Wednesday, January 23, 2008

By Staying in the Campaign, Edwards Helps Obama

Although John Edwards is quickly losing his status as one of the front runners in the campaign, he is still vital in keeping Hillary Clinton from winning, according to a recent article on Alternet.org. Although a lot of Edwards supporters would likely switch their votes to Obama, he is still important for this reason: Obama still keeps most of the southern Black vote, but Edwards splits the southern White vote (in which Obama is trailing) with Clinton, preventing her from breaking even with him. Were Edwards to drop out, Clinton would quickly be even with- or even surpass- Obama in states where he currently has a lead.

This article says that Obama currently isn't strong enough, especially among many White voters, to hold his own against Clinton in the election, but if he stays strong and has a good showing on Super-Duper Tuesday, he should have a decent chance of getting the Democratic nomination. But up until then, Edwards is a vital part of ensuring his success.

Obama Campaign Says Nevada Caucus Disenfranchised Voters

Several days ago, after the recent Nevada caucuses, the Barack Obama campaign called for an investigation into what happened at some of the caucus locations throughout the state. According to a press conference held by the Obama campaign, “an indeterminate number of caucus locations” stopped allowing new voters in at 11:30am, half an hour before the caucuses were actually supposed to start at 12:00pm. This is allegedly because of incorrect information provided by the Clinton campaign in their manuals.

The Obama campaign is not going to challenge the outcome of the vote, even though Clinton got more delegates than Obama.

According to a statement sent out by the Obama campaign to its volunteers, there were over 200 incidents at caucus sites. Although they didn't blame these on the Clinton campaign, they did mention that they had extra impact because of and with “an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself” from the Clinton campaign.

Other caucus sites ran out of paper ballots, registration forms, and other things, and apparently there were some ballots that had been pre-marked for Clinton.

Obama Volunteer Work

The longest and most strenuous (but also most enjoyable) day of my Iowa trip was definitely the day that I spent volunteering for Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign. The other Obama supporters on the trip and I all arrived at the campaign headquarters around 9:00 that morning. Soon after our arrival, we were given clipboards with maps and a list of potential (and verified) Obama supporters and we went off to a residential area of Ames to knock on doors and leave literature about the caucuses. Since we were walking around on a Wednesday morning, many people were at work, so I ended up leaving a lot of door hangers. After several hours of canvassing, we returned to the Obama headquarters. Everybody else left to see Bill Clinton speak in Des Moines, but I stayed at the office to help more. Over the next nine hours, I made over three hundred phone calls to potential and verified Obama supporters, reminding them of their caucus location, answering any questions they may have had about Senator Obama or the caucuses, and occasionally getting hung up on, sworn at, or told that they had changed their political affiliation- including one person who had supported Obama, but now favors Ron Paul.

For me, volunteering for Senator Obama’s campaign was a really valuable experience, and I would definitely like to do campaign work in the future, either paid or volunteer. It enabled me to see how a campaign works on the inside, and also gave me insight into and respect for all of the work and personpower that go into retail politics as they're practiced in Iowa. Although I don't want to run for public office, nor would I want to do something as big as manage an entire campaign, I definitely hope that campaign work can be a part of my life for quite some time.

John Edwards

I’ve seen John Edwards twice, and both times, what he said was very similar… in fact, it was almost identical each time. This surprised me, especially because of the difference in audience and location of the two times we saw him. The first time was in Algona, a town of about 6000 people in northern Iowa, and there were around 200 people in attendance. The speech he gave there talked a lot about farmers and workers, and I thought it was generally well-suited to the mostly-rural, casually dressed, small-town Iowa constituents who attended, although I thought that the way he dressed (a blue suit with a white dress shirt and tie… and brown Timberland boots) didn’t entirely “match” his audience.

The next day, we saw him in Ames at Iowa State University. I had figured that his speech would be different, since he was speaking in a university town of just over 50000 residents. His speech, however, was almost exactly the same as the one he had given the day before in Algona- but his dress was different. He was wearing the same boots and jacket, but he was wearing jeans and a white button down… in other words, the clothes that I would have said were more appropriate for the Algona crowd of farmers and small-town folk, not the university-town dwellers.

