# Caucus Countdown

Caucus Countdown: 6 Days and a three-way tie

In a little more than 30 minutes, Des Moines-based KCCI TV will release their last Iowa caucus poll that will show that Iowa Democrats are equally divided in their support for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama.

Lee Newspapers was also involved in the polling effort (whether through helping pay for it, sponsoring it, etc.) and they published their story online with the numbers earlier today.

“The poll, conducted with 500 likely caucus goers from each party on Wednesday and Thursday, showed Edwards and Obama tied with 29 percent to lead Democrats, followed by Clinton with 28 percent. Bill Richardson was fourth with 7 percent. Joe Biden was fifth with 3 percent. Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich both had 1 percent and 2 percent were undecided.”

The margin of error was +/- 4.5%, clearing showing that Democrats were equally divided.  Among Democrats, 19% still said they are likely or very likely to change their minds.  Keep an eye on Iowa Democrats’ second choices.

In other news, keep your ears open for message testing calls or “push polls.”  Desmoinesdem highlighted her husband’s call here and I just received the same call.  Make sure to check out the Off The Bus site about polling experience if you’ve received any calls.

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Caucus Countdown: 14 Days

We’re officially two weeks out from the Iowa Caucuses now and it is anyone’s guess as to what is going to happen.  We’ve got a variety of polls that say John Edwards might be leading, might not be if you look at the other numbers from the same poll, ABC News/Washington Post says Obama leads, and CNN/Opinion Research Corp. says that it is basically a three-way tie.

In the end it is important to remember, as Jerome says, polling in Iowa is bizarre.  Iowans are fickle, we stay undecided for a long time, and our second choices matter.  But keep in mind the Insider Advantage polling is worth concern simply because of some mathematical and statistical issues.

And finally, as we get closer to the Caucuses, you’re going to be seeing a bunch more ads.  Below the fold are the two new ads from Chris Dodd and Joe Biden.

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Caucus Countdown: 20 Days

How concerned are Iowans about caucus voting?  Like we’ve been talking about over this past week, there has been stupid controversy about college students participating in the Iowa caucuses.  The answer is: YES, as a student in Iowa you can caucus.  Now, the other part of the controversy has been about out-of-state campaign volunteers and staffers who come into Iowa and whether or not they should participate.

Let’s get things clear first.  Iowa law says that if you’ve been a resident for at least 10 days, you can register to vote in Iowa.  That’s the law.  To me, the spirit of the law then, as it would impact the caucuses, is that those who are truly committed to this state and their livelihood here–not simply because of a campaign, but because of school, work, and family–should be one’s caucusing.

Yet somehow, among all of this, the campaigns and the media seem to think that there is going to be a massive influx of volunteers and staffers who are going to do irreparable harm to the caucuses and basically cheat so that one candidate can win.  That’s like thinking that Dennis Kucinich really did see a UFO, and is, in fact, an extraterrestrial himself.

And KCCI here in Des Moines isn’t helping the matter.  Their story, headlined “Iowans Concerned About Caucus Voting: Out-Of State Operatives Flooding Iowa,” is mind-boggling simply because they don’t note a single ordinary Iowan who is concerned about out-of-staters voting.  It is merely an argument between campaigns that has blown up into a political worthless and quite petty tiff that just makes the campaigns look downright juvenile.

There really isn’t any concern among Iowa voters, or the campaigns.  Some candidates just wanted to gain traction and media attention by having other candidates sign their pledge.

Memo to the campaigns: Skip the hysterics, focus on the mobilization of Iowa voters, and play it fair.  It is just that simple.

Caucus Countdown: 22 Days

Sorry tonight’s post is late and the past couple of days have been missing.  Remember way back when, when you had to write research papers and prepare for finals?  Welcome to my life at this point.

Anyway, tomorrow is the final Democratic debate of the season as the Des Moines Register hosts the debate in IPTV studios in Johnston.  Today’s Republican debate was criticized as being pretty tame and uninteresting, so I’m wondering if the Democratic affair will be just the same?

And what will the Republicans think about the questions posed by Carolyn Washburn after it was revealed that she violated Register policies and participated in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary here in Iowa?

Caucus Countdown: 25 Days

Tonight’s gonna be an open thread, simply because I’m exhausted from a weekend of paper writing.

What’s on your mind?  What will the big political stories in Iowa and elsewhere be this week?

Caucus Countdown: 26 Days

Tonight’s topic: What the hell is Fred Thompson thinking?

I just don’t get this.  Thompson is a former member of the United States Senate and he honestly thinks that the National Intelligence Estimate is something to be “suspicious” of?  Sure, so it may have said something different two years ago than it does today.  But I’m pretty sure with our long-term presence in Iraq that even Thompson can admit our intelligence gathering options have to have gotten a bit better in that area, particularly in terms of getting first-hand information.

