The 2016 Kentucky Caucus

Wrap Up Information

Kentucky Caucus Results

Trump 35.92% (16 delegates), Cruz 31.57% (14 delegates), Rubio 16.36% (7 delegates), Kasich 14.43% (6 delegates).

Thank you to all those who shared KYCaucus.com and helped this site to be an amazing success. Grassroots really works, and we couldn’t be happier!

We want to tell you how successful your grassroots effort was, and to share some concerns we have as a result of this experience.

the stats you need to know

229, 667 Republican voters got out on Caucus Day and cast their ballot for President. 138,717 (over half of the total caucus voters in the state!) visited KYCaucus.com to get information about the Caucus. Not bad for an “unofficial” website that only launched 4 months ago!

We set up redundant servers on the 21st of February (a CDN), as our traffic increased, to handle any potential spikes (and I’m glad we did, since the “official” site was not functioning during peak times, according to people who contacted us and thanked us for having a site that worked.)

CDN Stats for KYCaucus.com

In just 14 days, the CDN (content delivery network) we used served up over 3.8 MILLION files (over a million of which were on caucus day itself!) and transferred nearly 100 gigs of information to our voters (95.86 gigs to be exact). Amazing traffic and all that information shared among our neighbors!

Simultaneous Visits

Although we didn’t monitor the site constantly (it just seemed that way!), we did see one peak when there were over 300 people being served live from the site (not including those 90-something percent who were being served the cached pages on our CDN!)

Analytics for Google

Problems We Identified – The RPK WEBSITE

A voter reached out to us on our twitter account to say, “tried looking up my info, got lost on their website. Didn’t work. Want to vote, don’t know where.”

We reached out to him and asked if we could help and if it was OUR site they were having trouble with or RPKs, so we could fix any difficulties he might be having on our site. His response, “@ your site solved the problem. Links to jump back. Find my precinct # and voting location. Thank you.” :)

We had many MANY other contacts with people who couldn’t navigate the “official” site because the drop downs weren’t working, because it was returning 404 errors, or pages were refusing to load at all.

As web designers, we know how to anticipate load and prepare for it in advance, so things work smoothly. It’s unfortunate that the RPK’s site developers didn’t plan ahead, but we are pleased to have been able to help many of those folks as well as the ones that landed on our site first.

Problems with Public Relations

We also answered hundreds of emails (personally) from website visitors. And, even those who originally approached us angry and frustrated, were very kind after we replied and many thanked us for helping them and for volunteering our time to make it possible for them to vote.

One of the many voters that we called by phone to help, said how much she appreciated the effort we put into answering her questions because when she called RPK, they hung up on her. (We were familiar with that, but assumed it only happened to us, not to others.) Other visitors said that they were transferred multiple times and still didn’t get an answer to their questions at the RPK main office. That’s unfortunate. I’m glad they contacted us so we could help.

So, despite the long hours, and the extra load on our already busy work schedule, it was worth every minute we spent helping our neighbors across the Commonwealth. We are, however, disappointed that this type of information and constituent care wasn’t being delivered by the “officials” at RPK.

RPK is Disorganized — and Rude

Initially, I thought that rudeness was just the way they treated us because they didn’t like the fact that we launched a website with caucus information for voters.

It was frustrating to be told that they wouldn’t share information with us when we requested Caucus locations for each county.

It probably should have been flattering to be told that, after seeing our site, they had decided to launch their own website that would “look very much like” our own. You know what they say about imitation…

But to be told that we would have to wait for information (even though they already had that information in hand) until they got around to launching their own site six weeks later, and then to be told we could “go get” that information from their site, was just rude.

Instead of waiting, we started contacting counties, networking with local leadership, and gathering the information ourselves.

Tools Need to be useful

When they did “launch” their site it was difficult to navigate, it was a part of the main RPK site – not a dedicated one, the caucus locations were not well organized (they were merely a downloadable PDF) and was not well-implemented for visitors to use intuitively.

It, unfortunately, was not very much like ours at all.

We took the information and transformed it into individual county pages (120 of them!) to make it easier on our visitors to find their locations. We added an interactive map to access those counties and made sure it was mobile friendly so voters could look up the info on their phones and tablets.

Granted, the RPK site did eventually implement some of the things we had – like links to directions to help people get to their sites and a map — but it was still problematic for many people to use.

When designing a tool for voters to use, RPK should have considered how to make it better for the end user. We wish RPK had considered that.

The RPK didn’t add the caucus to their main calendar on the website until it a few short weeks ago (three if memory serves) and they have yet to add the special elections (which are tomorrow), the Primary, or even the General Election to their calendar.

