Going to a caucus? Be ready for in-your-face politics

It’s an opportunity to be part of history, part of the decision.

Today, Democrats and Republicans will hold caucuses in Jefferson and Clallam counties and across the state.

With a hotly contested nomination at stake in both parties, GOP and Democratic leaders predict big crowds.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain are campaigning in the Seattle area before today’s caucuses.

This week’s Peninsula Daily News Trip of the Week is for those who are thinking about attending a neighborhood caucus — but are unsure of what to expect.

Part town meeting and part mini-political convention, the caucuses will be held in schools, community centers and people’s homes for freewheeling electioneering and debate, and selection of the first cut of delegates — 17,000 statewide for the Republicans and 33,400 for the Democrats.

For some, the up-close and personal nature of the caucuses will be a surprise.

While people on the Peninsula don’t even leave their house to vote, the precinct caucuses are the one time they are expected by their party to get out and mix it up with neighbors and talk politics.

After today, the delegate pool will be winnowed at successive caucuses and meetings over the coming months to the group each party will send to its national convention — the Democrats in Denver in August, the Republicans in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September.

Washington state’s Republicans will send 40 delegates.

The Democrats will send 97.

The caucuses begin at 1 p.m. and will last about two hours.

Don’t be late. Caucuses are closed to entries at 1:30 p.m.

A caucus participant must be a registered voter, though the Democratic Party also allows participation by those who will be 18 at the time of the presidential election.

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