Perry bets Iowa fortunes on robust ground game
December 31st, 2011
02:48 PM ET
11 years ago

Perry bets Iowa fortunes on robust ground game

Boone, Iowa (CNN) - Even as they grapple with mediocre poll numbers, a gaffe-prone candidate and internal staff feuding, Rick Perry's advisers are confident that a top-three caucus finish is within reach on Tuesday.

The reason? Organization.

Aside from Iowa frontrunners Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, Perry is thought to be the only Republican candidate here with the kind of sophisticated ground game to pull off a much-needed comeback.

And with public and internal polling from various campaigns showing the fight for third place to be a fluid one between Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Perry, a robust organization can mean the difference between a ticket home and a ticket to New Hampshire.

There are 1,774 Republican caucus precincts around the state, 900 of which are combined and held at the same location.

As of Friday, the Texas governor had signed up 1,500 precinct leaders in Iowa, a source inside the Perry campaign told CNN.

The source requested anonymity because staffers are not authorized to reveal the information.

The Perry camp also has 470 out-of-state volunteers descending on Iowa this weekend (including Perry's own family, which flew in on Friday).

The source said that by caucus night, "we will easily have over 2,000 Perry volunteers" fanning out across the state knocking on doors and speaking for Perry at their voting sites.

That means roughly 95% of caucus locations will hear from a representative from the Perry campaign on Tuesday night, the source added.

Campaigns in Iowa do not typically reveal their precinct leader figures, mainly to keep caucus night expectations in check.

But those leaders - regular men and women who sign up with a campaign to speak for their preferred candidate at their local precincts - play a crucial role on caucus night.

"The best example of organization on caucus night is who the candidates have as their surrogate speaker in their precincts," said Iowa Republican Party chairman Matthew Strawn. "When you have a third of the electorate persuadable to change, the people they have standing up in each precinct for their candidate becomes real important."

The Romney campaign will not share its number of precinct captains, and the Paul campaign has closely guarded the details of its grassroots operation.

"We don't share any of that information," Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton said.

Santorum's late-blooming campaign, which is hoping for a more organic turnout based on the candidate's appeal to social conservatives and evangelicals, was more forthcoming.

"We have over 1,000 precinct captains," Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo told CNN earlier this week, a number that could spike in the wake of his late surge in the polls.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Rick Perry
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Carol

    Ron Paul is pretty amazing.

    January 1, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  2. Rand

    It's not fair that Ron Paul is running Republican. He should be independent.

    January 1, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  3. Franny

    Perry won't give up, because he's got an ego the size of Texas. He doesn't care how much it costs us tax payers here in Texas. Good grief, 100,000 for security a month. Believe me when I say that Slick Rick Preacher Perry has hurt many in this State. What an embarassment to those of us that would never ever vote for this yahoo! The only reason he won the last election here in Texas was because he refused to debate White. this man is dangerous when he opens his mouth, and I'm really glad the American People got to see his apparently ignorant side!

    January 1, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. Franny

    Indy, I have to disagree with your outcome.I predict Romney, Santorium, Paul, Perry, Gingrich, and Bachmann. Too many Evangelicals voting, but Romney has the most moolah!

    January 1, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  5. madmaninthemiddle

    Gingrich has no organization, so he won't take third. Ground game counts more than poles in Iowa.

    January 1, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. Marie MD

    I thought he didn't bet. I feel sorry for some of the people of Iowa. Never in recent history has the list of clowns trying to be the teapublikan presidential candidate been as sorry bu tt!

    January 1, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  7. nancy

    Great work by team Perry. I hope Iowans will seriously consider voting for him. . This Country needs someone to step up and take charge of our Country once again. The only one with a resume to do this is Gov. Perry who is not only conservative but talks the talk AND walks the walk. If Congress is the problem then why elect someone from Congress as POTUS? The Dems DO NOT want to run against Rick Perry (witness what the WH has been doing to TX). How could they possibly put his record up against Obama's? No debates needed – facts are facts. There are no videos out there of Perry changing positions over and over, Perry is still married to his wonderful wife, Perry is a true Christian......need I say more? Perry has now recovered and is proving to be the excellent retail campaigner he was reputed to be. It's time to put the "stupid" and "can't debate" labels aside and realize he's the best alternative to Romney of those we have to choose from, and after all, that's what this is really all about.

    January 1, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. Indy

    At least we both know for certain Bachmann is going to be dead last !! The rest is going to be interesting for sure. I actually like your picks as they are evangelical votes for the most part so you may have this one, although I still think Paul will win and Willard second. Cheers and Happy New Years one and all !

    January 1, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. NoTags

    Reading what Nancy posted at 9:55AM it obvious to me that some of the 470 "out of state" Perry volunteers found this blog.

    January 1, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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