(Crossposted from The Field.)
Part II has, in my view, the most memorable lines of Obama's victory speech...
And, yes, much more at the jump!
"I know you didn't do this for me. You did this because you believed so deeply in the most American of ideas: that in the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it...
"My journey began on the streets of Chicago doing what so many of you have done for this campaign and all the campaigns here in Iowa: Organizing and working and fighting to make people's lives just a little bit better. I know how hard it is. It comes with little sleep, little pay, and a lot of sacrifices. There are days of disappointment but sometimes, just sometimes, there are nights like this...
"You'll be able to look back at this night and say that this was the moment when it all began... when the improbable beat what Washington said was inevitable... This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear and doubt and cynicism, the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up. This was the moment. Years from now, you'll look back and you'll say that this was the moment, this was the place where America remembered what it means to hope. For many months we've been teased, even derided, for talking about hope. We always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, to work for it, and to fight for it."
Most pollsters had a dreadful time attempting to take measurement of what the results of the Iowa caucuses would be. Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com wrote, on January 2, 2008 (correction: 2007!), that Iowa was "the pollster's nightmare":
The most puzzling - as noted by our friend Mickey Kaus - involves the performance of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in two polls of likely Democratic caucus goers conducted in Iowa in late December by Research2000 and the American Research Group (ARG). Both showed John Edwards with roughly the same support (20-22%). ARG Research 2000 showed Clinton leading with 31% and Obama running distant forth (at 10%) behind outgoing Iowa governor Tom Vilsack (17%). Research 2000 ARG showed Obama and Edwards tied for first (22%), with Clinton running forth (10%) behind Vilsack (17%).
So...Hillary Clinton is either their clear front runner in Iowa (with 31%) or running a distant fourth (with 10%).
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the pollster's nightmare: The Iowa Caucuses.
Here's the aggregation of polls in Iowa which had Senator Clinton in the lead right up until the end:
The "entrance poll" taken by the networks as Iowans entered the caucuses that evening had Obama at 35 percent (winning a whopping 57 percent of all caucus-goers under 30), with Edwards and Clinton in the mid 20 percentiles.
The final results (after supporters of also-rans Richardson, Biden, Dodd and Kucinich made their second choices) were:
Obama 38 percent
It was that Iowa victory that catapulted Obama upward and toward the eventual nomination and election as president of the United States.
The aggregation of national polls showed Obama twenty points behind Clinton in the Autumn of 2007. He began to inch upward in December and after Iowa shot straight up, finally overtaking Clinton in mid-February and never slipping behind after that:
Iowa gave viability to Obama's campaign and created an almost immediate shift in the African-American vote nationwide which, until a year ago tonight, had, according to all polls, supported Clinton over Obama. Iowa caused many African-Americans (and others) who had thought that white folks would never support a black presidential candidate to look at the results of lily white Iowa and conclude, "yes, we can."
I've got the staff here digging through the archives to find some of my postings from that week, a year ago, at another now-defunct website (we've got them, it's just a matter of conducting an archeological dig!), but I wanted to get those videos up in time for happy hour.
Update: And here it is, my post from January 2, 2008...
It's not the polls that tell us who will win tomorrow, but other factors: field organization (it really does matter), message, resources and how they've been deployed. All of them point to an Obama victory in Iowa tomorrow.
Just a few days ago when all holiday season polls were showing Clinton or Edwards ahead or surging in Iowa, I tried to gently suggest, in a number of ways, why Obama is, polls be damned, likely to win college educated women away from Clinton and hold onto college educated men against a late surge from Edwards. And I also opined that while everyone talks about his younger voter support, that Obama's "nuclear weapon" would be Independent voters flooding the Democratic caucuses in record numbers.
That Des Moines Register pollster J. Anne Selzer found that weapon on her radar screen will, if it comes true, increase the deserved mystique and credibility that surrounds her ability to figure out who will turn out to vote before the balloting starts. Even if she's off by nine points on her projection that 40 percent of Democratic caucus-goers will be Independent voters, she'll still have been closer to the real number than any other pollster, and will have told, in advance, the story of tomorrow night. (The DMR tonight offers more detail on the Independent tsunami that it reports is headed the Democrats' way.) But even if her poll had shown opposite results, I'd still be predicting an Obama win for tomorrow.
Obama is likely to win because he staffed the largest field organization and he did so early: more field offices and - prior to a wave of late arrivals over the past month for Clinton - he had more staff on Iowan ground than any other candidate. Through the Camp Obama training programs all summer long, the Obama campaign prepared its troops well through a program developed by, among others, veteran community organizer Marshall Ganz and rising field superstar Temo Figueroa.
Clinton's Iowa field marshal Theresa Vilmain as much as admitted to reporters that Clinton got a late start in Iowa. Meanwhile, Obama targeted young people (the others ignored them or scorned them as non-voting miscreants) including Independents, and defended them when DMR political reporter David Yepsen crusaded briefly against non-native students at Iowa universities participating. While Clinton, Dodd and Biden pandered to Yepsen, Obama dug in - at some risk, given Yepsen's long arm over the process - and showed mettle that should reap dividends tomorrow night.
During the many debates, while pundits opined that Obama had lackluster performances, something else was going on at ground level: TV news focus groups of Iowa voters showed Obama usually convincing more Hawkeye state voters that watched them than the other candidates. Obama has consistently drawn the largest crowds throughout Iowa all year long and over the past week, and in hyper-active effort to avoid the errors of Howard Dean four years ago, his campaign prioritized enlisting those that came to fill out pledge cards to caucus and be incorporated into the campaign organization.
The proximity of Obama's state of Illinois to Iowa will also play a role in this victory: he's likely to build up margins of victory in Eastern Iowa border counties, some quite populous. (For those that think that the late US Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois failed to do that in 1988, take a trip in the Wayback Machine to William Saletan's finding that year that Simon may have actually won the '88 Iowa caucuses.)
Money has also played a role, as it always does in politics. This year, the turnout of first-time caucus-goers, including Independent voters, will also be fueled by simple math. Halperin quotes CBS News' Campaign Notebook tonight: "Candidates spent $65 million in Iowa this year, three times 2004's total." Well, you often get back what you pay out, and Obama's success fundraising with (what is now approaching) 500,000 donors, most of them small, gave him the resources to go dollar for dollar with the once inevitable Clinton machine, even if we include in the totals the $2.5 million in independent expenditures made on her behalf.
Yes, money can't buy you love, so in the end it comes down to Obama's buzzword of "change," now recited by all candidates. (When, as today, Clinton say she is "fired up and ready to go," Iowans understand the "me-too" nature of such proclamations. The writing is on the wall.)
For all these reasons and more, that's why I call tomorrow's Iowa caucus for Obama.
(Bold-type emphasis added.)
And to think, a year later, we're 17 days away from that then-underdog taking the oath of office.
Then it will really be show time.