I haven’t made up my mind, but I’m really leaning towards Edwards. I like his healthcare plan, and I like that he really likes to fight corporate greed. The shit that I hate (MPAA politics, RIAA law suits, MS monopolistic practices) all come down to reining in corporate greed.
Lately the polls have been showing a sudden improvement in Edwards’ polling numbers in Iowa. Iowa, as we learned in the Dean campaign, isn’t about numbers. It isn’t a vote, it’s a caucus. People gather at their municipal hall or somesuch. There are multiple rounds of voting, at each round candidates are eliminated and those supporters can change their votes to the remaining candidates. Supporters of the surviving candidates run around and try to negotiate with people to switch to their candidate. There is a lot of horse-trading and shenanigans. Four years ago Dean lost a lot of caucus votes because other candidates’ supporters told them things like, “hey, if you vote for my guy in this round I promise to vote for Dean in the next round!” It can sound reasonable in the heat of the moment, but they were tricked... Dean was out by the next round. Conclusion: To win in Iowa, you need to send your supporters to training camps so they know how to negotiate. Some candidates have the $ to run these camps, others don’t.
Interestingly enough, a recent NY Times article began as follows:
In summary: Edwards was looking for people that knew how to caucus, Clinton and Obama were looking for people that were ignorant about caucuses.
Senator Barack Obama is on the hunt for Iowans who have never participated in the state’s presidential caucuses, including independent voters under 50 and students who will be 18 by the general election.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is searching for Iowans who have skipped the caucuses in the past and who, because of age, sex or other characteristics, seem likely to support her, starting with independent women over 65 or under 30.
John Edwards is taking a more traditional approach, working through the official list of Democrats who showed up to choose a candidate in 2004, as his campaign tries to ensure that it has the name of every likely voter who might be on his side when Iowans gather in 1,781 precinct caucuses across the state on Thursday night.
I wonder if the author was accurate there. Was he just adding a little fiction to make the article have a colorful opening, was he reporting on what he saw going on with the limited view a reporter can get, or were these the highly accurate reporting of someone that has insider knowledge about the campaign’s ground strategy? If these were very accurate, then Edwards might pull out a surprise victory because he was identifying the people with real experience, and Obama is spending energy looking for people that will be duped like Dean’s folks were. (I’m more akin to think that the reporter was fictionalizing or basing this on casual conversations with volunteers)
As a manager there are 2 rules I have: (1) 90% of victory is “building the right team”, (2) When I need to assure success, I get people with experience. I lectured about this at LISA2007, if you are reforming a IT department that has failed, first hire senior people with experience to get the ball rolling, then fill in with less experienced people when you have the luxury to be able to experiment and possibly do things wrong the first time then improve. In an election, there is no second chance.
This brings me to this paragraph:
Mrs. Clinton is banking on Teresa Vilmain, who has worked in Iowa presidential caucuses for over 20 years, and Ms. Hicks, a former national field director for the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have similarly respected operatives running their caucus operation, including David Plouffe and Steve Hildebrand for Mr. Obama. Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is running Mr. Edwards’s Iowa campaign for a second time.Clinton: hired someone with 20 years of Iowa experience, Obama & Edwards hired people with not as much experience, but Edwards brought someone in that did his Iowa campaign last year, so she does have the “second chance” to make things right. She came in 2nd place in 2004. (Kerry: 38%; Edwards: 32%; Dean: 18%). Of course, Edwards also has Joe Trippi who didn’t run his Iowa campaign, but did run someone else’s Iowa many years ago.
The article, however, points out that Obama and Clinton are using sophisticated datamining techniques to identify voters better, and the Clinton campaign smartly recognized that Iowans get so many phone calls that they get frustrated. Thus, they are doing multiple personal visits to likely voters. Also, since “research conducted by her campaign found that many Iowans who supported Mrs. Clinton but had never caucused before found the process intimidating or baffling, her aides showed up at the homes of those voters with DVD’s that explained how the caucuses work.” That’s pretty smart.
If Clinton doesn’t come in 1st place in Iowa I can make one prediction: I believe that even though a lot of Democrats love Hillary, it is weak support: they support her because they feel that she’s the front runner. It’s the “nothing generates a crowd like a crowd” phenomenon. Thus, if someone else wins double-digits more than Clinton, all that weak support will move away to that other candidate.
Update: Fixed a typo (Thanks, Josh!)