January 1st, 2008
04:19 PM ET
13 years ago

Candidates scramble for undecideds


Clinton campaigns in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Mike Roselli/CNN)

DES MOINES (CNN) - Just 48 hours before the Iowa caucuses, there are still enough undecided voters left to hand the race to any of the top candidates.

Democratic and Republican White House hopefuls are spending their days crisscrossing the state to visit rallies, house parties, restaurants - wherever voters can be found. And campaigns and independent groups working here are making aggressive outreach efforts through phone banks and canvassing.

Still, some Iowans just can’t seem to make up their minds. In the new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 17 percent of likely Democratic caucus goers said they are have not yet decided who to vote for, and 11 percent said they were leaning but not definitely decided. More than a quarter of Republican caucus goers said they were still trying to decide, and 21 percent said they were leaning.

So the candidates and their operations are focused on shoring up the commitment of those supporters already in their camp, figuring out how to sway those still trying to decide – and gathering detailed information on individuals in both groups.

Iowa voters are notorious for wanting detailed information of their own: the campaigns distribute detailed position papers at events, and the candidates often answer voters' questions. John Edwards has gone a step further - setting up a special website where voters can submit questions they were not able to ask in person, which he is pledging to get them answered before Thursday night.

One woman attending an Edwards event Monday in Storm Lake said she never had attended a caucus before but said she was likely to do so this year. "I don't like politics," she said, but added that the former North Carolina senator might be able to "change things."

Many people attending Mitt Romney house parties in Ankeny and Clive Tuesday afternoon said they were going to attend a caucus this year for the first time, but had not yet firmly committed.

"I have a desire to see how the process and does work," Julie Donilson said. She said she is going to do more research on the positions of Romney and Mike Huckabee, between whom she is trying to decide. Her husband, Ron, said "it is just absolutely important that we show up and provide input. Both parties are wide open."

All of the campaigns are trying to find the last-minute message that will earn the support of voters like Donilson, and get these new supporters to the caucuses on Thursday.

- CNN’s Kevin Bohn and Mary Snow

Filed under: Iowa
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. court

    I know that hillary is about words and more words and sometimes its about
    more words that i do not understand! I do not see actions nor any difference
    than before she was the senator.
    Her projection is so fake.

    January 2, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  2. Dallas, CA

    It's an IOWA2008 pop quiz!

    Why is everyone in the front row slumping over?

    a) falling asleep at Shrillary's message
    b) knocked unconcious by the fumes of Chelsea's hairspray
    c) looking through their purses for Bill's last shred of dignity
    d) praying for Barack to win

    January 2, 2008 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  3. Steven

    We're in a terminal global climate crisis. This should be the number one issue when headed out to vote. When entire continents are going under water, nothing else will matter.

    January 2, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  4. Gavin, Merrillville, Indiana

    Hillary Rodham Clinton will take it –she's viable, electable, experienced, and tough. She can take the GOP down......Little Barry Obama will get smashed by the GOP.

    January 2, 2008 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  5. Joe

    I feel that Hillary is a very competent senator. I believe she has good intentions toward helping people. I contend that Hillary would be JFK next to Bush, but her problem in my humble opinion is that she is running for president and not for the US Senate.
    Hillary has passed bipartisen legislation in the Senate, for example, she exspanded health care benifits for US Military Reserves. Exspanding health care benifits is tough legislation so is ehtics reform and it took 3 years for her to get health care benifits for Reserves passed, while it took Obama one year to pass, arguably the toughest ethics reform ever in Washington.
    Hillary has a very parochial platform that is essentially a domestic agenda, which makes it perplexing that she is running for president when the agenda for the next president will mostly pertain to forien affairs. Hillary ceeds most of her forien affairs queries to the notion of sending Bill all over the world as a forien ambassador, which is problematic for two primary reasons: One, she is the president not him, Second, you could see the story lines if he reverts back to his old womanizing ways, of which are not ancient history and the ramifications need no explination.
    Hillary has good intentions but they are tempered with unrelenting almost but not quite complicict ambition; an example to qualify this assertion would be her own admission to not reading the Iraq intelligence reports before authorizing the war with her vote. Bottomline: Hillary is a Yale trained lawyer there is no way she looks at the flimsy evidence at best of going to war with Iraq and deem it justifiable enough to ratify the Iraq war resolution. She did not read it for two reasons one she know what it said and did not want to risk looking weak in a future presidential bid on terror and needed credibility in toughness, because the political landscape at the time was one where Bush had declared a precieved success in Iraq. It would have been politically risky to stand up against a popular war and president at the time. Hillary the consumate tactician, gave herself room if the war did not go as best hoped by saying she did not read the Iraq intelligence report before authorizing the Iraq War Resolution. Hillary did this on the pretext Bush gave her his word everything was in order in going to Iraq making him the fall guy ,while exonerating herself of misjudgement while keep the mantle of toughness. This assertion is tipified when she says things like "If I knew now what I had known then..." Maybe if she had read the intelligence report and listened intently to both sides of the arguement on invading Iraq then she would have known then what she knows now in relation to Iraq. All that said Hillary has good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
    P.S. John Edwards is a flop flopper waiting to be swiftboated, because is voting record is closer to being conservative than liberal or even centrist, essentially his voting record does not square with his contempory rhetoric.