Manners, Manners

We knew that RPK was not fond of us as KYCaucus.com creators, but it was extremely disappointing to find out that they were treating our fellow Republican voters poorly as well.

One voter told us that they found it amazing that RPK managed to contact them by mail and email to ask for money, but didn’t see fit to use those methods to inform them of the Caucus. We would have to agree.

A postcard campaign would have gone a long way, in our humble opinion, to helping people become more informed — they could have just skipped one of the “give us money” contacts and replaced it with a “here’s what a caucus is, here’s how it works, here’s why we did it, and here’s where you vote” communication.

Advertising would also have been nice, but the leadership announced that they would not be doing any advertising, relying solely on social media to get the word out and that they *hoped* the Presidential campaigns would inform voters. Later they added that the county parties would be charged with getting the word out. That looks a lot like shifting responsibilities to someone else, instead of doing the job of informing your voter and constituent base.

Another problem is: what about all those counties that don’t have active local parties?

What better use, other than voter education, could there possibly have been for the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid by the Presidential Candidates to have a Caucus? How WAS that money spent?

RPK is territorial

Once the RPK had added some caucus information to their website, we were contacted and told to take ours down. We refused. We were told that we couldn’t legally have our website. We knew better (we have been building websites for many years and know a thing or two about such things), and called the representative on it and refused again to take down the site.

The interesting thing is that we are strong, conservative Republicans and we originally launched the site to help RPK and our fellow Republicans. We did it for free, and spent many MANY hours to do so. The only thing we asked of RPK was that they share information. Once the officials at RPK became so ugly toward us, we ignored their ugliness and focused only on helping the voters.

Most organizations would LOVE to have free resources dedicated to helping promote their cause… but not the RPK.

All the work we did, we did because we believed that the voters had a right to be informed. We believe in grassroots efforts and feel that each one of us should use our time and talents to promote action that we believe in.

So, we did just that… as did our visitors.

Missed Opportunities

The Caucus SHOULD have been a golden opportunity for the Republican Party of Kentucky to swell their roles. There has been a renewed interest in the GOP in this state of late, especially notable with the election of Governor Matt Bevin.

The Caucus should have expanded that reach and could have been an opportunity for the state party to reach out, be helpful and connect more with the good people of Kentucky. It should have been a tool for local parties to get organized, spread information about the conservative mission, to promote their local candidates and their upcoming elections and to register more voters to become part of the party.

Caucus training materials provided by RPK didn’t cover how to do that, how to help market the party as a whole, or even the basics of how important it was to thank people for coming to the caucus, to ask them if they are excited to be a part of making history, to encourage them to feel good about being an active member of the party or to remind them about the upcoming special elections and primaries.

We did this with every contact we had with voters through KYCaucus.com.

Yes, this is marketing — but it’s also common sense and good manners. If you throw a party, you should thank people for attending. If people leave their homes to come support your Political Party, you should thank them for being active, and make an effort to encourage that participation to continue.

From what we have seen, and what we have heard from individuals in other counties, little of this happened. We have to wonder how much more positive people in the party would have been toward the party if they had been encouraged a little more.

What Would Have Happened? What Could have been?

The Caucus turnout was good and it exceeded expectations, but would that still have happened without the grassroots effort we saw through massive grassroots participation?

What would have happened:

  • Without the SEO expertise we used to build a site that was easy to find in search?
  • Without all the individuals who visited the site?
  • Without those who connected with us online in social media?
  • Without those who shared the KYCaucus information?
  • Without those who helped us to get people to the site through word-of-mouth?
  • Without those who spoke with us on the phone?
  • Without the emails we sent to answer questions (which included the request for help spread the word about the caucus?)

What if all of us who helped promote this little website had done nothing?  What would the turn out have been then?

And What If:

  • RPK had been more organized?
  • They had spent more time on voter education?
  • Training the local county parties about the Caucus had been a priority?
  • It had been publicized to the local parties that this Caucus was a wonderful, rare opportunity for outreach, growth and to encourage future election participation?
  • They had extended the voting hours to accommodate those who worked on Saturday?
  • All the “regular” precincts had a sign directing the voters who went there to go to the Caucus site?
  • The deadline to request an absentee ballot didn’t cut off before most of the voters even knew there was going to be a Caucus?
  • What if all those who requested an absentee ballot were actually sent one?
  • The absentee ballot had added “I work on Saturday” as a reason for voting absentee since employers were not required to give people time off to Caucus?

How many of the 1,196,183 total Republicans in our state (according to the Kentucky Board of Elections) would have voted on Saturday, March 5th, 2016.

