Caucuses make far greater demands of voters than primary elections, which usually only require the pull of a lever or push of a button to cast a ballot. On Jan. 3, Iowa caucus-goers will need to travel to their precincts, possibly through a snowstorm. Then, they will engage in a multiround process of public negotiation and cajoling with friends and neighbors –unlike the Republicans, who can keep their votes private — that may last more than two hours.
How many people decide to make that commitment will depend on variables such as the weather and the participants’ level of excitement about their choices.
The Democratic candidates are deploying unprecedented resources to ensure that Iowans turn out — and champion their cause once the voting begins. The campaigns of Illinois Senator Obama, 46, and New York Senator Clinton, 60, have each fielded at least 300 paid staffers — and many more volunteers — to fan out across the state.
As in all Iowa’s 99 counties, the votes in the Democratic stronghold of Boone remain up for grabs. To get an edge, the campaigns of the three leading Democrats have added their own arsenal of tactics to the standard campaign techniques of phone calls, mailings and door-to-door canvassing.
This is what it takes to win Iowa, and if your candidate isn’t doing something similar they’ll have very little chance of placing better than 4th.