For politics junkies, this is the fucking March Madness of presidential campaigns. This is the playoffs, baby. And this year is proving to provide a hell of a match-up. On both sides of the political divide we have dead heat races that are impossible to call.
On the Republican side, there's Huckabee thrashing about in a religious fever to drum up the Christian vote against that Mormon interloper Mitt Romney. Defying the obituaries that have been written over the last six months, old John McCain is suddenly surging again and might just pull off an upset that would surely replace Bill Clinton as the Comeback Kid. Rudy? Who the fuck is Rudy? Don't ask anyone in Iowa or New Hampshire because that Big City greaser skipped the small time and went straight out to the big electoral states in a gamble that would turn primary politics on its head if it works. The only sure loser seems to be Fred Thompson whose campaign has flopped like a soft turd on hot cement. Let's hope he just limps back to TV and saves us all from his phony homestylings.
The Dems are the real horserace though. Depending on which poll you read, Clinton is either up by tfour or down by one. Edwards has a late game surge going on that would completely fuck Hillary's New Hampshire firewall and give Barack Obama a late Christmas gift big enough to ensure at least a thank you card if not a bottle of Scotch and a pair of slippers. The whispers right now are that Obama peaked too soon, which is an indication of just how fluid this race is when just last week we were all talking about his brilliant timing.
What makes the Iowa caucus so difficult to call is that the process itself makes little sense to political novices—seriously, read Hunter S. Thompson's explanation in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and tell me you don't walk away wondering how this country has made it thus far—but it's a process that depends on organization. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson sums it up best with a personal anecdote:
To paint one small picture of late-game retail politics in action: My step-brother, an elementary school principal in Muscatine had been wavering between Clinton and Obama, leaning toward Barack ... until he got a personal phone call at home from Terry McAuliffe, the former DNC chair, asking him to be a precinct captain for Hillary.
According to my stepmother "Hillary got a captain and a voter. He couldn't resist being asked like that."
Buying one vote at a time with ceremonial positions. God Bless America!