Forget the Polls - Grassroots Muscle Rules in Iowa
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - The nation's first caucuses are just two weeks away and the Republican presidential race is truly too close to call.
Although front-runner Newt Gingrich appears to be slipping, polls are not everything when it comes to Iowa. In the past, a campaign's organizational muscle has proven to be essential.
Unlike primaries, in a caucus, people head to local gymnasiums to nominate their favorite candidates and then convince others to vote for them.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul's campaign is running strong in Iowa because of a strong traditional model, which means he may be able to drag some first-time voters to the caucus.
"We've got people throughout the state that are stepping forward and leading their precincts and counties and doing a fabulous job," said A.J. Striker, Paul's Iowa vice chairman.
"When you have a great message and then you've got people coming to your events, you can build infrastructure for the caucuses," he explained.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's staff has brought in 10 additional workers to compete.
Sitting aboard his bus, he told CBN News he's hoping that millions in TV ads and a two-week bus tour through the state will make a big difference.
"As more people really understand Rick Perry, my record and my vision for this country, I'm very comfortable at the end of the day when Jan. 3 comes along, we're going to have a lot of people caucusing for us," Perry said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who doesn't have the funds for expensive TV spots, is instead relying on a vast network of evangelical pastors.
"I'm willing to take time out of my schedule to go around the state and convince people that she is the one who is the most biblically qualified to run this country," one pastor said.
Both Bachmann and Rick Santorum have also tapped into the state's vast homeschool network. In 2008, Mike Huckabee rode those organizational forces to victory.
"She will talk about why homeschoolers are vital to a campaign's organization," said Barb Hecki, Bachmann's homeschool coordinator.
As for the front-runners, Newt Gingrich doesn't have too much presence in the Hawkeye State.
The former House speaker is relying mostly on his debate performances and hopes growing enthusiasm for his candidacy will translate into success.
While that strategy worked for Mike Huckabee in 2008, it's a risky proposition for Gingrich.
Former Massachusetts Gov.Mitt Romney has spent limited time in Iowa, with just a few full-time staffers on the ground. But he still has a dedicated volunteer army from his 2008 presidential effort.
"I need your help at the caucus," Romney told Iowa voters. "I know that… the caucus site gets full, so get there early. I need you guys to get there. I'd love to have your support and vote at the caucus."
Romney, like Gingrich, is banking on an established profile and national media attention to help his campaign.
Lots of different tactics are being used by different candidates all hoping to make a splash in Iowa come Jan. 3.