Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A couple of 'crats on caucus eve

I wouldn't necessarily say that Bill Clinton is the one drawing the crowds at Hillary's recent appearances. It probably doesn't hurt that he was elected president twice, but there are die hard fans out there that truly admire Hillary. After all, she's supposed to be the most admired woman in America according to this here call script.
I wouldn't say that Hillary acts like royalty, either. Hillary made a ten minute appearance at the Iowa Historical Museum right next to the state capitol building in downtown Des Moines the night before the caucus. Obama opted for Hoover High School. I'm not saying that that says anything about the candidates themselves, I'm just saying they both have an image to maintain.

Iowa Caucus Final Stretch - Democrat

Sen. Hillary Clinton - Clinton's performance in Iowa has been unimpressive and lacks the intimacy of her Democratic competitors. There is no shortage of love from hardliner Bill Clinton fans, and questions arise over whether crowds are appearing for her or for her husband. Plants inside her campaign report a coldness. Her scripts and polling processes are the most calculated and her appearances are designed to create a media frenzy. Her New Year's bash was a fizzle as she refused to appear for the anticipated New Year's kiss with husband Bill. She acts like royalty - entitled - ready to take on a pre-ordained duty. On the other hand she has tremendous support from the party base - love from the powerful East Coast Press and sophisticated mechanisms to run a political machine.

Sen. Barrack Obama - Looking Presidential. Obama's looking good coming in the final stretch - looks much more polished and gaining momentum with the revisions in his oral message. His headquarters is filled with vibrant young people who are executing a political ground war effectively. Obama's path to politics involves work as a community organizer divided by years studying at Harvard Law. How his message plays to white middle class America and his capacity to bring young people to the polls is the "make or break" question.

Sen. John Edwards
- Edwards is experienced with Iowa voters. He has a lot of help from the 527's who are working hard to carry his message. Unions love him but his base has failed to grow. A last minute pissing match between Obama and Clinton could help Edwards slide into a higher rank. Many of Edward's messages and campain innovations were swallowed up by his competitors. If Edwards can pull a rabit out of a hat, tonight could change everything as John Cougal Mellencamp plays to an over-capacity crowd for him in Des Moines.

*******Wild Card********
The Iowa Democrats have an interesting way of doing things. Here's a summary: Everyone stands against a wall under the banner of their candidate. Undecided voters stand in the middle. Any candidate with under 15% of the crowd has to go to the middle. This is where negotiation begins as caucus goers can choose another candidate.
Negotiation and power plays including delegate assignments, platform promotion and in rural Iowa, even good old fashion chocolate chip cookies can be used to seduce caucus goers to stand behind their politico of choice. Late tonight we'll give a play by play of second tier candidates and who they're telling supporters to support if they can't win.

Iowa Caucus Final Stretch - Republican

The big guns are coming's a view from the ground.

Gov. Mike Huckabee
- Huckabee came back to his message last night accompanied by Chuck Norris, firmly planting himself with his social conservative base, encompassed vividly with the families volunteering for his campaign on the third floor headquarters in downtown Des Moines. A battle call to end the Internal Revenue Service raised crowds into a roar.
Cash on hand is a limiting factor and as KY3 reporter David Catonese points out - organization means a lot. To Huckabee's advantage - his message is attractive to a demographic that likes to vote. Huckabee's greatest tactical disadvantage is a lack of men on the street. He's the only top tier candidate that isn't sending foot soldiers out to canvas houses. On the other hand - the Des Moines Register called Huckabee the winner in their final poll Wednesday. Everyone wants to be on the side of a winner which could help tilt things in his direction.

Gov. Mitt Romney - Romney's "Football with Families" tour yesterday was a hit for the press coming into the final stretch. Romney's family spent the day in four homes in the Des Moines area to have an intimate meeting with small groups and a massive press presence. Romney has the cash and campaign insiders note a dedicated base. Down the road, religion could be a problem. The Social Conservative base could be blinded by the messages and criticism of the deeper doctrine of his faith - huge problem if anti-Mormon preachers take politics to the pulpit during the next 46 Sundays. Romney's answer, "It was the religion of my father" - which is important as it sheds light on a time when his father and former Governor of Michigan found his religous beliefs as a non-factor representing a time hard to remember - a time when economic policies dominated Repbublican rhetoric.

