THE PLANK OCTOBER 11, 2007
Ed Kilgore notices something interesting about the methodology of the latest Des Moines Register Iowa poll. The poll assumes that only 2 percent of likely caucus-goers are under the age of 25. Ed writes:
Two percent under 25? Is that possible? Does the poll assume that Caucus Night will coincide with big episodes of Heroes or Grey's Anatomy?
Given these numbers, the really amazing thing about the Iowa Poll results is that Barack Obama is still within striking distance of HRC. And to flip the issue around, even if the percentage of Caucus-goers under 25 turns out to be twice as high as the Iowa Poll suggests, all the media stories about Obama's robust campus-based support in Iowa have been apparently been goosing a ghost. You don't count if you don't vote.
I learned a few interesting things about the Iowa youth vote from this recent ghost-goosing NYT article on the subject:
Mr. Obama has taken a personal role in the program his Iowa organizers have set up to recruit potential supporters in Iowa. Voters here are permitted to participate in the caucuses as long as they are 18 by the time of the presidential election. At each stop on his four-day tour through Iowa last week, Mr. Obama put aside time to meet with "Barack Stars," as members of the network are called.
"If you're going to be 17 by Nov. 4, you can help decide who the next president is," Mr. Obama told students in the town of New Hampton. In Washington, Iowa, after posing for a group photo and taking a few questions, he urged his young audience to volunteer to work on Tuesday night--high school night--at Obama headquarters. "You can't have beer, but you can have pizza," Mr. Obama said.
One sign of the attention to these voters is that one political parlor game in Iowa is what the early caucuses this year--it's looking likely it will take place a few days after New Year's--will mean for college-age voters since they will still be home for the holidays. The original take was that, given the assumption that Mr. Obama does better with that age cohort, he would be hurt in places like Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, which has just under 30,000 students, if school was out.
But because of the way caucus results are tallied, it might actually be better for Mr. Obama if students are back home (assuming they live in Iowa, and actually go home for winter break) going to caucuses in local communities where support for Mr. Obama might not be so high.
I guess the question is, are the Barack Stars for real, or are they merely going to be the Orange Hats of '08?