Looking forward to a night of many possible winners in Iowa

You dream in the news business about the headline you’d write for a big story. But trying to guess what will come out of the Tuesday, Jan. 3, Republican caucuses is, to say the least, a challenge.

Romney takes Iowa

Gingrich takes Iowa

Paul takes Iowa

Bachmann has strong showing in old-home Iowa

Santorum surge surprises GOP

Fact is, we may not have a headline declaring a meaningful winner. The reason: a close vote involving two or more candidates can be viewed as a win by each candidate. A lead of only a few percentage points in Iowa can be erased quickly in New Hampshire during the marathon race to the Republican nomination for president.

Those involved in the selection process know this but casual observers caught up in the numbers may not: those opinion polls showing two or three candidates running a couple of percentage points apart aren’t predicting winners. Lots of people can be winners in the nation’s first presidential precinct caucuses of substantial merit.

We are gearing up to tell you about it Tuesday night online and Wednesday morning in The Gazette. We'll work with KCRG-TV9 to provide caucus coverage at our special site, IowaCaucus.com. We have been sharing reports with Iowa’s Lee Enterprise newspapers leading up to the caucuses but I suspect we’ll contribute plenty from our staff the night of Jan. 3 just in Eastern Iowa and where campaigns and media outlets will focus in Des Moines.

Here is a look at our plans for what you will be able to see Tuesday night at IowaCaucus.com, which is accessible through TheGazette.com and KCRG.com.

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  • Live stream reports of the night’s activities, some of it exclusive for online, some of it from broadcasts on KCRG-TV9 and KCRG 9.2. Gazette political reporter James Q. Lynch will be our expert in residence, sharing his knowledge. KCRG-TV9 news anchors Bruce Aune and Beth Malicki will host a KCRG 9.2 telecast from 7 to 8 p.m. News anchors Ashley Hinson and Nicole Agee take over from 8 to 9 p.m. for an online only webcast. Then, at 9 p.m. Aune and Malicki return for coverage on KCRG-TV9 and KCRG 9.2. You can view each telecast on the websites’ live stream.
  • Lynch will be busy. He will be on a live chat with University of Iowa political science associate professor Cary Covington and Mount Mercy University communication associate professor Joe Sheller. Join the conversation about events as they unfold.
  • A running display of what people are sharing about the caucuses on Twitter.
  • Updates on vote totals from all 99 Iowa Republican Party caucuses.
  • Stories, photos and video as they are filed.
  • Information you want to share. I wrote about this a few weeks ago and we have heard from some interested people. More people are welcome to share what is happening in the caucuses. Look on the IowaCaucus.com website for the Get Involved feature. It’s easy to submit your observations for consideration to be published.

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While all of this is going on we will seek clarity for the report in Wednesday morning’s Gazette. We want to give you something worthwhile with your morning breakfast or cup of coffee. The strength of newspapers during events like the caucuses is their ability to deliver insight that you can digest after learning the initial results.

The campaigns and national media will move to New Hampshire, South Carolina and the super states. We’ll still be here, though. We have plenty of other news to explore for those of you ready for something else in Iowa.

Yeah, we know a lot of you are ready for something else. But being able to help chose the president of the United States in the personal way available in Iowa is special and worth the attention.

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