In Iowa, Organization Matters

In Iowa, caucus campaigns are won and lost AWAY from the podium where the candidate is speaking.

"What I look for is are they actually signing people up?...and how do they actually do that?", says Craig Robinson, founder of the political blog TheIowaRepublican.com.

Robinson explains successful caucus efforts are often won and lost at the campaign events by staffers and volunteers working the crowds. What they're after is names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. That contact data is gold.

"And as fast as you can," says Robinson, "you need to get it to your campaign office, so they can have a staffer follow-up."

Then, the barrage of contact is on.

"If they'll share an e-mail and a phone number with us...we will absolutely stay in touch. Give 'em a call and encourage 'em to come out on caucus night," says David Fischer, vice-chairman of Ron Paul's Iowa campaign.

At this stage, each week caucus campaigns are expected to be making tens of thousands of phone calls to potential caucus-goers. It is not unusual for a single Iowa household to get a half-dozen or more calls every evening from competing campaigns that have also plumbed the depth of voter registration information.

Ron Paul's campaign is viewed in Iowa as having built the best organization.

"Very strong," says Chuck Launder who consults for the Rick Santorum campaign, "Ron Paul has been at it for four or five years. You gotta give those guys their credit."

Most other campaigns are playing catch up. Newt Gingrich's campaign has the most Iowa offices with five, all opened in the last month. A strike-force of paid staff from other states have been flown in to boost Rick Perry's final week push.

The caucus-savvy campaign behind Michele Bachmann has already demonstrated an ability to turn-out voters with her August victory in the Iowa Straw Poll. Rick Santorum has cobbled together a swath of Mike Huckabee supporters who powered the former Arkansas governor to victory in the 2008 Republican caucuses.

Then, toss in Mitt Romney and his year-long series of telephone town-halls which he's used to maintain contact with his '08 backers.

And while the stream of television ads may grab the attention of many folks, it'll be those phones call and door-knocking campaigns that are expected to be the real

Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.