Iowa: Who Really Votes at Caucuses

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register was on Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources this morning. In defense of the Iowa caucuses, he made this point:

This is the first time that political activists around the country have a chance to have their say about who ought to be president. Media people have had our say. The money people have had their say. Now this is grass roots activists. And that is, to me, one of the things that is defensible about this caucus is that it is not typical voters, it is party activists.

They go out on a cold January night. They stand up. They sit around. They talk politics. And so it really is the core of each party. If you look at the kind of people that go to a precinct caucus, they look an awful lot like the same sort of people you see at the national convention.

There are 3 million people in Iowa's 99 counties, but it's expected that only 200,000 will come out to caucus. So the caucuses may not reflect the preferences of the voters in Iowa -- only the preferences of politically active voters.

Just something else to keep in mind.

Update: The Des Moines Register has this article today on key voters.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Just to skewer the stats, (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 12:17:33 PM EST
    my step mother, a life long resident of SE Iowa, voted for Edwards at the caucus in 2004 and will vote for him again this time.  However, she has never, to my knowledge, been otherwise active in the Dem. party.

    Horrible defense by Yepsen (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 12:21:46 PM EST
    Why not make IT EASY for more people to vote?

    What a joke.

    It is nothing but nonsense (none / 0) (#3)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 12:31:43 PM EST
    that a small group from a small state has this much influence on both the Demos and the Repubs candidates, and who will be nominated.

    Now this is grass roots activists. And that is, to me, one of the things that is defensible about this caucus is that it is not typical voters, it is party activists.

    It stinks of kings and queens and all that this country was against.

    It is not democratic and should be scrapped.

    Such talk from a Bush Royalist! (none / 0) (#5)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 02:18:39 PM EST
    Too funny, to those of us who know your royalist, the king can do no wrong tendencies.

    Crap (none / 0) (#4)
    by BDB on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 12:42:03 PM EST
    Anytime anyone defends an election system by highlighting the benefits of having only a certain elite group of people voting, you know they are full of crap.  To have Democrats - who have been the victims of vote stealing and vote suppression do it - is ridiculous.

    I wouldn't mind the caucus system so much if it were truly inclusive of all or most democratic voters.  I don't necessarily have a problem with the party getting together as a community and deciding on a candidate, but when the rules are set up to benefit a certain segment of the party, it totally stinks.

    And for the record, democratic voters in Iowa may be the least capable people on the planet in judging anyone's electability.  If I hear one more Iowan interviewed saying that that's what he or she is trying to figure out, I'm going to scream.  Did they learn nothing from Kerry?  Put down your glass balls and vote for who you like best.  Argh!

    The Iowa Caucus Where the Elite Meet to Greet (none / 0) (#6)
    by JSN on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 06:25:24 PM EST
    It is possible the Yepson was serious but he may also have been trying to rattle someone's cage.