    January 2, 2008 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  6. Roy

    We need to make our own decision and quit listening to the media polls. I know that I am not going to decide by what the media polls say.

    I have to be cautious about Obama, what does the people know what he does behind close doors
    ? And trust me I know from a friend in Illinois what he told me.

    For Edwards he's an ambulance chaser.

    Clinton, she needs to quit flip flopping.

    As for the Republicans, they will just make the economy get even worse.

    Bloomberg, I wish you were running.

    January 2, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  7. donald newton

    For whom you vote for that is your business. But just remember we put George Bush into office with no experience in foreign affairs or anything. Look what has happen to the world. We are hated by everybody 9 trillion dollat debt the Chinese hold over a trillon dollars of our money. So if i was going to vote in Iowa i would vote instead of someone who has 2 years in the Senate no knowledge of foreign affairs just speaks what his campain tells him to or Hillary Clinton who has years of foreign affairs knowledge has worked for children throughout this country for over 17 years and is the only one other than Joe Biden who can get us out of this mess we are in. Dont listen to what the canidates are promises you in 2 years but who is best for the job

    January 2, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  8. Ike Woodbridge VA

    Hillary will pull this off. She is the most experienced, and she has what it takes to beat back the Republican political destroyer machine. If Democrats out there believe for a second that Obama will win the general election, they might as well believe that elephants fly. If Obama wins the nomination, this year's election will be over by the beginning of March. The Republicans will eat him alive rigth after Super Tuesday. Hillary on the other hand has been tested and vetted by the Republicans. They are afraid of her because they know that she will win. Please vote for Hillary if you want a Democrat to occupy the white House on January 09.

    January 2, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  9. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    I still am betting on the come-back-kid McCain for the Republican nominee, now that DIRTY TRICKS Dubya Bush Jr. and Karl Rove are no more!!!!

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/

    "Ajay", You made a good point about McCain and then you ruin your credibility by having a "Go Hillary" at the bottom of your posting.

    The ONLY people that play politics dirtier than Karl Rove are the Clinton's, who are the so called "dirtiest players in the game".

    Just this election cycle who has had the MOST surrogates do their dirty work and then be forced to resign or apologize?

    Whose has been husband has been part of those surrogates that are speading hate and lies about Obama in particular?

    Who has had the most planted questions or actual planted people?

    Who is allowed to say one thing at one debate and another totally different thing at the very next debate (I was for the illegal's getting licenses, before I was against them with a simple NO answer being allowed).

    You are also right "Ajay" about the elections in 2008 being different, the Clinton's still think they can pull off their 1990's tricks and FOOL EVERYONE, but thanks to Al Gore inventing the internet, only the uninformed sheep can't see through their deceptive and deceitful LIES.

    We non-sheep call it the Clinton's "business as usual".

    January 2, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. Jerome Jackson Sr.

    If you are considering Obama, PLEASE research! Your county deserves better that a player like obamawinphrey!

    I think it’s a big mistake to believe that obama will win because older Americans will not come out in bad weather to support another candidate like Hillary or Edwards! I’m 67 yr old mixed race man and I can tell you that the older generation is wide awake and very much realizes we need the experience and not a snake oil salesman that needs a TV talk show host to get noticed, obama is just yelling with no substance. Its obvious in EVERY debate he kept losing his thoughts in the middle of making one, (pay attention to all the “ahhs” and “umms” he says between words, sign he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he can't remember what is “written for him”(not a leader) he’s running on Hillary and Edwards solutions. Notice also, once the media has begun to report his short comings, oprah is no where in sight, feeling pretty foolish at this point id imagine.

