Barack Obama's presidential campaign is turning to seasoned veterans of the Iowa caucus process to help school newcomers in the caucuses' arcane mathematics.
The campaign calls these folks "Caucus Pros." 73 so far have been recruited to teach new caucus goers "of all ages," an Obama press release states.
The Obama's campaign turnout model incorporates large numbers of Democratic leaning independents who have never caucused and young voters who have never voted in a presidential race.
We'll deal with independents at some other point, but just how many young caucus goers will actually show up on January 3?
Here are some arguments, pro-and-con.
Pro: Yes, the Orange Bowl is on Jan. 3 during caucus time. No one watches the Orange Bowl -- can you even remember who played in last year's game? (Wake Forest v. Louisville). The Bowl rated fourth for the night, barely beating Dateline: NBC.
Con: College football parity, baby. The Orange Bowl might matter this year.
Pro: College kids will be back home and will be distributed throughout the state, thereby magnifying their effect on other precincts. (The scenario: four Iowa State University students don't caucus in Ames; they caucus in Adair County, where they live, and have a disproportionate effect on their particular caucus meeting). (The political director of the IA Dem party agrees with this argument).
Con: It's much harder to track these kids and to make sure that, when they're back home, they do caucus.
Pro: Obama has more money than any other credible challenger in history; his campaign is not making the same mistakes that Howard Dean's made; Obama is a much better presence on the campaign trail than Bill Bradley and Gary Hart ever were;
Con: There is no historical precedent for changing the demographic composition of the turnout universe that radically.
Pro: Caucus turnout could reach 160,000.
Con: No one but the Obama team believes that -- other campaigns estimate a turnout of about 135,000 Dems.
Con: One third of Iowa college students live outside of Iowa, many of them in Illinois, and Obama can't rely on them because they can't vote if they're not registered in Iowa.
Pro: Two thirds of Iowa college students come from Iowa, and the Obama campaign has undertaken a fairly massive effort to make sure they are registered to vote. Potential college-aged supporters are tracked as regularly as veteran caucus goers.
Grinnell -- one precinct -- if they're spread across the state, you can't run up the state. Those precincts have a low weight because turnout is smaller in the general election.
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