How big COULD the turnout have been?

Thank you!

Thank you to each and every one of you. Together we made a fantastic team — and for each of you who came to the site, who told your neighbors, family and friends about it, who shared Caucus information on social media — take a bow.

YOU did this.

We are honored to have served along side you to help get people out to the Caucus and to keep our neighbors informed!

The Faces Behind KYCaucus.com

Steve Knight and Angela Allen of Cool Jazz Web Design Studio in Danville, Kentucky, launched this website on November 7th, 2015 when there was no Caucus information available on the RPK website or in any centralized location online — and our first EVER Republican Caucus in Kentucky was only four months away.

We immediately started doing what we do best — making the site rank in the search engines and developing a social media campaign so when people were looking for Kentucky Caucus information, this site would come up in the search engines to answer their questions.

We personally answered each question we received prior to the Caucus — as hundreds of visitors can attest! (There were a few with email addresses that contained typos, and those few we could not reach.) We also called people who preferred a phone call to answer their questions. We also developed the Caucus FAQ page to answer the most common questions we received.

The outpouring of support from individuals verbally and by email has been astounding. It warmed our hearts to get emails of thanks, kind words and appreciation — even from those individuals who were, initially, frustrated with the change and the way the Caucus was being handled.

Yes, it took hours and hours each week to serve in this grassroots information campaign, but when RPK announced that they would not be doing any advertising, and when we learned that no postcards were going to be sent out to Republican voters in the state to inform them of the changes this year, we were so thankful we had started this campaign when we did, so it would have the momentum required — prior to Caucus Day — to get people educated!

There have literally been hundreds of thousands of visitors to our little site —  in great part because Kentucky voters helped us share the site and our social media posts to educated and inform others.

The people of Kentucky — the voters — are a wonderful lot and it was worth every minute of time we put in on this to be reminded of how good-hearted and active our neighbors across the Commonwealth really are. It’s been a blessing to us.

Thank you! Thanks to each and every one of you. You guys ROCK and based on the turnout at the Caucus locations, it worked. You worked. Together we all made it work!

About the Caucus

On March 5th, 2016, 10am – 4pm local time, Kentucky will make history by holding our Commonwealth’s first-ever Republican Presidential Caucus. (Be sure that your vote is counted in this year’s Kentucky Caucus — find out where to vote on March 5th.)

Prior to the upcoming Kentucky Caucus, our Commonwealth’s Republican voters selected their candidate for President by voting in a May primary. (There’s still going to be a May 17th primary for other important offices.) This meant many other states had already made their choices for President known, leaving Kentucky to follow (rather than to lead) the nation in these important decisions to elect our Republican Presidential Candidate.

Kentuckians don’t like to follow. This is especially true for Kentuckians who are Republicans.

Our 2016 Republican Presidential Caucus — defined as a meeting of party members to select leadership — is an historic event for Kentucky. It is the first time a Republican Presidential Caucus has ever been held in the Commonwealth.

Republicans are proud to be leading our state to improve our governance and our political process. The GOP’s 2016 Kentucky Caucus is a different approach to selecting our candidate for President than the primaries we have used before — and that other political organizations continue to use.

The Kentucky Caucus means Kentucky’s choice for our 2016 GOP Presidential Candidate will happen earlier and will be more relevant on the national level. This earlier result will influence other states still using the primary method and will, ultimately, give us more say in the outcome of the selection of our Republican Presidential Candidate.

Your vote in the Kentucky caucus will be an important deciding factor, so be sure to get out to your Kentucky Republican Caucus site and VOTE! Visit our events page for other opportunities to vote this year, including upcoming Special Elections, the Primary and the General Election!

17-Year-Olds Can Vote in the Kentucky Caucus!

If you are 17-years-old now, and will be 18 by Election Day (Tuesday, November 8, 2016), you are eligible to vote in the Kentucky Caucus on Saturday, March 5th — but only if you register as a Republican by December 31st, 2015.

To register, you can contact your local county’s Republican Party for instructions or fill out a Kentucky voter registration form here, print it out and mail it to:

State Board of Elections
140 Walnut Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-3236

But, remember, the deadline is December 31, 2015!

Absentee Ballots: Voting If You Will Be Gone on KY Caucus Day

What if you aren’t going to be in the area on Caucus day (#KYCaucus day)? That’s ok, you can still use an absentee ballot for the Caucus. The deadline for requesting your absentee ballot is February 19th, and it must be received no later than March 4th. For more information, see our Kentucky Republican Caucus FAQ Page.

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Where to Vote in Kentucky's Caucus