In general, though, I liked John Edwards’ message. He spoke about returning power to the American people, and also about the importance of family and the legacy of those who came before. I also support his healthcare plan and his plan for rebuilding in Iraq.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

First Time Voter Gets Glimpse of the Action

In the title of my first post, I described myself as a “first time voter eager to catch a glimpse of the action” (in Iowa). Now, having spent my week in Iowa, I have soaked up more knowledge about the Iowa caucuses and about political campaigning as a whole than I ever expected I would. Going into the trip, I expected to catch a few campaign events from a distance, do some busy work for the Obama campaign for a few hours, and attend a laid back precinct caucus on the big night. However, what I got was much more than that. The event that I went to were very interactive, and most of the time my seat was good enough to get me a spot on national television. My work with the Obama campaign was far more extensive than I imagined. I got to knock on doors and actually talk to regular Iowans about Obama. In addition, I got to see what campaigning is like behind the scenes. On caucus night, the events were far from boring. The people were pumped up and the room was filled with excitement.

What I have been able to take away from all of this is a better understanding of what it takes to run a political campaign. To win the hearts and minds of millions of voters, you have to have a strong and appealing message. I heard many examples of these at the numerous rallies I attended. To complement this message, you must have a strong grassroots organization to “get out the vote” at the local level. I witnessed this at the Obama headquarters in Ames, Iowa. Finally, I realize now that when it all comes down to it, the people really are the ones who decide which candidate gets elected. The struggling and maneuvering I saw at the precinct caucus demonstrated how much the people enjoy that power. The experiment that is American Democracy is working, and it is working because we the people make it work.

Meeting the Rotary Club

Today my classmates and I had the delightful opportunity to have lunch with the North Manchester Rotary Club and share our experiences in Iowa with them. This was a lot of fun because the members of the organization are very friendly and generous. They love to do work for their community and they love to invite guests into their meetings. I found their company to be warm and receptive to our stories about Iowa.

This was also a good exercise for our class because until then we really haven’t had to describe the Iowa caucuses to anyone from outside the state of Iowa. Many on the members of the Club were well informed about the candidates, but not many knew much about the caucus system itself. Thus, we were able to demonstrate what we knew about the process to them and help them understand the caucuses better. In the end, I think they had a great time getting to know more about politics and hearing our fun stories.

thoughts on New Hampshire

January 5th



After the dust settled and the smoke cleared in Iowa, A cry for change could be heard resounding throughout the state. Upstart Senator Barack Obama was able to dominate the Democratic Caucus while Republican Mike Huckabee triumphs over front-runner Mitt Romney. With all of this surprise and inconsistency in the Caucus, what can be expected from the rest of the nation? Is this the year that the Democratic party will nominate a black man? Or a woman? Iowa has had its say but there is so much still left unanswered by the nation. Who will be able to emerge from either field and claim the presidency?

After a second place finish at the Iowa Caucuses on Thursday, John Edwards looks to keep his hopes alive by a strong showing in New Hampshire. Edwards was able to edge out Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton on Thursday to secure the second place finish falling only a few points behind winner Barack Obama. Edwards was able to push himself into the pack of Clinton and Obama despite being outspent by the duo almost ten to one. Pundits point to an array of situations that could have led to the good showing by Edwards. First and probably most important, Edwards has been campaigning in Iowa for years now. After his second place finish four years ago Senator Edwards has practically camped out in the state. This could be a major reason why the Iowa public voted for him. Also, Edwards has collected many middle/ working class votes because of his history as a lawyer and a populist candidate. Edwards reminds us of his upbringing in Seneca, South Carolina where his parents where mill workers. Edwards populist appeal may have been one of the major reasons why he was able to secure the win in Iowa.

Unfortunately, Edwards faces a new challenge in New Hampshire on Tuesday. His middle-class working-class platform will appeal much less to the more white-collar professionals (doctors don't really like John Edwards because he sued them a lot as a lawyer) in New Hampshire. He must be able to win the vote of unions with which he was very successful in doing in Iowa. He must also be able to steal a portion of the young vote from Barack Obama. This could help him secure another second place finish. Another thing going against John Edwards is his lack of funds. He may have been able to keep up with the other two candidates in Iowa but he will not be able to go much further with the meager funds that he has. He has taken out a federal matching loan that severely limits his finances. John Edwards biggest hope is that he can survive New Hampshire, which has never been too hospitable to Southern candidates, and manage to win in his home state of South Carolina.