DES MOINES -- The Democratic presidential candidates each get 10 minutes this Saturday to make an unfiltered case to 9,000 Democratic activists at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner here in Des Moines.
And they get another hour and a half at the Des Moines Register's debate in December.
The "JJ" dinner changes minds; it seeded the ground for a John Kerry comeback in late 2003.
The debate changes minds -- and most everyone who caucuses will probably be watching the DMR debate.
The rest -- eight candidates running television ads sandwiched between i-Phone commercials and after Christmas sales, and even candidate events -- it's fairly marginal.
The real work is going on behind the scenes. The campaigns are tracking their "1"s -- those supporters who have promised to caucus. (The campaigns have a separate category for "1"s who have caucused before -- they're Super "1s"). They're crunching data and modeling GOTV scenarios to find "2"s -- those Democrats who say they're leaning in one direction or the other.
Each team has an Iowa superstar: Jennifer O'Malley (Edwards), Teresa Vilmain (Clinton), and John Norris (Obama) are probably the best Democratic field organizers on the face of the planet.
Who has the most "1"s right now? Probably John Edwards, whose Iowa team, in many ways, never really disbanded.
Who has the largest organization? Barack Obama, although Hillary Clinton is a close second.
In total, the Democrats can argue that by the sheer act of campaigning, they've created hundreds of jobs in Iowa. Temporary jobs, that.
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