in the process has opened him and his office up to the Huckabee people putting pressure on him and... AND from what I have heard there are Ron Paul people also mad as hell that Esser and the gang have tossed some of their votes as well."