The 2006 Iowa Caucuses aren’t getting the international attention that the Caucuses did in 2004 when Democrats were helping to pick a president, and turn-out at tonight’s precinct meeting will not even reach five percent of likely voters in either the Republican or Democratic parties. But the folks who will show up are valuable to this year’s candidates, as those who attend tonight are the most loyal of the party faithful.
Nick Ryan, campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle, has arranged to have some national party officials attend some Caucuses tonight to sing Nussle’s praises. Ryan says over the past couple of weeks the Nussle campaign has had volunteers call about 20-thousand Republican households in 40 counties around the state and encouraged those people to attend the caucuses. “We know that we’re going to need a real solid Republican volunteer base to elect a Republican governor in November,” Ryan says. The other Republican in the race — Bob Vander Plaats — has some of his big-name supporters speaking on his behalf at Caucuses in some of the state’s larger cities.
On the Democrat side, Ed Fallon told Radio Iowa earlier this month that he wants his supporters to get the people at each of their Democratic caucus gatherings to break into “candidate preference groups” which would show which candidate has the most backers at the Caucuses. “That’s what makes Caucuses exciting. That’s why we have, in part, such great turn-out in presidential years,” Fallon says. But none of the other Democrats running for governor is encouraging their supporters to gauge candidate strength tonight by breaking into “preference groups.
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party says party officials believe measuring the strength of the respective candidates in the race would be “premature” because most Iowans haven’t heard enough about the candidates. Back on the Republican side, there will be no strawpoll to judge which candidate is winning over the party faithful. The two parties have listed their caucus sites on their websites.