Rock the Caucus

One fascinating aspect of the antiquated, convoluted Iowa caucus system is that each candidate has to teach his or her own supporters how to, er, caucus. (’Tis the season where caucus becomes a verb.) The state parties also hold training sessions, but for the most part it’s up to the candidates to make sure people know how it works.

So far, Hillary and Obama have led the charge. Hillary released a web video earlier this month called “Caucusing Is Easy,” that explains which forms to fill out and what to do once you show up to the caucus. “It’s usually over early enough to get back for your favorite TV show,” says one lady. Unless, of course, your favorite TV show is the Orange Bowl .

Obama, meanwhile, has recruited a team of 73 “Caucus Pros” to train first-time caucus-goers across the state. But given that Obama’s Iowa organization depends largely on mobilizing younger voters, it seems bizarre that the average Caucus Pro is 62 years old . (The youngest is a sprightly 41.) If it’s young bodies they want, why not have Amber Lee Ettinger run the training? Obama also has his own caucusing-made-easy site .

While John Edwards has no high-profile caucus training program, he does have two big advantages: One is the Services Employees International Union, which endorsed Edwards in Iowa last month and has 2,000 workers it can mobilize in that state on his behalf. The other is that the majority of Edwards supporters have caucused before , compared to about half of Hillary and Obama supporters, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post survey. So on the one hand, he seems to have a less developed caucus training program; but on the other, Ed-heads already know how it’s done.

Republican candidates have an easier a job, since the GOP caucuses are much simpler: Show up, talk about your favorite candidate, vote, and you’re done. There’s none of the complicated group-forming and re-forming the Democrats deal with. It makes you wonder why they don’t just suck in their pride and call it a primary.