One week to go, but who will show?
Iowa's presidential caucuses are a mere week from today. If you have not decided on which red, white and blue ensemble to wear, time's a wasting.
But how many caucusgoers will go to the caucuses?
In a Wall Street Journal piece, Michael Barone points out that Iowa Republican caucus participants don't have a terrific track record when it comes to picking the party's eventual nominee. (Again, it's really about winnowing the field. Sheesh.) One big reason, he contends, is that a lot of the state's registered Republicans don't show up, and Iowa GOP leaders are worried about 2012 turnout:
If I were running the Iowa Republican Party, I would be seeking to vastly increase the turnout at the Jan. 3 caucuses. After all, those who turn out can be recruited to help in future Iowa Republican campaigns. I would be especially interested in attracting new young voters; the median age of 2008 caucusgoers was nudging up toward 60.
Yet despite polls showing that Republicans are enthusiastic about the coming campaign and determined to defeat Barack Obama, Iowa Republican insiders are predicting that turnout will not exceed and may not even reach the 119,000 of 2008, when Republicans were dispirited about their party's chances. Puzzling.
Fear not, GOP. "Hundreds" of people interested in the caucuses are arriving in Des Moines this week. OK, sure, they're zany Occupy demonstrators. But they're still doing what they can to help solve the turnout problem:
Organizers have said they refuse to engage in three things: violence, property destruction and interrupting the Jan. 3 caucuses themselves. They have encouraged Iowa residents to attend their precinct caucuses, vote for undecided and use the platform discussion portion of the event to raise the movement’s concerns.
Better order more refreshments, just to be safe. But Republicans say votes cast for "undecided" may not count, although they'll be counted. I'm sensing some indecision on undecided. No preference votes have been tallied in the past.
Still, if Occupy can't bump up turnout with a call to indecision, maybe that rascal Ron Paul can pack 'em in with his enticing elixir of liberty and chaos. From a Washington Examiner story about Paul's support among "mischief" voters:
In a hotly-contested Republican race, it appears that only about half of Paul's supporters are Republicans. In Iowa, according to Rasmussen, just 51 percent of Paul supporters consider themselves Republicans. In New Hampshire, the number is 56 percent, according to Andrew Smith, head of the University of New Hampshire poll.
Rasmussen finds that Romney and Gingrich are one-two among those to consider themselves to be Republicans. But Paul's support includes a rag tag coalition of independents and some Dems.
Non-Republican Iowans can show up on caucus night and register as Republicans on the spot, so long as they have a photo ID proving local residency. So mischief/expanded participation on the GOP side is certainly possible. That would probably benefit Paul, or spark potentially ugly arguments about whether "uncommitted" votes should be counted. Neither prospect makes state party leaders smile.So Republican leaders face a quandary of both hoping for and being frightened of high caucus night turnout. Or maybe "anonymous" will simply hack the results and deliver a rousing caucus win to Donald Trump or Stephen Bloom. In any event, all this uncertainty certainly adds some festive intrigue to the event. Also, please donate to the Rolaids for Republicans Fund.