Thursday, January 03, 2008

Well, my new toy works!

But Lord help me what a process! I'm running a new operating system (Dogboy, thanks for the offer of helping me install the memory, but I took it to the Apple Store and the "Genius Bar" so if something went wrong I could yell at them! The next movie will be on me!) and it appears to be working.

The iPhone appears to be working just fine as well and I've decided to be one of THOSE people...Bissette probably won't ever talk to me again...I'm going to keep the work cell phone for my day job and carry the iPhone for personal stuff. I know having two cells is just pretentious but I want my bosses to continue to pay for a cell phone that they and the public use to contact me. Why should I have to pay for work minutes on a personal account?

Now to something more interesting. My friend Tony Cignoli is a political consultant who has worked on many campaigns in this and other countries. He sent me a succinct explanation of how the Iowa caucus systems works:

How the Iowa Caucus Works (On paper, according to the rules...technically, supposedly..legally).

I have been asked to prepare the briefest possible synopsis of how things work in Iowa. This brief has taken me some sixteen years to write.

The following is my attempt at simplifying one of the wildest festivities of democracy that I have ever participated in. I am glad it occurs only every four years.

As you read this, remember that I often remind clients and interested electorate of a truth attributed to another fellow from Springfield, Massachusetts. The founder of our profession; Joseph Napolitan once said: "Politics is perception, not reality."

How Democrats Do it in Iowa

As Democrats often are quick to point out, they do it different than Republicans. Especially in Iowa.

For the Democrats, the Iowa Caucuses are a three-step process.

The First Step:

Folks attending the caucuses have thirty minutes to get into the correct "Preference Group." This is the group designated for the candidate that caucus-goer is supporting for President. For a candidate's preference group to be recognized, the assembled group must be comprised of fifteen percent of the total number of people participating in that caucus site. Without fifteen percent, the group would not be recognized as viable.

Step Two:

After the Chairperson of the caucus determines and declares which groups are viable, participants have thirty minutes to switch their allegiance and join another caucus group. Supporters of other candidates can try to supporters of a different candidate to come one over. Backers of non-viable candidates, who appear to have less than the required fifteen percent, are prime targets for this woo-ing.

Step Three:

When the groups are finally set, the caucus chairperson then will determine the number of county convention delegates each group is entitled to elect. Those numbers are then totaled state-wide. The candidate with the most delegates is the winner of the Democratic Caucus.

Note: Undecided can be a preference group of it's own. One need not back a specific candidate.

Note: Regarding Step Two. It can be easy for a person to change their passionate, all-out-zeal, with-my-candidate-
unto-death support of their sworn-to candidate when their cousin who is with candidate A reminds them that
they still owe him for the cattle feed they were short on last spring. Or, when their mom reminds them that she
knows everything about them - stuff they would not want other folks to know so they better vote for candidate B. Or, when their state legislator or County Assemblyman reminds them that they still have not decided on that land-border dispute sitting on their desk and that voting for candidate C sure could make a difference on who gets what piece of the North Forty.

The Republicans Do It This Way:

Frankly, they just go and do it. Republicans assemble at their separate caucus sites and vote for president in a straw poll. They do this by paper ballot or a show of hands. The results are tabulated and sent in to the Republican State Committee where simple math is done. The winner of the Republican Caucus is the candidate with the most votes.

Sam Donaldson, the famed ABC news vet was on Ed Schultz's great progressive talk show the other day saying the Iowa system should be scrapped for a plain old election. After reading Tony's explanation, I have to agree.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

1 comment:

dogboy443 said...

We were watching BBC America World News last night and Katty Kay (her real name) went through the entire Caucus process. WOW. What a convoluted mess. At least it was interesting to see the results and now we get to second guess the NH results.