On Tuesday, March 1, otherwise known as “Super Tuesday,” voters gathered in Buntrock Commons to cast their presidential preference ballots and caucus in the Democratic primary. St. Olaf’s turnout was impressive. A total of 702 students showed up to caucus, rivaling the 730 that turned out for the 2014 midterm elections. The group formed a line that wound up stairs and through hallways from the Pause to Rolvaag Library.
According to Students for Sanders organizer Taylor Lightman ’16, Rice County saw a 22.3 percent increase in voter turnout from 2008 for the Democratic caucus. After a last minute location change, St. Olaf students and other Northfield community members who live within 1st Ward, 1st Precinct used the Pause Mane Stage as their caucus location.
Senator Bernie Sanders swept St. Olaf ’s caucus with a whopping 83 percent, former Secretary Hillary Clinton took second with 16.4 percent, Governor Martin O’Malley received two votes and Rocky De La Fuente received none. Sanders ultimately won the Minnesota caucus and also took Colorado, Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont. Clinton was victorious in the remaining Super Tuesday states, winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
The Northfield Republican caucus was held at Northfield High School. St. Olaf students who wished to attend the Republican caucus were provided transportation to the high school. In Rice County, Senator Ted Cruz won the preferential poll with 32 percent of the vote, Senator Marco Rubio followed in second with 29.6 percent, Donald Trump took third with 22.3 percent, Dr. Ben Carson got 10.6
percent and Governor John Kasich won five percent. There were four write in votes, three for Senator Rand Paul and one for Jason Lewis. Rubio won the Minnesota caucus with 37 percent of the vote statewide. Donald Trump was the winner of Super Tuesday nationwide with victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Ted Cruz picked up Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Students for Sanders, St. Olaf ’s Bernie Sanders campaign group, was quite visible during caucus time. They had volunteers handing out stickers, rallying supporters and canvassing caucus-goers throughout Buntrock Commons. Students for Sanders has been active for quite some time on campus and has hosted phone banks, canvassing sessions through Northfield neighborhoods and “dorm storm” canvasses.
Students also took to social media to advertise the caucus and encourage their peers to vote. Though Minnesota’s caucuses do not require formal voter registration, the rules for eligibility can be complicated. To participate, voters had to reside in the precinct and be of eligible voting age by the November general elections.
Both Students for Sanders and Oles for Clinton had tables set up inside the Pause on caucus night with campaign materials and in- formation. Students from Students for Sand- ers, Oles for Clinton and St Olaf’s College Democrats, along with members of the Rice County DFL, helped run the caucus. A small but dedicated crowd stayed after casting their preferential ballots to elect delegates for the precinct.