Organizing Iowa: update

The Iowa caucus process is designed to de-mobilize ordinary folks. That’s a problem soluble with organization and logistical support, if you start with a base of fans, rather than people who vaguely prefer you to the alternative. Obama will have the money for organization and logistics; if he also has the fan base, he can organize his way to victory in Iowa no matter how many state reps and public-employee unions endorse his opponents.

Kevin Drum doubts that my organizing approach would work. I tentatively disagree in an update to my previous post.

My key premise is that Obama will have, not just supporters, but fans, who if organized properly will turn out in large numbers, but who still mostly wouldn’t be willing to drive themselves to a strange place on a Sunday evening to spend four hours taking part in a process they don’t really understand. My claim is that many of those people, if asked in advance to commit to turning out, will make that commitment, and that when the Obama van shows up at their doorstep as promised that Sunday they will get on the van.

What’s needed, on this theory, isn’t persuasion, but organization and logistics. And the Obama campaign will have enough money to be able to provide them.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: