Missouri’s caucuses, in essence, elect people who vote for other people who then decide which presidential candidate to support. The district conventions are held in April, while the state convention doesn’t roll around until June. Furthermore, a few of the caucuses were postponed because of St. Patrick’s Day.
For this reason, nobody really “won” the caucuses, and we have only anecdotal evidence to judge what the eventual results might be. Many of these anecdotes involve Ron Paul supporters going wild.
Police were summoned to a high school gym in St. Charles County, where two Paul supporters were arrested, after violating caucus rules by setting up a video camera. According to USA Today, they “started to become verbally aggressive with event organizers and police officers.” The county Republican chairman, Eugene Dokes, feared the “possibility of someone trying to inflict personal injury or harm to me.” A police helicopter was buzzing overhead at one point. The caucus meeting, which had over 2,500 attendees, was canceled and rescheduled for a later date.
The Kansas City Star reports that in Clay County, “arguments between Ron Paul supporters and others became so intense that the caucus chairman threatened to have voters removed by force.” The Paul people say the caucus rules were bent, and broken, to work against their candidate:
Backers of the Texas congressman said they were upset their views weren’t being heard. “We’re just a little frustrated because caucuses are supposed to be run by a very strict set of rules,” said Paul supporter John Findlay, who lost his bid to become caucus chairman. “We raised a number of points of order, points of information, points of parliamentary inquiry, many of which have been ignored.”
But county caucus chairman Ben Wierzbicki said all caucus-goers had been treated fairly.
“Certain people have made it very difficult on most of the people who are involved in this caucus,” he said. “It might be a little crazy, but that’s part of it.”
In the end, Clay County caucus attendees “firmly rejected an effort to more closely align the party platform with Paul’s views.”
ABC News relayed more reports of rowdy Paul supporters at caucus meetings in Boone, Greene, and Lincoln Counties. Paul ended up doing well at the first two caucuses, while in Lincoln County, there were more complaint of the rules being slanted against the gentleman from Texas. ABC notes that some of these complaints involve Paul supporters asserting that Robert’s Rules of Order transcend rules set by the county chairman.
ABC also provides some anecdotal evidence for those who suspect that Paul – who serves no realistic function in the Republican primary at this point beyond suppressing the vote for other candidates – has made some sort of arrangement with front-runner Mitt Romney:
While speculation has been noted on a national level that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are somehow colluding in the 2012 race, anecdotal evidence from Missouri suggests some cooperation: In counties where Paul supporters showed well, Romney supporters and Paul supporters appeared together on mixed delegate slates. Local GOP officials said they couldn’t say, one way or another, whether Paul and Romney backers seemed to be cooperating in any organized way at individual caucus sites.
Since Newt Gingrich mostly remains in the race to poach delegates from Romney, the drawn-out and complicated Missouri caucuses are a good metaphor for the entire drawn-out and complicated GOP primary at this point: sound and fury, signifying something-or-other.