100 days from the Iowa caucus, expect the unexpected

The first major nominating contest of the 2016 race takes places in just 100 days. If one week can see the Democratic Party lose three possible presidential choices, the race to Feb. 1 is undoubtedly going to be filled with its share of political fireworks.

In the span of a week, candidates on the Democratic and Republican sides will make their case to caucus-goers at two key events. Saturday, the winnowed Democratic field will address the Jefferson-Jackson dinner and the following week Republican candidates will converge for the first "Growth and Opportunity Party."

The Jefferson-Jackson dinner is a critical Democratic fundraiser and proved to be a pivotal moment in the 2008 campaign. It was at this event in 2007, when then-Sen. Barack Obama stole the show from Hillary Clinton. For the candidates it is just as much a political pageant as it is a moment to display their organizational prowess. Such was the case in 1975, when the dinner helped propel Jimmy Carter to front-runner status. Candidates like Bernie Sanders are hoping the event can put a spotlight on their growing grassroots support.

As the clock continues to tick to the Iowa caucus, candidates and the electorate are reminded just how much 100 days can make a difference. Most political experts predicted a bust to billionaire businessman Donald Trump's rise and few would have predicted the departure of Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., from the race. For political observers, the next 100 days will be telling as the candidate's fundraising and organizational strength are tested along with their ability to snag key endorsements.

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