Utah Democrats will take a presidential straw poll and Republicans a straw poll on vice presidential preferences when various political parties hold caucuses around the state Monday evening.
Republican Party leaders also say they want their loyalists to discuss philosophical issues during the caucuses. The Democrats' leaders, meanwhile, say they expect twice as many party members to turn out this year for their caucuses.Those attending the caucuses, which begin just before 7 p.m. in various homes and public buildings, will watch a special half-hour program on KUED Channel 7 detailing the caucus procedure and giving the parties a few minutes each to have a say.
GOP State Chairman Craig Moody said Republicans will also view a videotape designed to lead the discussion of party principles. In addition, Gov. Norm Bangerter's campaign has a videotape about his candidacy that will be played in GOP caucuses.
Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiu-chi said traditionally 12,000 Democrats attend the caucuses. This year he expects 15,000 to 20,000.
"We're holding a presidential preference straw vote. And it means something. We will apportion our 20 at-large national delegates according to the vote," he said. "So Democrats' votes are important. Those delegates will be pledged to vote for that presidential candidate on the first ballot."
Republicans won't be taking a presidential straw poll because Vice President George Bush has already wrapped up the GOP nomination. Instead, they will hold a vice presidential straw poll.
"To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first and only vice presidential straw poll taken," Moody said. He said he just returned from a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Bush. "The vice president is very interested in who Westerners think should be his running mate."
But besides deciding county and state delegates and taking the vice presidential straw poll, Republicans are trying something new this year.
Richard Eyre and Randall Mackey, co-chairmen of the Utah Republican Policy and Issues Committee, said they want GOP caucuses to talk about basic Republican values. Three "Republican principles" will be discussed: "In developed societies, the danger of too much government is greater than the danger of too little. It is better for people to do all they can for themselves and for each other than to constantly turn to government for solutions. And it is better to create new wealth than to redistribute what we already have."
GOP district voter chairmen will take notes on the meetings and report to party leaders what the grass-roots rank-and-file Republicans are thinking, Eyre said.