View Full Version : Just a question about Iowa Caucus

12-21-2007, 12:08 PM
As I understand it the Caucus involves consolidation of voters from candidates with way few votes to the Caucus members second or third choice moving toward a majority for a candidate. So who are the Caucus' members likely second choices? Won't that play heavily in this process?

12-21-2007, 01:15 PM
As I understand it the Caucus involves consolidation of voters from candidates with way few votes to the Caucus members second or third choice moving toward a majority for a candidate. So who are the Caucus' members likely second choices? Won't that play heavily in this process?

This is only for the Democrats.

Only the smaller guys might not be viable. Dodd, Kucinch, Biden maybe. I don't know what the percentage is, and I don't think it's set. Basically, lets say Clinton has 30%, Obama has 28%, Edwards has 26%, Richardson has 10%, and the rest have just a few.

The guy who runs the show will say to the rest, the non-viables, "okay, you have 30 minutes to either get supporters or go with your second choice."

If they all go to Obama, then it would matter. Otherwise they can just not count.

12-21-2007, 01:20 PM
'2nd choice' up for grabs in Iowa race
Obama, Edwards maneuver to win undecided caucus voters, become anti-Clinton candidate
By Rick Pearson and John McCormick | Tribune staff reporters
December 19, 2007
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Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Reprints Text size: DES MOINES - While the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has been the recent focus of the Democratic presidential race, the Illinois senator continues to cast a wary eye toward John Edwards, a veteran of Iowa caucus campaigning.

In recent days, Obama and Edwards have traded mild rebukes to differentiate themselves. Still, their strategies fall along the same lines: to become the singular anti-Clinton candidate, win over undecided Democrats and become the "second choice" among those backing others who won't get enough support on caucus night.

"This, I think, is going to be more of a horse race to the finish among the three horses who have been in the front for quite a while," said Obama adviser David Axelrod, who, ironically, served as a strategist for Edwards four years ago.

Even mild criticism dished out at this stage of the campaign, with little more than two weeks before the Jan. 3 caucuses, represents the tightness of a contest that finds Clinton, Obama and Edwards atop polls in Iowa.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday showed Obama with 33 percent support of likely Iowa caucusgoers, while Clinton had 29 percent and Edwards 20 percent. The poll found, however, that Edwards' backing might be more dependable because he had more support than Obama and Clinton from people who previously attended a caucus.

The gentle sparring between Edwards and Obama started Friday, when Edwards suggested his rival was too conciliatory in his leadership approach for saying he would bring drug and insurance interests "to the table" on plans to expand availability of health care.

By the next morning, Obama responded with a rare mention of Edwards by name and chided his call to cut health-care interests out of negotiations on expanding medical coverage as "just not realistic."

On Monday, Obama mentioned Edwards again, calling him a "good guy," but also suggesting he had not done much to challenge lobbyists while in the Senate. Edwards responded by noting he has never accepted political donations from lobbyists or political action committees, while Obama began such a ban with his presidential bid.

And on Tuesday, during an appearance on NBC's "Today," Edwards said Obama was "dead wrong" about criticism over fighting lobbyists as Edwards pointed to his work to gain passage of the federal Patients' Bill of Rights.

Iowa's 'viability' process

A major factor behind each candidate's criticism is a process unique to Iowa's Democratic caucuses, known as "viability."

On caucus night, in each of the state's 1,781 precincts, a presidential candidate must have the support of at least 15 percent of the people attending that caucus, and sometimes an even greater percentage in the smallest precincts. If they don't reach that threshold, the candidate is ruled non-viable and those supporters are free to back other contenders, try to encourage others to help make their candidate viable, or go with no one at all.

In early polling in Iowa, Edwards scored well as a second-choice candidate, but more recent private polling suggests Obama has cut into that edge.

The former North Carolina senator, who spent a significant amount of time building his campaign in Iowa, still maintains a reservoir of goodwill in a state where he finished second to John Kerry four years ago, after the late collapse of early front-runners Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt.

Edwards also has retained a significant infrastructure to compete with the better-funded Obama and Clinton campaigns. For Edwards, the ground troops are now concentrated on bolstering the second-choice strategy in phone calls and door-to-door canvassing, sources close to the campaign said.

"I believe that we and he are more likely to be second choices. [Clinton is] thoroughly known. She's like the incumbent in the race," Axelrod said.

Courting rural voters

At the same time, both Edwards and Obama are working to mine support from rural Democrats where the populist theme of change used by Edwards and the practical theme of change espoused by Obama are particularly attractive.

While polling has shown those voters more supportive of Edwards, Obama has eroded that base in recent weeks. The Edwards campaign is planning to make return visits to those areas in the closing days.

"I guess the Obama campaign is starting to realize what others have already -- there is growing excitement on the ground for John Edwards as we enter the home stretch," said Chris Kofinis, Edwards' communications director.

Still, a recent tongue-in-cheek comment about where the respective campaigns are headed by Axelrod to reporters raised questions about whether the sparring could lead to a brawl.

"Did we pass his bus on the highway?" Axelrod asked of Edwards' "Main Street Express" campaign bus. "I think ours was headed north and his was headed south."

A reflection of any late momentum toward Edwards might be a viral online video sent to journalists where the former senator apologizes for several of his votes, including supporting the original Iraq war authorization. None of the opposing campaigns claimed credit for it and the Obama campaign denied playing any role.

While the Clinton campaign has not engaged Edwards in recent weeks, it is not blind to the potential threat he poses.

"Edwards is a strong candidate, no question," said one Clinton campaign official. "He has a very strong organization and it's a mistake to underestimate him."