Eight Days Before Caucus Night and …

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Eight Days Before Caucus Night and …

Lynda Waddington

The countdown to Iowa begins. With eight days until the Iowa caucus, candidates are scrambling to make the biggest splash but are Iowans already worn out?

… despite there being several inches of snow and ice on the ground, politics marches on. Several candidates had to cancel stops on the weekend before Christmas due to unsafe driving conditions. Most campaigns are praying for better weather between now and caucus night, but the extended forecast is calling for more snow tonight and Friday before the sun comesout again.

A break in the snow and ice is good news for those candidates who are depending upon first-time or inexperienced caucus-goers to up their totals. It remains to be seen exactly how much trouble those individuals will go through in order to stand in a crowded gymnasium or church basement for their chosen candidates.

Repeat Iowa caucus attendees — the party faithful — are those who will walk/snowshoe to caucus locations, if necessary, in order to make their voices heard. Strong supporters of this type can be found in the corners of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. On the Republican side, both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have been drawing party loyalists to them and could also stand to benefit if the weather turns foul.

… there is still grumbling about the direct mail piece sent by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that used a quotation from Edwards to justify an attack on Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan. AFSCME has endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, although her name was not to be found on the full-color mailer.

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A softer version of the original mailer hit Iowa mailboxes on Christmas eve. This one, also issued by AFSCME's political arm, took aim at Obama's health care plan, but did so without resorting to other candidate's words for the punchline.

… recycling bins are chock full of political mailings, most of it directly from the campaigns.

Just before Christmas New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson issued a full-color, glossy broadsheet both taking a swipe at the current administration and touting Richardson's plans for Iraq, education, energy independence and
health care. Edwards, who seems to be the most prolific mailer of the bunch, has a new glossy piece outlining his plan to rebuild rural Iowa. Clinton issued a non-glossy hitting on her energy plan.

By far, Clinton seems to be garnering the most support in the state from affiliated groups, campaigning on her behalf. In addition to AFSCME, EMILY's List and the American Federation of Teachers both have advertisements and/or direct mail pieces.

… Iowans, who have been up to their eyeballs in candidates since at least February 2007, are starting to tire. The campaigns, some of them in full-fledged panic mode, are also starting to grate on volunteers. The one-day break — yes, one day since there were campaign events on Christmas eve and scheduled for Christmas Day– was much needed by all. While the prior year cannot be completely discounted, these final few days are going to be telling.