GRINNELL, Iowa—People are just starting to trickle into the Harris Center here at Grinnell College, where I’ll be observing the caucus here for the next couple of hours. It’s a college town, obviously, so students and faculty are expected to be a big part of the turnout.
The Grinnell population is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Obama seems to be the most popular Democrat. The Republicans on campus can be “counted on two hands,” says one student.
This precinct, Grinnell’s Ward 1, has the most delegates of any precinct in Iowa: 37. The reason is that delegates are allotted based on previous turnout. In 2004, when the caucuses fell during the school year, Grinnell students caucused in droves. As a result, they now have 30 percent more delegates than the next most delegate-rich precinct. So in a sense, these caucus-goers have a lot more power than most.
Don Smith, the precinct captain, gives me a bright green Post-It sticker that marks me as an observer. “You’d be surprised how easy it is to participate,” he tells me. “This process really depends on the honesty of people.”