Sunday, January 24, 2016

One More Time

The Democratic National Committee has given in to more debates. Well, sort of.  The three Democratic presidential candidates - yes, Martin O'Malley (below) will be there too - are taking part in a town-hall forum at Drake University in Iowa, one week before the caucuses in that state, to be broadcast on CNN.  Chris Cuomo will moderate it.
This forum could not come at a better or a more crucial time for O'Malley, who needs to get his numbers up in Iowa to get at least 15 percent of the vote, otherwise he gets no delegates there and his supporters have to go with their second choices.  If that happens, I prefer to see the majority of O'Malley caucus goers gravitate to Bernie Sanders (after that, uncommitted).  But I still hope O'Malley gets enough supporters to avoid that problem.
The polls are meaningless in Iowa, as caucus goers provide surprises all the time, like Barack Obama's win in 2008, or Gary Hart's distant but game-changing second-place showing at 16 percent in 1984. Ironically, it was a surprise - more like a shock - in Hart's ill-fated 1988 campaign that O'Malley, a Hart protégé, would hope not to repeat for himself.  
Because caucus goers have to spend hours at a meeting, as opposed to casting a ballot in a primary, organizing voters and getting as many of them as possible to the meetings is key to winning in caucuses.  O'Malley tried to get as many caucus supporters for Hart, by then disgraced by a sex scandal and his own perceived aloofness,  as possible to come out, but the candidate finished dead last with less than half of a percent of the vote.  O'Malley, informing the candidate that he had to officially register him at zero percent, apologized for not getting Hart's supporters in Iowa better organized.
Hart knew the real reason for his loss.  "Martin," he told his protégé, "this was not an organizational problem."

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