The Democratic Party of New Mexico is playing a classic game of “underpromise and overdeliver” when it comes to Tuesday’s presidential caucus (subscription):
When Gov. Bill Richardson successfully pushed in 2003 to hold a New Mexico Democratic presidential contest in early February, the goal was to shine more political attention on the state.
The tactic worked in 2004: Candidates made dozens of trips to New Mexico in advance of that year’s Democratic caucus. Voters for many weeks couldn’t turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without seeing a reminder of the event.
But lots of other states have since decided to move their contests to early February, too.
Now, Democratic leaders think New Mexico voter turnout for the party’s presidential caucus on Tuesday could pale in comparison to turnout the first time around.
State Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colón said this week he anticipates 30,000 to 40,000 of New Mexico’s 532,000-plus registered Democrats to show up at caucus locations on the Super Tuesday compared to more than 100,000 last time.
In contrast, voter turnout in other states’ 2008 Democratic nominating contests has shattered past records as excitement over the race between front-runners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama has mounted.
Mark my words. When turnout in New Mexico exceeds the 30,000 to 40,000 predicted, Democratic leaders will turn around and say:
We far exceeded our expectations. Despite the fact, that significantly less money was spent than years passed, more than [fill-in the blank] the number of people we projected turned out. This is a clear indication that people are eager for a change in Washington. Blah, blah, blah….
I don’t often make predictions, but I feel confident about this one.