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Sweet column: Snow shovels, child care, rides: Rival Dems concierge services to get out their vote.

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(December 30, 2007 Sunday Final Edition sorry, server problems delayed posting)


DES MOINES, IOWA--At dusk Thursday, in an annex of Hillary Rodham Clinton's main Iowa campaign headquarters, dozens of operatives formed a chain loading snow shovels and boxes filled with election materials and T-shirts for precinct captains onto a fleet of rented U-Haul trucks.

The Clinton campaign is leaving nothing to chance in turning out the caucus vote for the New York senator on Thursday. And if it snows (the forecast now is "mostly sunny"), the campaign expects its volunteers to wield shovels if that's what it takes to get Clinton supporters to their neighborhood caucus.


If a Clinton backer needs a ride, child care or even a buddy to help navigate the caucus process, the Clinton campaign will provide it.

For months, the campaigns of the deadlocked front-running Democratic rivals, Clinton, Sen.
Enhanced Coverage LinkingClinton, Sen. -Search using:
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Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards,Enhanced Coverage LinkingSen. John Edwards, -Search using:
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have been building formidable data-driven operations to identify their targets with one goal: delivering their supporters to their local caucus site by 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 3.

Their operations dwarf those of the other five Democratic candidates. Like the Clinton campaign, the Obama and Edwards teams will supply baby-sitters and rides to get backers to Iowa's 1,781 precincts. The contenders themselves plan New Year's Eve blitzes.

Think of it as 1,781 individual elections. Each precinct can elect only a set number of delegates, no matter how many show up to vote.

Break won't hurt Obama

On Saturday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.); Michelle Obama's mother, Marion Robinson; and about 50 others boarded a bus in Kenwood -- down the block from the Obamas' Chicago home -- and rode to Cedar Rapids to canvass. "We're knocking on doors," Schakowsky said.

In Des Moines, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) visited with undecided voters and activists. Today, he will visit African-American churches to help whip up turnout for Obama.

Clinton may have an advantage there because her base voters -- older women -- are in every precinct. Bad weather will hurt her the most because it may keep her seniors home.

That college students -- Obama's strength -- will be at their parents' homes on holiday break Thursday helps, not hurts, Obama since supermajorities in college towns won't run up the delegate totals.

It's better to have your supporters scattered throughout the state. Obama and Clinton expect to attract people who have never attended a caucus. They have been training voters on what to expect, since it is a public process, not a secret ballot.

"You have to be maniacal about having every one of your voters turn out," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said Friday.

That's because the Democratic winner could be determined by a relatively small number of voters. About 124,000 Democrats participated in 2004, and the top turnout projection is 175,000. In precincts with small turnouts, as few as four or five people can provide the winning margin.

Obama's campaign is an extension of his days as a community organizer, albeit on a grand scale. As the campaign heads into the homestretch, Obama at every stop holds up or refers to a yellow "Ticket to Change" card with a phone number to call to find a caucus location.

Many still on the fence

"It is pretty clear there are still a lot of voters out there who are undecided or supporting others softly," Plouffe said. As many as 40 percent are still up for grabs or may switch.

Thirty minutes after the 6:30 p.m. start of the caucus, a vote is taken to determine if a candidate meets the 15 percent viability threshold. If eliminated, their supporters then pick a second choice when the caucus realigns.

There is a more subtle campaign going on among the big three to be the second choice of supporters of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), who presumably may fail viability tests in many precincts.


first edition version....

Campaigns get ready for some heavy lifting
JAN. 3 | Top 3 Dems to offer rides, child care for voters

December 30, 2007
LYNN SWEET blogs.suntimes.com/sweet
DES MOINES -- At dusk Thursday, in an annex of Hillary Rodham Clinton's main Iowa campaign headquarters, dozens of operatives formed a chain loading snow shovels and boxes filled with election materials and T-shirts for precinct captains onto a fleet of rented U-Haul trucks.

The Clinton campaign is leaving nothing to chance in turning out the caucus vote for the New York senator on Thursday. And if it snows, the campaign expects its volunteers to wield shovels if that's what it takes to bring Clinton supporters to their neighborhood caucus.

» Click to enlarge image Barack Obama campaign workers at his Des Moines headquarters focus Friday on voter turnout for the Jan. 3 caucuses.
(Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times)

RELATED STORIESObama pitches undecided voters Early 2008 primaries The numbers GOP rivals tour Iowa, stress differences on immigration
If a Clinton backer needs a ride, child care, or even a buddy to help navigate the caucus process, the Clinton campaign will provide it.

For months, the campaigns of the deadlocked front-running Democratic rivals, Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards have been building formidable data-driven operations to identify their targets with one goal: delivering their supporters to their local caucus site by 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 3.

Their operations dwarf those of the other five Democratic candidates.

Like the Clinton campaign, the Obama and Edwards teams will make sure there are baby-sitters and rides available on caucus night deployed to work each of Iowa's 1,781 precincts.

Think of it as 1,781 individual elections. Each precinct can elect only a set number of delegates, no matter how many people show up to vote. A candidate needs support spread throughout the state to win.

Break won't hurt Obama
Clinton may have an advantage there because her base vote -- women -- are in every precinct.

That college students --Obama's strength -- will be at their parents' homes on holiday break Jan. 3 helps, not hurts, Obama since supermajorities in college towns won't run up the delegate totals. It's better to have your supporters scattered throughout the state.

Obama and Clinton expect to attract people who have never attended a caucus, which means they have been doing a lot of training on what to expect, since it is a public process, not just casting a ballot in a booth.

"You have to be maniacal about having every one of your voters turn out," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe on Friday.

That's because the Democratic winner could be determined by a relatively small number of voters. About 124,000 Democrats participated in 2004, and the top turnout projection is 175,000.

In small turnout precincts, as few as four or five people can provide the winning margin.

Many still on the fence
Obama's campaign is an extension of his days of community organizer, albeit on a grand scale. As the campaign heads into the homestretch, Obama at every stop holds up or refers to the yellow card his campaign is handing out; it has a phone number to call so a person can locate where to go to vote.

"It is pretty clear there are still a lot of voters out there who are undecided or supporting others softly," Plouffe said.

As many as 40 percent are still up for grabs or may switch.

Thirty minutes after the 6:30 p.m. start of the caucus, a vote is taken to determine if a candidate meets the 15 percent viability threshold. If eliminated, their supporters then pick a second choice when the caucus re-aligns.

There is a more subtle campaign going on among the big three to be the second choice of supporters of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) who presumably may fail precinct viability tests.

Edwards plans a 36-hour day/night blitz before the vote; Obama will fly around the state on Tuesday through Thursday to hit the major media markets. On Sunday morning, Obama or his surrogates will whip up turnout at African-American and United Church of Christ (his denomination) churches.





1 Comment

This day and age more and more people are using a personal concierge to “buy back” their precious time. A personal concierge works on the most basic of premise: people want things done and just don't have the time to do them.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 31, 2007 10:39 AM.

Sweet: New Obama spot, "Hope." was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. stumps for Obama. "All we got to do is believe," Jackson Jr. says. Clinton, Obama fight for Des Moines black vote is the next entry in this blog.

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