Friday, January 16, 2004
The Real Iowa Number
In a caucus state this is doubly true. The real number, the only number with real meaning, is how many bodies you can get into the building on caucus night.
Consider. Iowa is a state of 3 million people. Back in 2000, only about 70,000 turned out for the Democratic caucuses. (There was a competitive Republican race.) Perhaps, twice that number will show up this time.
So how many can the Dean Team turn out? Well, consider the fact we have about 3,500 people in from out-of-state this weekend. Let's be conservative and figure there are another 500 Iowa-bred Deaniacs. Add another 1,000 who are part of Senator Harkin's "organization." That's 5,000 people.
Now if each of those 5,000 people can somehow persuade 10 people to get to the caucus, we've got 50,000 bodies caucus night, spread out among about 2,000 caucus locations, about 25 per location.
That's a minimum. I haven't counted the feminists who planned to go with Mosely Braun, I haven't counted our friends with AFSCME or SEIU (the two most politically-adept unions in the AFL-CIO, by all reports), I haven't counted anyone who might be persuaded by Ann Richards, Bruce Babbitt, by Chip Carter, by Chip's dad, by our ads, by the O-blog, by anything else. I haven't counted on Kucinich or Sharpton or Clark supporters who might move to us because their candidate isn't viable on the first pass. (If your candidate doesn't get 15% when the groups separate and count off, you have to go somewhere else.)
I think 50,000 is a pretty hard count. If Kerry can beat that, if Gephardt can beat that, if Edwards can beat that, with their "momentum" and their "polls" and the people they have on the ground, they deserve the victory.
I think that's what the next few days will be about. Can they beat our number? Can we increase it? Not only don't polls matter, but votes don't matter. It's the number of people who stand for you in the room that matters. That takes passion, it takes support, and sometimes (if you're naturally shy) it takes courage.
I'm perfectly content to let chips fall where they may. I think we have what it takes. But for gosh sakes don't rest. Make me look like the pessimist I am....