It seems that the Obama people correctly analyzed the situation: they sought people who would:

  • A) show up to caucus, and
  • B) stand firm for their guy.

So, according to data published by the NYTimes (county-by-county outcome here, and entrance poll profiles here), Obama’s team turned out their backers, and those backers weren’t swayed by others. Ergo, Obama came out of the caucus system with the top score statewide.

Sr. GBH the other day…by JCB.

Seems like too many other candidates have not exploited the whole system: gotta stuff those caucus rooms with your people. Doesn’t matter so much how total people many across Iowa are for you, but how many show up for the caucus and are for you.

The Huckabee situation seems like it wasn’t his organization that turned out people so much, but people who held beliefs that motivated them to turn out. Plus so many other Republican candidates didn’t have many highly motivated backers (think McCain, Giuliani). The profile of Romney backers is informative: They supported him “with reservations” and they felt it important that they thought he’d win nationally. That’s a version of lukewarm and situational. It’s not so much about him, but about the situation. Such folks don’t feel as compelled to turn out.

What all that wonderful NYTimes data don’t show is what candidate were people willing to move to, if they couldn’t stay with their original? And its flip side: who was so entrenched they could move people to their candidate? Pundits are saying that on the Democratic side, fewer caucus-goers were willing to move to Clinton as a second choice, so that Obama and Edwards overwhelmingly benefitted in that situation….

My analysis (not meaning to compete with Russert or Brooks): those candidates whose voters were overwhelmingly of one gender or another are not likely to be viable nationally. This means Obama, Edwards, Romney, and McCain have the most “legs.” Those who are overweighted in one gender: Clinton (more women), Thompson (more men; yes!), Paul (more men).

Back to the first point, however: what it comes down to is whether your backers turn out heavily—since voting is not compulsive in the USA, and so few eligible voters do that ever-so-important civic duty. Even in presidential elections….

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