Bernie Sanders puts boots on the ground in Iowa battle with Clinton

Interviews with a half dozen Sanders staffers as they engage with voters on the ground in Iowa reveal a very different, and more confident, mood.

“The Clinton people are acting like they were caught by surprise this week,” says Robert Becker, state director for Sanders. “The kitchen sink is being thrown at us. It screams desperation.” Becker says the “onslaught of attacks” are “mind boggling”.

There is more than a whiff of vindication among older figures like Becker – one of several veteran Sanders operatives who provide a gruff contrast to the starry-eyed young volunteers. He recalls the galvanising effect of seeing the campaign’s early popularity over the summer dismissed by leaders in the local Democratic party establishment.

“We were told that Sanders does not know how to organise, so we printed that out and put it up on a wall,” he says, before rattling off the statistics that prove otherwise.

Becker’s team now has 27 field offices across the state; 101 paid staff; 12,000 volunteers who have done at least some work for the campaign; and 2,200 precinct captains who are trained to help turn out the vote on caucus day. Nationally, Sanders has had more than 2 million donations, providing the funds to currently outspend Clinton in TV and radio advertising in the state.