    He did not show up to vote in the senate often in his short time there, missed 130 votes out of 153! bashes ALL the other 72 senators who voted for the war based on the intelligence they were provided by OUR PRESIDENT, but he will not answer any reporter on how we would voted at the time. But his record after fact shows he supports the war, voted twice in 2006 against bringing America's troops back home. He votes for war appropriations giving our money to Halliburton and Blackwater. His latest bit of posturing S 433 allows the Bush Administration to suspend any troop withdrawal!!!!Which if not suspended, still keeps the troops in Iraq for a long time to come? Obama when faced with tough choices always gave in to pressure from the Bush administration or corporate lobbyists. Such as Obama voted for Bush's energy bill, sending more than $13 billion in subsidies and tax breaks to oil, coal, and nuclear companies. Obama voted with Republicans to allow credit card companies to raise interest rates over 30 percent, increasing hardship for families. Obama voted for one of Bush's top priorities – expanding Nafta to South America – even as President Bush obstructed all the top Democratic priorities. Obama voted with Bush to make it harder for ordinary people to hold big corporations accountable when they do things like sell toxic toys, poisonous pet food, or just plain rip you off. Obama was the Senate's biggest Democratic advocate of subsidies for liquid coal, even though liquid coal produces twice the global warming pollution of the crude oil it's meant to replace (Obama "backed off" this position after being pummeled by environmentalists for several months, but still voted for increased subsidies, albeit with conditions)

    Obama, a Hamiltonian believer in free trade and supporters of globalization has lent his support to the "Hamilton Project formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and other 'Wall Street Democrats' to counter populist rebellion against corporate tendencies within the Democratic Party. Obama provided assistance to pro-war candidates (such as Joe Lieberman). Obama voted for "business-friendly 'tort reform' bill that rolls back working peoples' ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation...from corporations!!! Obama considers single payer universal health care too socialist and has stated that he prefers voluntary solutions. He has no substance. He has provided no solution to any problem until Hillary, Edwards or even Mitt Romey publically expresses theirs, then he copies, He’s been constantly negative with everyone.

    Early on supporters were mad that race was initially talked about, but they insisted it wasn’t fair that he isn’t BLACK he is MIXED RACE! I highly recommend you check out his church websitehttp://www.tucc.org/about.htm. "I'm a black guy running for president named Barack Obama. I must be hopeful." said obama in a speech in Iowa.
    Now he’s claims hes just BLACK again trying to make fools of black voters. I have no respect for a man that is ashamed of his heritage and his parents. An ex-drug addict (per his words JUNKIE) that’s not someone who smoked pot, inhaled or not, a junkie is a person who had a serious addiction to harsher drugs. I do not trust he won’t fall backwards and start using again. In fact doesn’t his wife always look wired???? Makes you say hum…Is that the type of person you trust your great country too. He is a disgusting example for our youth. Michelle proves she is racist with every sentence she speaks. The younger ones who you claim only support obama have not gone through the problems with health care, the cost of prescriptions, struggling to pay home loans insurances and frankly keeping a job. Per polls young obama supporters live at home or on campus and have no idea what’s really at stake with our country, but when he cannot handle foreign policies and they find themselves drafted! they will feel mighty stupid! I suggest that the young and old voters RESEARCH before you vote it’s very important. Look how bush/Chaney destroyed the country that BILL CLINTON left behind, no debt, we had jobs and the housing markets were moving forward. I URGE ALL TO GET INFORMED BEFORE YOU CAST THAT IMPORTANT VOTE; YOUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT!

    January 2, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. demwit

    Hillary's foreign policy experience was on full display this weekend. What a dimwit..

    January 2, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Obama 08

    I think a "surge" by John McCain is a good thing for Democrats. I don't know why voters think Obama would have trouble with defeating him. He is just more of Bush with more honor. Two more brave American soldiers died over the weekend for a unwarrented war that McCain supports! This war has made Americans less safe.

    Time for these longtime politicians with old, tired views of the world to retire!