Then again, maybe I’m just naive.

Caucus Countdown: 27 Days

Today’s topic: What will be the headline story on January 4th?

Imagine it is 8 AM on Friday, January 4th.  Last night were the Iowa precinct caucuses.  What is the headline going to be on the Des Moines Register’s front page?  What will the morning shows and cable networks be talking about?  Will the news coverage have a focus on the Democratic results or the Republican results?

These are all important questions going into the caucuses.  For the Democrats, our presumed front-runners all could easily win the Iowa Caucuses.  That means they all could meet expectations.  And in the news business, your story isn’t newsworthy unless you’re doing worse or better than expectations–or you’ve turned them on their head.

On the Republican side, the story and expectations for the past few months have been that Mitt Romney is going to win the Iowa Caucuses for the Republicans.  Now that Mike Huckabee has surged into the lead, we’ve seen the change in tales coming out of Iowa.

But as Marc Ambinder speculates here this could be a gift or blessing in disguise to Mitt Romney.  If Huckabee’s surge is soft or just heightened by favorable coverage up until this week, a potential tanking and resurgence on caucus day for Mitt Romney entirely changes the story in Iowa (again) and makes Republicans the dominant story out of Iowa.

What does that do to Democrats?  I’m not sure.  I’ve only really paid particular to attention to one caucus and the momentum coming out of it for Kerry pushed him to strong victory in New Hampshire.  And Bush had no opponent, so I can’t gauge the Republicans.

So here’s my question: What will the story be on January 4, 2008?  Will it be an expectations met story?  Or will it be a topsy-turvy story of surprising results from Democrats or Republicans?

Caucus Countdown: 28 Days

Exactly four weeks from today over 150,000 Iowa Democrats will gather in areas across the state to voice their support for their chosen candidate in a field of eight Democrats, six of them seen as serious contenders and candidates.

Today’s topic will be polling.  It seems like there is going to be a new poll for almost every day until we get to January 3rd when one man or woman will finally emerge as a winner.  But a lot of questions remain.  Which polls do you trust?  Which polls do you toss aside like garbage?  Which polls more accurately predict Iowans voting habits than others?  Are the polling outlets partisan?

These are all good questions.  In addition to asking ordinary Iowa bloggers their thoughts about the polls, it is always good to check out the fine folks over at Pollster.com and read their analysis of all of the polls released in the lead up to the caucuses.  Specifically, if you’re interested in tracking the trends and compiled (or specific) poll results, their specific page on the Iowa Democratic Caucuses is quite worthwhile.

But if you ask me, the most reliable and accurate polling done in Iowa is usually done by Selzer and Co., the folks who do the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll.  You can find the poll’s homepage here on the Register’s site.  Past articles about the most recent polling highlight things like methodology and other information garnered from the polling.

One of the most intriguing results I’ve noticed from the last poll (and Yepsen noticed it too) is that about half of Democrats and over 60% of Republicans say they could still be persuaded to change their mind.  Coincidently enough, I’m probably one of those people.  I’ve got two candidates that I support but every day that I think I’ve picked one I feel like I might go back towards the other.  So I’m pretty sure that once I pick one candidate I could easily be persuaded to go back to another.

To me, that is emblematic of Iowans’ fickle-ness, which definitely isn’t a bad thing.  It means that many of us are still listening and haven’t isolated ourselves off for one particular candidate already.  While that makes the individual campaigns’ jobs harder it means that negative ads, events, and issues still matter.

And truly, if polling isn’t telling the accurate story (or so you think), get out there and work harder for the candidate or issue you’re caucusing for.  I know it is the holiday season but as Iowans we’re privileged to have this role of first-in-the-nation.  And by God let’s use it.

Caucus Countdown: 29 Days

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a timely post for my “daily” caucus countdown feature, but this will be a quick post with more detailed ones to come over time.

Who are you caucusing for?  And why (as simply put as possible, please)?  Finally, if for some reason your candidate isn’t viable, who would your second choice be?

I asked this question over at my site and I’m hoping that a broader audience here at BH will give me a greater idea and provoke some good discussion.

Caucus Countdown: 30 Days

I’m going to try and start a new feature that will bring about a daily post specifically about the Iowa Precinct Caucuses, which are now only 30 days away.

As a history primer, I recommend checking out Hugh Winebrenner’s quick piece on the the history of the caucuses that he wrote for IowaPolitics.com.

And how do you caucus?  First of all, check out desmoinesdem’s post series (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) on how the caucuses work.  Secondly, check out the IDP’s FAQs on the caucuses.

And finally, some of the campaigns and groups have started making videos on how to caucus.  Check them out below the fold.

Let me know if you have thoughts on more daily features and things you want to see in the comments.

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