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It’s time to caucus in Iowa

Don’t fail to express your choice for president on Monday

Iowa’s presidential nominating caucuses get enormous attention from the national news media and respected political pundits because they come at the very start of the presidential campaign. Not very many convention delegates are at stake. Even so, a candidate who does well here gets a big publicity boost heading into the large-state primaries that determine who each party will nominate.

It has become accepted wisdom in political circles that a serious presidential aspirant must have a strategy for mobilizing support in the Hawkeye State. Candidates who don’t expect to do well here frequently develop elaborate explanations of why failure to win the hearts of Iowa voters shouldn’t be deemed fatal to their chances.

The importance Iowa’s presidential nominating caucuses have assumed in the last few decades presents people who live in Iowa with a truly remarkable opportunity — the chance to take a hard, up-close look at a future president of the United States.

If Iowans had any uncertainty about the importance of our state’s nominating caucuses, the attention presidential contenders have devoted to potential caucusgoers should have dispelled those doubts. It is only a slight exaggeration to claim that during the last few weeks those of us who live here could hardly leave our homes without encountering a would-be president. At times television has seemed to be almost nonstop political coverage. By now, many of us can virtually recite some of the candidates’ commercials by heart.

The rather arcane nature of Iowa’s caucuses poses candidates with a tough challenge. They must convince a substantial number of Iowans to show up at public meetings on a cold February evening to express support for their favored contender. The process is both more public and demands more time than simply stopping by a polling place to cast a ballot.

To build the type of loyalty and enthusiasm that translates into caucus attendance, it is necessary to do more than just run television commercials. To be successful, candidates must expend the time and energy to court supporters face-to-face. Soon, America will find out how Iowans rate the presidential aspirants.

The myriad opinion polls make it quite clear that Democratic race for the nomination is quite competitive. That appears to be true both in Iowa and nationally.

Consequently, those Iowans who choose to participate in a caucus Monday evening have the opportunity to influence the presidential race greatly. The candidates who do well here will improve their prospects as they head for the delegate-rich primaries just a few weeks hence.

The good fortune of living in Iowa provides each of us with an exceptional chance to get close to history as it unfolds. The caucuses also afford a truly unique chance to shape tomorrow. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity. Take the time to caucus Monday evening.