Politics

03.16.14

Hillary Deploys Iowa Army

Details on a pro-Clinton super PAC’s push last week show she’s miles ahead of any potential challenger for 2016.

The Iowa caucuses are still nearly two years away, but Hillary Clinton already has the makings of comprehensive organization on the ground in the Hawkeye State.

At the Democratic county conventions held in Iowa on March 8, the biannual gatherings where local party activists meet to conduct party business, the Ready For Hillary superPAC boasted of its ability to have to a presence on the ground in all 99 counties in the Hawkeye State. While only 95 counties actually held conventions last Saturday, Ready for Hillary fell short of its goal—but not by much.

According to data provided to The Daily Beast, Ready For Hillary had operatives on the ground in 84 counties. Ranging from Iowa’s most populous to tiny Adams County, with a population of barely 4,000 spread over 425 square miles.  The result was that in counties with over 95 percent of the state’s population, supporters of Clinton’s candidacy had a presence.  However, there were still some holes.

The most populous county without a volunteer from Ready for Hillary on March 8 was Buena Vista County. It’s a Republican-leaning county in northwest Iowa with 20,000 people.  But it was a comparative outlier in terms of its size as most of the remaining were small and rural counties of less than 10,000, many of which were in southern Iowa on or relatively close to the Missouri border and were overwhelmingly won by John Edwards in the 2008 caucuses.

One political operative familiar with Iowa dismissed this of being of any significance. In his position, the counties without a Ready For Hillary presence were almost invariably “dinky ones and don’t matter in caucus math . . . and were either pretty Republican or lacking in strong local Democratic parties.” He went on to explain that “for the purposes of what [Ready For Hillary] is doing, it’s never been done before and it is really impressive.” In his opinion, Ready For Hillary was “doing the right thing” and doing “a magnificent job” of it so far.

The organization that the Ready for Hillary built for the county conventions is a mere shadow of what’s needed for successful caucus campaign. Although they mustered 250 volunteers in 84 counties, thousands of bodies in all 99 counties are needed for success in 2016. But their effort in collecting names of potential supporters certainly helped moved the ball forward as the group prepares to promote their candidate in the coming two years. While 250 volunteers are not enough to win a caucus on their own, it was still about 250 more than any other Democrat with presidential aspirations had on the ground last week.