Iowa Democrats did their job at the Feb. 1 first in the nation political caucuses.
The field was winnowed from six candidates (Chafee, Clinton, Lessig, O’Malley, Sanders and Webb) to two (Clinton and Sanders), giving Hillary Clinton a narrow, historic victory.
Our precinct played a role, and not an insignificant one, in producing that victory.
Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win the Iowa caucus — another glass ceiling broken. The caucus results are close. How close? It’s a matter of a couple of delegates with all but one of the state’s 1,683 precincts reporting, according to the Iowa Democratic Party. It is unclear whether the Sanders campaign will request a recount, but I doubt it. There are bigger fish to fry.
Iowa also played a role in setting which issues would be front and center in the 2016 presidential election. Even the anti-billionaire money in politics candidate Bernie Sanders gave an unintended nod to billionaire Tom Steyer’s advocacy to put climate action on the front burner of the contest. While issues aren’t the same as the horse race, they matter and Iowa matters in defining them.
The caucuses will be analyzed in great detail in the next 48 hours, so I have only a couple of things to add.
I begin with the lesson learned while attending the Democracy for America training in elections: winning an election is getting 50 percent of the vote plus one. The DFA method puts what happened in our precinct into higher relief, as through planning and competent execution of the tactical plan, our team for Hillary turned out more voters than expected, and provided Martin O’Malley his only delegate from Johnson County, and one of the few he got in the state. By giving O’Malley a delegate, it was taken from the Bernie Sanders group, giving Clinton a 2-1 victory over Sanders in Big Grove precinct. In a tight race, that one delegate mattered.
Here are the numbers.
Big Grove turned out 165 voters this cycle. We turned out 92 people for Clinton, the same number Obama had in 2008. In 2008, there were 75 Clinton supporters, a tie with John Edwards, and Clinton won the second delegate that year with a coin toss. For perspective, we turned out 242 during the six-way race Obama won in 2008. Our turnout last night was 69.2 percent of 2008’s record. Clinton had 56 percent of people at the caucus last night compared to 38 percent for Obama in 2008.
At the first alignment I reported these numbers to the Clinton campaign:
Clinton – 92
Sanders – 57
O’Malley – 10
Uncommitted – 6
This count would split the delegates two for Clinton and two for Sanders, with O’Malley not being viable. At the second alignment we sent our negotiating team to talk to O’Malley, with the Sanders representatives standing next to ours.
To get a third delegate we had one option. We needed to take people from Sanders and they were holding firm except for three people who moved to O’Malley. I did the analysis, ratified it with our team, and determined that by giving O’Malley 12 people their team would be viable and the delegate would come from Sanders.
I explained our proposal to the Clinton group and it was easy to get 12 volunteers to go to the O’Malley camp, since they understood the logic, if not the byzantine methodology. We executed the tactic, producing the following report to the Clinton campaign.
Clinton – 80
Sanders – 56
O’Malley – 25
Uncommitted – 0
Standing next to my neighbor and caucus chair, he phoned in two delegates for Clinton, one for O’Malley and one for Sanders to the state party system. This was our fourth presidential caucus working together and we were the last to leave the Middle School.
I haven’t digested everything that happened last night, although I was proud of the effort team Hillary put forward in our precinct. We ended up door knocking our entire precinct on Sunday, and that last minute extra effort had to have made a difference in turnout and the final result.
From here, let the pundits, bloggers and news reporters tell their story. The 2016 Iowa caucuses are in the books, and it is up to the remaining 49 states to decide who our Democratic nominee will be.
Whoever that is, I’ll feel comfortable going back to this year’s caucus attendees to ask for help in the general election campaign. No unity party needed here.