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Friday, January 16, 2004


The Real Iowa Number

posted by Dana at Friday, January 16, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The oldest adage in politics is "polls don't count."

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....


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.