In case you didn’t know, the Iowa caucus is not a typical secret ballot vote. I’ll discuss that later, but one of the most controversial aspects of the caucus is that in order to recieve delegates from a polling cite, a candidate must recieve support of 15% of the caucus goers. This usually isn’t a big deal to 1st tier candidates but it because a significant issue because many second tier candidates lack 15% viability in some areas. When this happens their supporters are forced to choose another candidate that has at least 15% viability. This becomes significant because it leads to backdoor deals like the one that’s taking place between Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
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A source close to the Biden campaign described a possible arrangement, now under discussion between the two camps, that could apply to certain precincts where Biden can’t meet the 15 percent viability threshold, but where he is backed by local officials with the clout to move Biden supporters to Obama. In return, Biden could capture some of Obama’s overflow in precincts where the Illinois senator has more than enough support to win.
Of course the details are secret, but team Biden knows exactly how much support it needs, and where, for the Delaware senator to finish fourth, ideally in double digits.
…But while Biden was unable to raise the money needed to build the statewide ground organization needed to contend here, he did cultivate key relationships across rural Iowa. And some of these state and local officials have informed the campaign that they are backing Obama as their second choice.
A fourth place finish would not turn Biden into a favorite for the nomination, but it would allow him to participate in the Democratic debate on Saturday in New Hamsphire, one last chance for the political veteran to make his mark.
The Biden source described the possible Obama deal as “viability for victory.” An Obama source confirmed that discussions had taken place, but that nothing had been decided.
And Dennis Kuchnich has publically instructed his staffers to push his supporters to Obama if he doesnt’t reach 15% viability. Is it because Kuchnich supports Obama? Maybe. But apparently not likely:
Just several minutes before we received this statement, NBC/NJ’s Aswini Anburajan received this one from Obama’s New Hampshire spokesman: “The voters of New Hampshire deserve to hear all the Democratic candidates’ views on who can best lead America in a fundamentally new direction, and that’s why I urge these networks to allow full participation in this week’s debate.” As it has been reported, Kucinich — due to ABC’s requirements of either finishing in the top four in Iowa or receiving 5% in NH and national polls — will likely be excluded from this weekend’s New Hampshire debate.
If Obama wins,which seems likely at this point, it’ll be because of backdoor deals and not popular support. The second tier candidates realize that if Clinton wins Iowa then the race is over which is why they’re shifting support to Obama.
Bill Richardson’s campaign realizes this which is why they’re also brokering a deal/making a strategic decision:
Gov. Bill Richardson’s campaign is expected to direct their supporters to caucus for Sen. Barack Obama in the second round of voting at Thursday’s caucuses in precincts where he is not viable. Two sources familiar with the plan told Iowa Independent that the New Mexico Governor’s organizers have been instructed to direct supporters to Obama in the places where they fail to reach the 15% threshold for viability.
But Richardson’s modest gains from diverting second-choice support away from Edwards may be eclipsed by Obama’s potential success on caucus night, should everything go as planned. If Richardson’s field organization manages to direct a significant number of supporters to Obama, it could be enough to win him the Iowa Caucuses.
Richardson would prefer an Obama victory over Clinton because a Clinton victory could end the campaign before New Hampshire voters even head to the polls. And if Edwards’s numbers look weak, Richardson could head to New Hampshire as the best alternative to the top two contenders for the Democratic nomination.