There are two large questions as the Democratic campaign in Iowa enters its final days. One is whether Sen. Bernie Sanders can generate a significant turnout among first-time caucus attendees. The second is whether the organization that Hillary Clinton has been building there since last spring is sturdy enough to withstand the Sanders insurgency.
The last thing Clinton can afford now is for Sanders to get a head of steam from Iowa and New Hampshire. A pair of victories by the Vermont senator could produce a protracted and, for Clinton, debilitating nomination battle. Even if Clinton were to survive and capture the nomination, she would start the general election as a weakened candidate and with her resources significantly depleted.
That’s why a Clinton victory in the Iowa caucuses is so crucial. A win in Iowa would blunt Sanders’s momentum and provide some insurance against an expected loss in New Hampshire…
The 2008 Clinton operation was handicapped in Iowa by the fact that her national advisers did not understand the caucus process and the perception among Iowa Democrats that they did not care about what they didn’t understand. The current campaign team approached Iowa far more humbly, according to Iowa Democrats, and was determined to build deeper relationships with potential supporters.