Obama Wins Wyoming Caucuses

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Sen. Barack Obama wins the Wyoming Democratic caucuses on Saturday, 58 percent to 41 percent for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Twelve delegates are at stake in the Cowboy State. Obama has now won 13 caucuses to Clinton's three.

JACKI LYDEN, host:

Democrats in Wyoming today turned out in record numbers for party caucuses. This has been an unusual week for Democrats in the Cowboy State. Wyoming is 60 percent registered Republican. And they're not used to all the excitement they've received from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and, of course, the media.

NPR's Jeff Brady is in Cheyenne, where that county's caucus is wrapping up and he joins me now. Hi Jeff, what's happening?

JEFF BRADY: Some of the counties have finished counting their ballots, but there's at least one county caucus that won't begin until later. Here in Cheyenne, the caucus was held in a theater. And out in the back in the makeup room they were counting the ballots here a little while ago. It's been an extraordinary turnout all over the state of Wyoming.

Here in Cheyenne, there were about 1500 people who cast ballots. That's about three times what the party had predicted. And maybe up to 10 or 15 times the number of people who typically show up for a presidential nominating caucus. When I arrived here this morning there were people lined up all the way out the door, around the block, around the parking garage, and not everyone made it in by the time the gavel fell at 9:00.

But the party kind of held voting in waves so they could fit all of the people into the theater.

LYDEN: I like the notions of theater, it is political theater. Usually, we think of Wyoming as a very Republican state with Democrats seriously outnumbered. Tell us a bit about them.

BRADY: It is a Republican state and also rural. There are only about a half million people here. You know, if you travel down the freeway and then get off on one of the off-ramps, there are actually cattle guards on many of those off-ramps. In the entire state there are only about 60,000 Democrats and usually they kind of feel like underdogs. It's just not an easy state to be a Democrat and I certainly got that impression when I talked from a woman named Rowena Crane(ph). She lives in Cheyenne and says she keeps her party affiliation to herself.

Ms. ROWENA CRANE (Voter): Well I don't announce it a whole lot because it is a Republican state. And being I am in business for myself, you know, that could hurt it.

BRADY: That said, Wyoming does a history of electing moderate Democrats. Usually they also support gun rights. The current governor, Dave Freudenthal, he's a Democrat and he won his last election in a landslide.

LYDEN: How do the caucuses work in Wyoming?

BRADY: They're closed caucuses here so you have to be registered with the Democratic Party and you had to register before February 22nd, and folks here believe that a lot of folks actually did that so that they could participate in this particular Democratic caucus.

LYDEN: When are we going to have results?

BRADY: The results are starting to trickle in now. We're seeing especially areas where, you know, just a few dozen people were there. Just about all the counties are reporting huge turnout though, so it may take a little while longer to tally those votes.

LYDEN: NPR's Jeff Brady in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Thanks very much for checking in with us.

BRADY: Thank you.

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