Sen. John McCain - Veterans love this guy. He speaks of victory in Iraq and is the most qualified to speak about defense having served his country in Vietnam and 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. McCain can pull votes from moderate Democrats- an important component for forward thinking members of the party faithful. His experience and heart cannot be questioned but the question remains, "What do people think when their alone with no one looking - curtains closed at the polls?"

Alan Keys - If we were in most any other state Keys would fall off the usefull part of the reverse pyramid - but this is Iowa. Keys is a charismatic Black Repulican who uses the traditional race-based left wing verbage to push an economic policy intertwined with radically religious overtones. During the last Iowa Caucus Keys ranked third with a message of "revival". Keyscalls Internal Revenue Service policies the "Slave Tax" and says America needs an "Abolitionist."

Rep. Ron Paul
- Paul begs the question, "Can a candidate flower from grass roots?" Paul's handicap is similar to the ethnic and religious bias that candidates must face. On the Republican side Paul takes major hits for his Libertarian leanings. Although each and every candidate mentions the Constitution - Paul is the most serious about it. He's revived a turn of the century economic platform focused on states rights - eliminating the IRS and participation with international organizations that could impede our sovereignty - young people love it. Even with "love from America's youth" the reality is young people tend not to vote.
Leaving the polls and the vote tally behind Paul made politics exciting to many Des Moines residents that would otherwise be left our of the process. Paul brings exciting dialogue to the public forum and contributes positively to the tradition of open discussion and debate - in this regard - he can't lose no matter what small percentage he wins. On the other hand, recent fundraising moves and fiscal responsibility within his staff could prove a weapon of political construction unseen in the last nine decades of American politics.

Inside the Clinton Campaign- Des Moines

I've been working as a volunteer in the clinton campaign for the past few days making phone calls, canvassing, and checking messages. I was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement when I first went in to volunteer. There weren't any copies available and the person that I checked in with wasn't sure what to do with the agreement once I signed it, and it hasn't come up since.

She put me to work making calls to people in Des Moines. The first script I was given didn't go over very well with the folks on my call list. It was too long, and people were getting impatient. Some would cut me off, even supporters would stop me before I could finish.

I made more phone calls on the second day, but this time the script was way better. We were inviting people to an event on new year's eve where Hillary and Bill Clinton were to make an appearance.

Some people were really excited to have been invited, which was almost funny because the event was open to anyone and free of charge. A lot of people wondered if they could bring other people with them, and how much it would cost.

With the second script I had fewer negative responses and hang-ups.

One woman stopped me right in the middle of my little speech and said "You have got to be kidding me, I will never vote for Hillary."

A second angry call was an answering-machine response that said, "Nobody here would ever vote for Hillary."

Those were the only negative responses I recall.

I wonder how many phone calls that guy received before he decided to let the answering machine do the talking.

So, some people are getting annoyed with these phone calls, but we've got to keep doing it. We're not just trying to persuade people, we're trying to figure out where everybody stands. Each person we call receives a code based on the candidate they're leaning toward and how certain they are that they'll caucus for that candidate. If they have a second choice, we record that, too.

The next day I went canvassing at 9:30 a.m., but didn't get very far before they called me back in. I was assigned to one of the precincts in downtown Des Moines, so I didn't have to drive far from the office.

We were knocking on the doors of people who told us that they would be caucusing for Hillary to confirm that they were still able to go. Only one person was actually home, and she came to the door just long enough to say that she didn't want to talk.

Some people had better luck canvassing, though. I heard that one volunteer was able to speak to 58% of the people on their walk list, which is pretty impressive.

(Clinton campaign phone script and coding sheet)