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The Turnout Game

The earliest anecdotal evidence suggests turnout--at least on the Democrat side-- is looking very high. That report comes via some Obama poll-watchers checking in highly populated caucus locations.

Decent temperatures will help. The mercury is slightly above the "Tinkle freezes before it hits the ground," which is where it had been sitting stubbornly for weeks:
As Iowans prepared to caucus in schools, churches and community centers, election experts predicted record turnout here - thanks in part to a warming trend which had the weather at a sunny 24 degrees, a heat wave compared to brisk weather in the single digits earlier in the week.
Here are some of the treats offered for those who do come out:
The persuasive power of rhetoric was suddenly yielding in importance to the availability of baby sitters to help people get to the caucuses.

Campaigns were ready with snow shovels if needed, and used the phone and Facebook online to encourage voters. Romney said his campaign made 12,000 calls on Sunday alone.

Obama, from Illinois, recommended longjohns as he sent people door to door. Clinton, in her historic run to become the first female president, served bagels, fruit and coffee to Des Moines volunteers Wednesday. The New York senator said of the biting cold, "I know if you're here from Iowa to help me, this is like, nothing."

It's gotta be great to be an Iowa voter, being pandered to virtually on command, with refreshments! Democrats are expecting between 120 and 150K voters tonight; Republicans around 80K, according to estimates.

Iowa turnout facts from Marc Ambinder
** 122,193 Democrats turned out in 2004.

** The 2006 primary election turned out 184,000 Democrats.

** Don't automatically assume that high turnout helps Barack Obama or assume that an increase in turnout comes from independents. Democrats, too, could caucus in record numbers, which helps the two candidates who are banking on them: Edwards and Clinton.

** There were approximately 500,000 Dems on the voter file who did not caucus in 2000 or 2004. There are 600,000 independents who tend to have weak vote history, especially in primaries.

** 17,000 to 22,000 independents became Democrats and caucused in 2004, according to estimates.

** About 1,500 Republicans turned out.
Jim Geraghty notes that the huge turnout advantage for Dems is happening despite a roughly equivalent number  (575K vs. 602K for Republicans and Dems, respectively) of registered Republicans and Dems.

Predictions are that Independents will turn out for Dems
, not Republicans, which is one of the reasons I think Fred can pull off a third-place finish over McCain, who would have gotten  much of his newfound support from those Indies.

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