All (Hawk)Eyes on Iowa

One week from today, the Iowa Caucuses occur.  After the smoke clears, you will have actual results as opposed to public opinion polls.

I am not supporting any candidate publicly and won’t make any predictions.  Nor am I about to give a candidate advice other than exercise every day and read lots of books on diverse subjects.  And get as many focused, experienced people on your team as you can. 

My own experience with caucuses was the 1992 Democratic Presidential caucuses in Virginia.  Bill Clinton was going head-to-head with Jerry Brown, the last opponent standing after Super Tuesday.  Brown headed to Virginia as a last gasp to head off a Clinton nomination.  I was a law student at UVA organizing for Clinton. 

The caucus took place on a Saturday morning at a local school.  Brown had been campaigning aggressively in C’ville that week, which (like all college towns) was friendly to his liberal, anti-establishment message, and sure enough he had a solid lead in the initial tally. 

We caught him on the second round.  When the Tsongas and Harkin voters were released after the first round (when they failed to get the 15% minimum), the Clinton team swooped in to be the “second choice.”  In some cases, our volunteers literally blocked the aisles. 

Most decided to go with us.  It wasn’t a policy decision so much as it was easier to say “yes” than say “no” to our organizers.  The Brown folks simply did not pursue the other voters.  Perhaps they thought they’d already won. 

On the second vote, we had pulled ahead 83-82 which permitted Clinton’s Charlottesville team a one-Delegate advantage (15-14) to the 5th Congressional District Convention.   Brown was defeated all over the state.  Shortly thereafter, he dropped out of the race.     

At the district convention in Campbell County, most of the Brown Delegates didn’t show.  So Brown’s team failed to meet the 15% threshold to send a delegate to the national convention (which was their main goal).  A lot of unhappiness with that fact.  The best line heard that day:  “Is this Democracy?”  “No, it’s Virginia.” 

The whole experience was strange, almost surreal.  It was not a popularity contest, as Brown was surely more popular than Clinton in C’ville on that day.  We simply won because we knew the caucus rules.

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