Routt County Democratic Precinct Committee Person Marlyn Myers, top right in blue turtleneck, explains the straw polling process to caucus-goers at the Steamboat Springs High School on Tuesday night.

Photo by Brian Ray

Routt County Democratic Precinct Committee Person Marlyn Myers, top right in blue turtleneck, explains the straw polling process to caucus-goers at the Steamboat Springs High School on Tuesday night.

Obama wins big

Romney edges McCain in crowded Routt caucuses

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Paul Strong, left, collects straw poll ballots at the Routt County Republican caucus location in the Courthouse Annex in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday night.

Republicans

290 participants in Routt County

Mitt Romney

Total votes: 113

Steamboat and vicinity: 70

Hayden: 21

South Routt: 17

North Routt: 5

John McCain

Total votes: 110

Steamboat and vicinity: 60

Hayden: 16

South Routt: 16

North Routt: 18

Mike Huckabee

Total votes: 45

Steamboat and vicinity: 13

Hayden: 4

South Routt: 27

North Routt: 1

Ron Paul

Total votes: 22

Steamboat and vicinity: 11

Hayden: 7

South Routt: 3

North Routt: 1

Democrats

584 participants in Routt County

Barack Obama

Total votes: 428

Steamboat and vicinity: 352

Hayden: 17

South Routt: 34

North Routt: 25

Hillary Clinton

Total votes: 148

Steamboat and vicinity: 117

Hayden: 12

South Routt: 16

North Routt: 3

— Barack Obama won overwhelming support from Democrats and Mitt Romney edged John McCain among Republicans in Tuesday caucuses that drew hundreds to precinct locations across Routt County.

Sen. Obama drew 428 votes of support compared to 148 for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Obama won in every region of Routt County, including a resounding victory among Steamboat Springs caucus-goers. Local Republican sentiment was much more evenly split between the two GOP front-runners, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. John McCain. Romney edged the Arizona senator by just three votes of support in Routt County, 113 to 110.

Colorado's participation with 23 other states in Super Tuesday - the most widespread single-day caucus and primary event in the nation's history - spurred unprecedented turnouts at local caucuses. In 2004, when Colorado caucused in April, a total of 115 Democrats participated in Routt County. Tuesday, about four times that number registered just at Steamboat Springs High School, which hosted caucuses for Steamboat area voters.

County Republicans also praised their turnout.

"People were here at 6 o'clock waiting for me," said Routt County Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon, who presided over Republican caucuses for several downtown precincts at the Routt County Courthouse Annex.

With the large crowds came large amounts of energy and excitement for candidates.

Steamboat resident Bob Pensack, speaking to more than 450 registered Democrats at the high school, compared Obama to former President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"He stirs in me the same kind of passion and hope," Pensack said. "He has the ability to unite all of us for the betterment of our country."

Holly Nelson of precinct 13, which includes much of Old Town, told her neighbors that she supports Clinton because of the New York senator's experience, strong support of universal health care policies and fiscal responsibility.

"She is listening to America, and she alone has the experience to lead America on day one," Nelson said.

But several precinct 13 participants said Tuesday that Clinton's experience - or perhaps, America's experience with the Clintons - points to a need for change in the White House.

"Their No. 1 issue was health care, and they couldn't get it done," Seventh Street resident Margaret Berglund said of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

At the courthouse annex, precinct 15 resident Alvin Skiles said he supports McCain because the veteran lawmaker is "better prepared than Romney" to deal with terrorism. Skiles said that while Romney "might be better" at managing the nation's economy, economic policy wouldn't matter in the event of a terrorist attack.

"John will protect our economy by protecting U.S. soil," Skiles said.

At the Strawberry Park residence of Jack and Geneva Taylor, precinct 4 Republican Roger Burton said he prefers Romney's policies on taxes and immigration. McCain's immigration policies come too close to providing amnesty for people living here illegally, Burton said.

Local Democratic and Republican leaders took advantage of Tuesday's crowds to promote upcoming events and opportunities for continuing political involvement.

"Our attendance figures are skyrocketing," said Catherine Carson, acting chairwoman of Routt County Democrats. "I'm so excited that everyone is so energized."

At the end of the night, Pensack shook his head in wonder at the high school crowd and asked Carson if she "had ever seen anything like this."

"Not in Routt County," Carson replied.

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