Big crowds overwhelmed some Democratic precinct caucus locations Saturday, with early reports of heavy turnout and many precincts favoring Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
As caucus results rolled in, Sanders appeared headed for a landslide win. In initial results from five small counties, Sanders was beating Clinton by a 3-1 margin. (The early numbers were based on about 7 percent of statewide precincts, and larger counties, such as King, Pierce and Snohomish had yet to come in as of 1 p.m. Look here for continuously updated results.)
At Seattle’s Town Hall, the 900-capacity meeting space couldn’t accommodate all the caucus-goers trying to squeeze in, leaving some precincts to meet in the parking lot.
“It’s really wild here. There is no room for anybody,” said Mike Caplow, one of those unable to get inside. He said caucus leaders were trying their best to work out the situation.
Similar scenes played out elsewhere in Seattle and across the state. On Capitol Hill, precincts moved to Cal Anderson park. At Cascade Middle School in Vancouver, Ward Upson, a retired teacher, surveyed the standing room only crowd that showed up for the caucus and compared it to eight years ago when Clinton faced off against then-Sen. Barack Obama.
“It sure wasn’t like this. It was a quiet little meeting,” he said, estimating today’s turnout at twice the number of the 2008 caucus.
State Democratic Party spokesman Jamal Raad said “we are seeing incredible turnout” and had reports of “a lot of folks moving outside because of overflow in the buildings.” He said coordinators were “trying to manage it.”
Raad said the caucuses may overtake the previous record participation of 250,000 in 2008.
Sanders was blowing Clinton away in many Seattle-area precincts. Ralling 15,000 supporters Friday night at Safeco Field, Sanders had predicted a big turnout would lift him to victory in Washington, allowing him to pick up the lion’s share of the state’s 101 pledged delegates.