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Friday, January 04, 2008

Hello from Iowa (part 2)

I am sure you have all seen the headlines – the big Democratic turn out, the big Obama win, the big Clinton loss, and the religious right’s single-handed miracle of a Huckabee win – but what happened in Iowa last night holds far more secrets about what is to come than those headlines.

I caucused with the Democrats so I will have to limit my comments to what I saw there, although from my understanding, the Republicans go, pledge, pray, vote, and go again -- home to watch the Orange Bowl (Kansas was playing after all). The Democratic caucus procedure is much more involved, but more on that later.

I felt as if I stepped into a time warp last night as I entered the church/precinct 1 voting center in Muscatine, Iowa, a smallish town on the Mississippi river. 261 democrats showed up to caucus, far more than they were expecting. The planning felt similar to the planning, I imagine, that goes into a Spears’ offspring, but I believe that was because of the sheer numbers. Although we were there to decide something with implications far beyond our small town, it had the feeling of caucusing over the gnawing decision of who should head up the PTA. We were in a large room with one microphone (which few people could hear), the majority of the time was spent attempting to count how many people were there to caucus. Once we managed that debacle, people were asked to separate into groups based on the candidate that they were supporting. Stickers were passed out by precinct leaders and more counting ensued, in order to be a “viable candidate” groups needed to have 15% of the attendants; this by the way was explained to us as “multiply by .15” (our family put our heads together and figured out it was 15%). Our precinct selected 5 delegates for Obama, 3 for Clinton, and 2 for Edwards.

The caucus could not have been more low-tech. It harkened to a time when town hall meetings were not orchestrated events with “don’t tase me, bro” security. The caucus was a decidedly local event. Yes, people here care about the war, but it seems they care more about the neighbor kid down the street that has been deployed in Iraq, than the details of the hows and whys of what got us there. Yes, Iowans care about national issues, but the reason I think Obama won last night, was because he understood the changes people want are not “wedge issues” but “make your life a little better” issues…


Anonymous said...

Go Muskie!

avin said...

I was really happy to see the results on the Dem side (have to be honest, don't care much about who the GOP nominee is, as long as they don't become president).

Will be interesting to see what happens in New Hampshire...will they also have a crush on Obama?