    January 2, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. nadeem

    EXCLUSIVE! Mayor Rickard to vote for Obama
    The Brooklyn Paper
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    Brooklyn, Iowa, in the heartland between Dubuque and Des Moines, is known as "the community of flags." These photos were taken by The Brooklyn Paper staff during a visit in 2005.
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    BROOKLYN, IOWA — The longtime Republican mayor of this tiny heartland town will stun his neighbors — and send shockwaves that will reach his countrymen in the real Brooklyn — when he breaks ranks with the GOP to vote for Sen. Barack Obama at the Iowa caucuses this Thursday night.
    “After eight years of this administration, I’ve had it,” Mayor Loren Rickard told The Brooklyn Paper, which sent a reporter to Brooklyn, Iowa — population 1,200 — for the “first-in-the-nation” caucus.

    “We’ve got a currency that’s practically worthless and a war without end,” he added. “I thought they were crazy to start the war with Iraq — and crazier that they didn’t even seem to have a plan to fight it.”

    And Rickard said he’s not only dissatisfied with the president, but with his would-be successors.

    “I’ve been a moderate Republican all my life and I simply don’t recognize these people [the GOP field],” he said. “Meanwhile, the Democrats have six solid candidates — though I think [Dennis] Kucinich is a bit out there.”

    Rickard singled out Joe Biden and Obama for praise — but said he wouldn’t back Biden because “he can’t win.”

    Few in the farming town in eastern Iowa know that their third-term Republican mayor will side with the Democrats on Thursday. And it might not have happened were it not for the efforts of Obama supporter, Bev Rens.

    “I held a house party for Obama and [the mayor] came with his son, Joel,” said Rens, the Poweshiek County Democratic Party co-chair. “He listened to what I had to say and he pledged to vote for Obama that night. It sent a shiver through me!”

    Rens said she also scored the mayor’s son, who was originally backing New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

    The Republican crossovers were no surprise to Brooklyn (Iowa) Chronicle Editor Sky Eilers.

    “There are many Republicans in Iowa who feel that their party is in trouble in November, but they also don’t want to see Hillary be president, so they’re switching parties to back other Democrats,” said Eilers. “Hillary has had the biggest machine behind her here. Some people feel she’s buying her way through the process while Obama is appealing to the grassroots, which is what you have here in Brooklyn.”

    Eilers didn’t think Rickard’s betrayal of party would send a shockwave through the town.

    “Shockwave? In Brooklyn [Iowa]? I don’t think so,” Eilers said.

    But he did think many eyes would be following Rickard as he entered the Democratic, rather than Republican, caucus.

    “He is very well respected here, so people will certainly talk about it,” he said.

    Under Iowa election law, registered voters can switch their party affiliation on caucus night, which Rickard said he would do by signing in as a Democrat at Thursday’s gathering at the Brooklyn-Guernsey-Malcolm elementary school.

    Despite the excitement over the presidential election, the caucus process in Brooklyn is subdued, Rens said. In some years, only a handful of Democrats and Republicans have gathered, she said.

    “I started in 1988 and was caucusing for Jesse Jackson,” she said. “There was six or seven people there, total.”

    But this year, turnout is expected to be high at both party caucuses. The Republicans will gather at 6:30 pm and begin with a straw poll of all voters in attendance, while Democrats start a half-hour later — and dig in for an arduous process.

    First, supporters of each candidate get to make a presentation, hoping to sway the undecided. Then, a vote is taken. Candidates who receive 15 percent or more are considered “viable,” and move forward to a second round of voting. Supporters of “non-viable” candidates can shift their allegiance to one of the viable candidates or form alliances with supporters of other “non-viable” candidates before the second round.

    January 2, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Ginny, Byron, CA

    If Obama gets the nomination, the Republicans get the White House!

    January 2, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Andrew Smith, Haslett, MI

    Iowa needs a President with enough experience to facilitate change. Ron Paul is the only candidate with the experience our nation needs to heal after the disasterous 8 years.

    Here, I fixed this for you. Don't be fooled by these liars, panderers and big government spenders. Don't let the media choose your candidates for you. If you want real change (and not just the idea of change that Obama likes to tell you) then go for the only anti-war, anti-welfare, anti-abortion, anti-spending, anti-tax candidate in the race.

    Go Ron Paul!

    January 2, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Keith Jarrell, Washington DC

    Vote for anyone other than Hillary, there is no issue more IMPORTANT!

    January 3, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
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