Obama upsets Clinton in Red Wing and county
Fifteen minutes after kickoff, it was standing room only for Red Wing Democrats.
A massive turnout of 575 voters filled Twin Bluff Middle School's cafeteria Tuesday night for the Democratic-Farm-Labor Party caucus. By evening's end, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was the winner, garnering 329 votes to U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's 241. Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards received three votes and two votes were uncommitted.
"It has far surpassed any expectations I've had," Goodhue County DFL Chairwoman Colleen Clark said of the turnout. "Last time, there were only 110" people at the caucus.
In Goodhue County, a total of 1,119 Democrats voted in caucuses. Obama won the county as well, bringing in 661 votes. Clinton followed with 447 votes, while Edwards had six votes and five votes were uncommitted.
Young people turned out in large numbers in Red Wing. State Rep. Sandy Wollschlager, DFL-Cannon Falls, said she even saw a lot of kids bringing their parents out to the caucuses.
The turnout of youth voters may have been what put Obama over the top.
Obama stickers heavily outweighed Clinton decor, especially among young people like 18-year-old Joe Walch. The Red Wing High School student said Obama appealed to him because he sensed the candidate was inviting him and others into politics.
Twenty-somethings Scotty Gillmer and Abby Wolner also said they supported Obama.
"Today I did my research on Hillary and Obama," Wolner said. "They're pretty similar on all the issues. But his campaign slogan is about change and that's refreshing."
Identity politics also motivated Gillmer to support Obama.
"I think he's a good speaker and he seems more genuine than Hillary Clinton," Gillmer said.
Clinton stickers were most popular among middle-aged and elderly voters, although some youths were seen supporting Clinton.
The campaign message that Clinton's substance trumped Obama's style reverberated with her Red Wing supporters.
Clinton supporter Rene Gilles said Clinton's experience in Washington, D.C., gives her an edge over Obama. She said Obama is a good speaker but is too fresh and he might be similar to a certain peanut farmer.
"I don't want another Jimmy Carter," Gilles said. "He was basically ineffectual."
Terese Bjornstad also said Clinton's experience is what won her over.
"She knows how the system works and can hit the ground running," Bjornstad said.
Yet, in terms of policy, Bjornstad said she doesn't see "a major difference" between the candidates. In fact, she said her ideal Democratic ticket would include both Clinton and Obama -- just that Obama's name would be in the small print.
More than the candidates themselves, however, much of Tuesday night's buzz was generated by recently unmatched voter turnout.
"Wow," said Red Wing City Council member Mike Schultz. "We never used to fill this room."