If Hillary wins Iowa

and anyone asks me how she did it, I will point them to this recent article in the New York Times. Yes, Hillary’s got a lot of advantages: she raised a ton of money, she’s hired a huge Iowa staff (approximately 400 people), she’s got a former two-term governor and former two-term president campaigning for her.

But there are smart ways and dumb ways to spend money. Reading this article, I was impressed with some of her campaign’s tactics.

We Iowans joke about how there’s always a presidential candidate willing to pour us coffee, take out the trash and shovel our snow. But Hillary’s precinct captains really are going to shovel snow for her supporters:

Mrs. Clinton’s office here is filled with hundreds of new green snow shovels that were being strategically distributed on Saturday to precinct captains to clear the walks of older women who might be particularly wary of going out to the caucuses in bad weather. The campaign has printed doorknob hangers with caucus locations printed in extra-large type, also to accommodate these older first-time caucusers.

The article talks about microtargeting methods that both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have been using. That’s not surprising, but I thought this was truly a master stroke:

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, in the first mailing to first-time caucusgoers who pledge to support her, includes porcelain lapel pins identifying them as Clinton supporters. Mrs. Clinton looks for women wearing those pins at her events and praises them for caucusing for the first time.

What a great idea. A lot of women will wear that lapel pin, and it’s an easy way for Hillary to spot first-time caucus-goers in a crowd. I would think that once someone has been singled out and thanked by Hillary, she would feel an extra obligation to show up on caucus night.

It is not easy to turn out thousands of people who have never caucused before. Hillary’s not my first, second or third choice, but if she can pull this off, her campaign deserves a lot of credit.

The article also alludes to Clinton campaign plans to have caterers bring food to serve to her supporters at pre-caucus parties on the caucus sites. Nate Willems suggested that was treading close to the vote-buying line and sparked an interesting discussion at MyDD tonight.

Finally, a quick question for Bleeding Heartland readers. The NY Times article quotes Michael Whouley, who came to Iowa last time to help with John Kerry’s field operation. It identified him as “a veteran Iowa caucus organizer, who is supporting Mrs. Clinton but is one of the few major Democratic strategists who have not come to Iowa for this fight.”

I thought I heard somewhere that Whouley was in Iowa to help the Clinton campaign. Anyone know if he’s been here?

UPDATE: Another thing money can buy is two minutes of television during the 6 pm newscasts in Iowa. Here is her final pitch. I think it hits the themes she needs to emphasize, but I am not convinced it will bring over a lot of undecided voters:

  • If Hillary wins, it will be because of John Edwards' help.

    If anyone asks me how she did it, I will point them to the youtube video of her and John Edwards talking at the end of the NAACP debate, after getting beaten up by Kucinich and Gravel for their support for the war in Iraq. John Edwards was recorded via a mic that wasn’t turned off, talking to Hillary Clinton about their people working together to get candidates thrown out of upcoming elections.

    If Hillary wins, it will be, in part, because John Edwards is has gone soft and genial on her, as opposed to Obama… he appears to be effectively in kahoots with her, trying to work with her to marginalize and disenfranchise other candidates, effectively splitting the progressive vote in exchange for the VP nod.

    And, indeed, the two apparently managed to influence the debate organizers and get Mike Gravel kicked out of the Des Moines debate based on a last minute technicality. The same organizers were treated to cocktails by Bill Clinton and aggressively courted for three weeks in order to secure their endorsement for Hillary.

    No wonder Kucinich just told his Iowa voters to support Obama as their second choice, despite the fact that he chose Edwards in 2004. Apparently Kucinich feels that Obama is the only other candidate who can bring about change. (Perhaps he has reason to believe that Edwards will lead to more of the same?!)

    • weird analysis

      I could just as easily argue that Hillary and Edwards, by splitting the over-50 voters, are both helping Obama.

      Kucinich has no supporters to send to anyone. I have a bunch of friends who caucused for him last time. They haven’t seriously considered him all year, because he hasn’t been running a serious campaign. If you want to be in a debate and the requirement is that you have an office in Iowa, open an office somewhere. Pretty simple.

  • a bit off-topic but...

    What do Republicans and independents have to do (other than show up) in order to participate in the caucus?  Do they have to sign a registration card changing their registration to Dem?  Do they have to pledge to support the Dem party in the 2008 election?

    Chris Bowers is saying that, across the country, independents should have to register or otherwise self-identify as Dem in order to be part of the nomination process.  I tend to agree.

    • Yes

      To participate in the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses, you must register with the party. If you caucus for a candidate, you are effectively making a public pledge to support that candidate. But that doesn’t stop anyone from re-registering the next day with the Republican party or no party.

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