Organizing Iowa and Lobbying DC
Peter Slevin and Jose Antonio Vargas examine the Democratic ground operations in Iowa and find that "With turnout likely to be decisive in a Democratic race that pollsters call a three-way tie, Obama (Ill.) has built an Election Day operation that combines an apparent edge in technology with the tried-and-true grunt work of a traditional Iowa campaign. Edwards and Clinton have also assembled formidable ground operations, with outside help from labor unions and political interest groups." Michael D. Shear and Perry Bacon Jr. write that "Republican rivals Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney took their battle over Christian voters to the pews as both attended services while their campaigns spanned Iowa in a final Sunday pitch to evangelicals."
In New Hampshire, Alec MacGillis explores the way John McCain's current bid is different from his 2000 one. In D.C., Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and John Solomon report on McCain's relationship with lobbyists. "As a presidential candidate this year, McCain has found himself assiduously courting both lobbyists and their wealthy clients, offering them private audiences as part of his fundraising. He also counts more than 30 lobbyists among his chief fundraisers, more than any other presidential contender," they write.
In Style, Howard Kurtz reports that ABC's Charlie Gibson "has a novel approach in mind for the next faceoff among the presidential candidates." And finally, Shankar Vedantam looks at new research into the impact of network effects on voting behavior. He writes:
In a new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Watts and Dodds debunk the idea that influential people drive races one way or the other. The decisive factor, they show in a series of mathematical models, is not the presence of influential people but people who are easily influenced. Random, insignificant events are vastly magnified by networks of such malleable people influencing one another, and this tilts the race one way or another. Blind chance plays a big role.
Once a winner is declared, however, politicians, voters and the media construct a narrative of how that outcome occurred -- they usually point to a set of pivotal characters and crucial turning points. Watts said that these after-the-fact explanations are like explaining a forest fire based on the first spark and a handful of pivotal trees, rather than on the complex relationship between wind, temperature, humidity and fuel.
Web Politics Editor
December 31, 2007; 6:07 AM ET
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