Patrick Ruffini
On Iowa Caucus night, I'd like to launch a little experiment in citizen journalism.

Mobile technology allows anybody to communicate from anywhere, including from inside a caucus. Any caucusgoer can become a citizen reporter, relaying key facts to the outside world instantaneously. I'd like to recruit an army of caucus insiders -- both Republicans and Democrats -- to report results instantly and share tidbits on what the campaigns are doing to sway last-minute undecideds. The Caucuses are unique in that one's vote is public, and there is much cajoling that goes on inside -- especially on the Democratic side, where raw vote totals aren't even made public.

There are three ways you can participate:
  1. Twitter. Sign up for the public instant messaging service Twitter for Caucus night, activate the mobile feature, and text in your Caucus results to 40404, and make sure you include the words "caucus" or "@iowacaucus" in your report. Sign up as a follower of this effort on Twitter as well, and we'll be able to send you mobile alerts with results as your caucus is in progress.
  2. E-mail. E-mail in your results, reports, and tips to through your Blackberry or PDA. E-mail is easier for a lot of folks than texting (this is true for me, old fogey that I am).
  3. Text/SMS. I am also considering making a phone number available for text messages from folks with regular phones who don't want to get the Twitter updates. Please email to sign up and request access to this number.
These reports will be relayed in our caucus night coverage. If there are enough reporters, we'll also be publishing aggregate results we've received for the Republican and Democratic caucuses (including pre-viability numbers for the Democrats). We'll also have Iowa demographic statistics at our fingertips to be able to appropriately weight the results if necessary.

If you're planning on participating in this in any way, just shoot over an e-mail. If you're on Facebook, please join our group.

Why do this? Frankly, the media exit polls (in this case entrance polls) have shown they can't be trusted, even in 2006. In many ways, they were just as inaccurate as 2004 (Jim Webb taking Virginia by 7, for instance). I'd like to see if this (admittedly unscientific) process can come close or do better. Since the caucuses happen in a compressed time period and a closed environment, there is little risk that publishing early numbers will affect the outcome. We couldn't do this in a normal primary election, for example.

To join the fun and get the final word on the Iowa caucuses, email and follow us.

Patrick Ruffini

Patrick Ruffini is an online strategist dedicated to helping Republicans and conservatives achieve dominance in a networked era. He has seen American politics from every vantagepoint — as a campaign staffer, activist, and analyst.