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Clinton non-viable in student precincts
Hillary Clinton’s campaign may have paid a price for questioning students’ right to caucus, as she failed to reach the 15 percent viability threshold in campus precincts in Iowa City, Ames and Grinnell in Thursday’s caucuses.
Barack Obama swept those same precincts while winning 57 percent of a record turnout of Democrats under age 30 to Clinton’s 11 percent. Obama actively pursued the youth vote, encouraging Iowa students who would be out of town for the mid-break caucuses to caucuses in their parents’ towns, and asking students whose parents lived out of state to come back on caucus night. The effort drew attacks from other campaigns, most notably Clinton’s. The Clinton campaign, and other critics of caucusing by out of state students, acknowledged that it is perfectly legal for students who reside most of the year in Iowa to register to vote and to participate in the caucuses. But they weren’t encouraging. Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee offered a blunt, “The Iowa caucus ought to be for Iowans.”
“We’re talking about Iowa students caucusing in the Iowa caucuses,” Obama said during a Dec. 4 Iowa City campus stop. “As residents of Iowa, we should be encouraging them to caucus, and if they are away for the holidays, we should be encouraging to them to come back.”
The Clinton campaign also famously dismissed young voters at the November Jefferson Jackson Dinner, where top strategists Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn were quoted saying, “Our people look like caucus-goers, and (Obama’s) people look like they are 18. They look like Facebook.”
Clinton was non-viable in Iowa City’s two dorm-dominated precincts, 3 and 5. She was also non-viable in the entire core of downtown Iowa City, including the main student apartment precincts (11, 19 and 20) and in precinct 21, a mixed student-townie precinct so liberal that George W. Bush finished third, behind Ralph Nader, in 2000. Turnout was down from 2004 in the dorm precincts, where residence halls were closed, but was up significantly in the off-campus student precincts.
Hillary Clinton did not make an on-campus University of Iowa stop before the caucuses — in fact, her only campus event was on July 3 with her husband former President Bill Clinton. Clinton 42 did appear on campus on Dec. 10, at the height of the student caucus flap, and said students should follow their conscience. “Since nobody can really say what’s in your mind, it’s up to you,” Clinton said. “For example, if you show up to work on the campaign and have no connection here, then you shouldn’t be able to caucus.”
Reports of Clinton non-viability also come from Grinnell Ward 1, where the Clinton group sent supporters to Joe Biden to help him reach viability and prevent Obama from padding his already big delegate margin. Biden was also viable where Clinton was not in Ames Precinct 4-4, centered on the Iowa State campus.