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Notes on the 2008 Iowa caucuses

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I have copied the following from an e-mail message sent by a friend since graduate school, Robert Givens, professor of history at Cornell College, Iowa
January 6, 2008

This will seem like old news but here are some impressions from caucus night.  I have attended four of these over the years and I have never seen a crowd the size of the one that packed into Shimek elementary school (our caucus site) on Wednesday evening.  One of the features of this process that I forgot to mention when we last spoke was that a candidate has to have at least 15% of the total to remain viable.  Much to my surprise the Clinton forces were below this number.  True, I live in a fairly liberal precinct, but I was very surprised that after all the time and money that Hillary devoted to the caucus process, she could not garner the minimum number of supporters – at least at first.  There is a regrouping process that takes place after the first ballot, and the Clinton supporters were viable after that.  Despite the fact that they were about 45% of the overall total, the Obama forces got 4 out of 10 delegates, with Clinton, Edwards, and Richardson getting 2 each. 

As I watch the New Hampshire race turn in Obama’s favor I am not too surprised.  I did think that Hillary did well in the debate last night, but all the commentators claim that Obama did better.  He certainly created a movement with a lot of energy here; perhaps he will do the same in New Hampshire.  Perhaps Democrats and some independents are so sick of Bush that they want a candidate who will be swept into the White House.