A Sense of Proportion [Corrected]

Tomorrow’s headlines will most likely include some version of “Clinton placed third.” And that’s true. But here’s a thought on the Grinnell caucus to put that statement into perspective.

John Edwards just barely edged out Hillary statewide, 30 percent to 29 percent. That means he got only seven more delegates than she did, 744 to 737.

In the Grinnell Ward 1 caucus I attended, Hillary had 44 supporters. She needed 73 to reach the 15 percent viability threshold. Had she been viable, she would have received at least six of the precinct’s 37 delegates. In other words, had 30 more Grinnell residents turned out for Hillary and 30 less for Edwards, she would have tied John Edwards for second in the state.

To speculate even further: Keep in mind that Hillary was the only major Democratic candidate not to come speak at Grinnell College. The students I talked to figured that was a deliberate decision, most likely reacting to the fact that the famous Clinton “plant” was Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, Grinnell ’10. Still, many saw it as a slight. It’s not a stretch to imagine that a personal visit would have won her 30 more caucusgoers.

One more campaign stop ? 30 more caucus-goers ? six more delegates ? tie for second in the Iowa caucuses. And this was just one caucus. Similar stories could have played out in any of the state’s 1,784 precincts.

When you look closely, it really starts to look like the butterfly flapping its wings.

Read the rest of our Grinnell caucus liveblog here .

Correction: Vigilant Fraysters point out that the math here is wrong. And it looks likethey’re right. The vote totals from last night – 744 for Edwards, 737for Clinton – are State Delegate Equivalents (SDE), not precinct delegates.In fact, one precinct delegate is equivalent to about .11 SDE, as youcan see on the caucus results page here .That meansthat 30 more Clinton supporters in Grinnell would not have given hersix more state delegates. It would have given her at most one. And thatwould not have come close to helping her tie with Edwards. My apologiesfor the fuzzy math.