Iowa caucus memories open thread

A year ago tonight, nearly 240,000 Iowans spent a couple of hours in overcrowded rooms during the Democratic precinct caucuses.

Thousands of others came to freezing cold Iowa to knock on doors or make phone calls for their presidential candidate in late December and early January.

Share any memories you have about caucusing or volunteering in this thread.

After the jump I re-posted my account of what happened at my own caucus.

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Where the ticket-splitters are

Over at Swing State Project, Shinigami wrote a great diary about Congressional districts where voters split their tickets.

The big picture is that Barack Obama carried 240 Congressional districts, of which 32 sent Republicans to the U.S. House. John McCain carried 195 Congressional districts, of which 49 sent a Democrat to the U.S. House.

McCain's advantage on this metric may surprise you, given how badly he was beaten in the electoral college, but Shinigami notes that

As has been the case since 1968, but with the exception of Bill Clinton in 1996, the GOP Presidential nominee, win or lose, has won more ticket-splitting districts than the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Click the link for the list of all the districts and some analysis of trends. The Obama/R districts are mostly in the midwest and the middle part of the east (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia), except for four in California, one in Washington, and two in Florida.

The McCain/D districts are mostly in the south, midwest and plains states, plus a few in the mountain west, two in New York and four in Pennsylvania.

Overall, just under 19 percent of House districts went for a presidential candidate from one party and a member of Congress from the other party. One of Iowa's five districts (IA-04) fell into this category, and a commenter at Bleeding Heartland was shocked to see that Republican Tom Latham was able to win by 21 points, even though Obama carried his district by 11. (Actually, I think Obama's margin was more like 8 or 9 in that district, but final results are not on the Iowa Secretary of State's website yet.) UPDATE: Thanks to Bleeding Heartland user Johannes for linking to this spreadsheet he compiled on the presidential voting in Iowa's Congressional districts. Obama won IA-04 by about 7.5 percent.

When the presidential votes by Congressional district have been tallied across the country (Swing State Project has these for the 2000 and 2004 elections and is working on compiling the same numbers for this year's election), it would be interesting to see which districts had the most ticket-splitting voters. LA-02 is a special case, because if not for the corruption allegations surrounding Democrat Bill Jefferson he surely would not have lost the runoff by three points in a district Obama carried by 50 points. But there are other districts with disparities as large or larger than that in IA-04. For instance, Obama carried Delaware by 25 points, but Republican Mike Castle retained that state's at-large House seat by 23 points.

Really, do click over to read the whole piece. It is worth your time.

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Republicans Want More Conservative GOP

I'm sorry, the Republican Party deviated from its batshit crazy right-wing "roots"? When was this? I didn't get the memo. I thought they were the party of Lincoln--he wasn't remotely conservative. Teddy Roosevelt was outright liberal. Eisenhower's descendants endorsed Obama. The GOP's conservative "roots" are as fictitious as those myths about the 1950s; they never existed in the first place! I guess any Republican infighting is good though...

LOL!  If they do this, we'll just expand and cement our dominance of the nation!  They can become the party of some of the South and West.  I'm sure the reason they lost this year was their being too liberal.  

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Iowa now the best bellwether state

Josh Goodman alerted me to this piece he wrote for "Move Over Missouri, Iowa Is the New Bellwether State."

John McCain appears likely to take Missouri's 11 electoral votes, which would be the first time since 1956 that the state did not vote for the winner of the presidential election.

However, Goodman argues that Missouri has not been the best bellwether for the last few cycles. Even though it voted for the winner each time through 2004, Missouri has steadily trended more Republican in relation to the national popular vote.

Goodman then lists "the five states that have come closest to matching the national popular vote in each election since 1988." (Click here to see which other states made these lists.) Guess what he found?

Iowa is the only state that has been one of the top five bellwethers in four of the last five elections. The only year that it doesn't make the list is 1996, when it was sixth -- and only off by 1.82 points.

So, in every presidential election from 1992 through 2008, Iowa's popular vote margin was within 2.55 percentage points of the national popular vote result. That is an impressive performance as a bellwether. [...]

None of that guarantees that "as Iowa goes, so goes the nation" in 2012. Four years out, elections are never that predictable. But, just from the numbers, if there's one state that we can expect to be a microcosm of the nation in 2012, it's Iowa.

It's interesting that Iowa's vote has tracked so closely to the national popular vote, even though Iowa's population is relatively unrepresentative demographically (96 percent white and with a higher proportion of senior citizens than most states).

Anyone have a theory to explain this phenomenon?

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Begich Lead Over Stevens Grows to 2,374

Begich, Mark     146286     47.56%

Stevens, Ted     143912     46.79%


I don't have the exact total of the previous vote at hand but it appears to be roughly 14,000 to 15,000 more votes than previously tabulated.

Importantly, Begich's lead is now at .77 percent, more than the .50 percent necessary to trigger an automatic recount.

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