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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: Could Clinton or Edwards have beaten Obama in Iowa?

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

On January 3, 2008, roughly 240,000 Iowans attended Democratic precinct caucuses, and at least 90,000 of them ended up in Barack Obama's corner. However we felt about Obama during the primaries or the general election campaign, whatever we think about his substantive and symbolic actions since the election, we can all agree that he would not be taking the oath of office tomorrow if Iowa caucus-goers had put him in third place, or even a distant second. I started writing this diary several times last year. I kept abandoning it because emotions were so raw on Democratic blogs that I felt the piece would only ignite a flamewar. Since more than a year has passed, I decided to try one more time. I do not mean to start an argument or pretend that I have all the answers. I just enjoy thinking about counterfactual history. ... When I asked former staffers and volunteers an open-ended question about what might have changed the outcome in Iowa, nine times out of ten the first thing people brought up was the failure to anticipate how large the voter universe would be. Howard Dean's new-voter strategy had flopped, and most experienced hands assumed that Obama's would fail too.

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