Team Obama uses Iowa Democratic caucuses to practice for November

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The Obama 2012 campaign is using Iowa’s Democratic caucuses to test its state-wide organization, which already includes eight offices and numerous paid workers.

Democrats describe the organization and its custom-built voter-tracking software as an ace-in-the-hole for President Obama, partly because they see it as a way to persuade first-time voters, independents and unenthusiastic supporters to pull the lever for Obama on Nov. 6.

The Democratic caucuses are happening at the same time as the GOP caucuses, but are getting little attention this year. That’s very different form 2008, when Obama used a wave of enthusiasm to beat then-Senator Hillary Clinton.

This time, Democrats are using their state-wide caucuses to practice their November procedures, to energize their volunteers, and to tout their organization to the visiting media.

They’re getting good coverage, but not all media reports are positive. A Reuters report, for example, quoted a campaign worker who described an uninterested Democratic base.

“‘Obviously, the celebrity is on the Republican side, and people I’ve called today didn’t even know the Democrats were even going to have a caucus,’ said Leni Stastny, 63, a retired insurance worker who was volunteering at a call center in Cedar Rapids,” said the Reuters report.

After talking to many people on the Obama campaign’s phone list, Stastny said that “some people hung up on me. And some people didn’t want anything to do with it. And some people were really mad at Obama because of … health care [reform].”

The Obama campaign’s blog, however, paints a different picture of enthusiastic volunteer and a receptive electorate.

“It’s been really positive. It’s cemented my belief that people have not abandoned the President — these calls have been outstanding,” according to a statement on the campaign’s Iowa blog. The statement was attributed to “Sharon, a neighborhood team leader from Iowa,” who also was quoted saying that “the number one response we get is people saying they’ve got his back, and they thank us for what we’re doing.”

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