On the steps leading to the auditorium stage, Mark Skogerboe and Mark Heuring scrunched on their knees and counted the Republican presidential votes at Mounds View High School for New Brighton, Precinct One.
There were 73 people signed up to vote, but not enough ballots. "It's a good sign when you run out of ballots," said Sko-gerboe, as a volunteer quickly made more ballots by hand.
The counting began.
"Santorum, Santorum, San-torum," said Heuring, counting the small white sheets of paper one by one.
"I think birds of a feather sit together," joked Skogerboe.
In the end, the vote was close: Rick Santorum 27, Ron Paul 25, Mitt Romney 12, Newt Gingrich 7 and one write-in for Herman Cain.
MIKE KASZUBADFL sounds off
With no suspense in their straw poll, DFL caucusgoers in St Paul approved a raft of resolutions: They opposed voter ID requirements, supported the right to gay marriage and opposed public subsidies for a new Vikings football stadium.
"I don't want to pay for a new stadium," said Scott Larson, after his precinct approved a resolution against stadium construction funding.
JENNIFER BROOKSIn defense of Mitt
Mitt Romney won Edina's Precinct 14 easily, perhaps because former state Attorney General candidate Chris Barden was there to assure waverers that Romney was indeed conservative enough.
Barden, a lawyer who ran in 2010 and lost, told caucusgoers that he knew both Romney and President Obama when he went to Harvard law school in the early '90s. "I went to law school with Mr. Obama and I've been warning people about him ever since," Barden said.
One man asked, "Do you think he [Romney] will remain conservative?" Barden replied: "He will definitely repeal Obamacare."
The 21 caucusgoers handed Romney 57 percent -- 12 votes. Paul followed with four votes, Santorum with three. Gingrich got two.