Friday, December 28, 2007

Obama, Huckabee may ride rural-newspaper endorsements to victories in Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses

Rural newspaper favorites Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama would win the Iowa caucuses if they were held tonight, say the latest "power rankings" of the Iowa Independent, an online news site that is our favorite source of grass-roots information on Hawkeye State politics.

The Independent knows rural Iowa, and says Obama's "wave of small-town newspaper endorsements should enhance his second-choice support in rural parts of the state where he has been perceived as weak." Second choices are important because supporters of a candidate who doesn't get at least 15 percent of the vote in a precinct can then caucus for someone else. The Independent's rankings have Hillary Clinton and John Edwards tied for second.

[This paragraph was updated Dec. 30.] In the Republican race, which has no 15 percent rule, Huckabee had five newspaper endorsements, three from weeklies. John McCain had four dailies and two weeklies; Mitt Romney had three dailies and Fred Thompson had one, the Ottumwa Courier. For a listing of all the endorsements and the newspapers' circulations, click here.

The Independent's rankings put Romney in second and Ron Paul in third. Chase Martyn (in photo below) writes, "Paul broke double digits in at least two polls for the first time this week and he seems particularly strong in areas of the state where the media has less of an impact on political deliberations -- especially in rural northwest and southern Iowa." Because rural precincts tend to be smaller, the rural vote in the caucuses is amplified. For an Independent story on that by John Deeth, click here.

The Independent is spotlighted in the January issue of Wired magazine, in a story about Iowa blogs that quotes former Des Moines Register reporter Chuck Offenburger: "Many times I notice, like with the Iowa Independent or smaller papers, they'll be out in front of the media on some campaign appearance, and then the larger media then works their way around to it."

Sarah Lai Stirland writes, "Founded eight months ago, the Iowa Independent is staffed with a motley mix of part-time contributing bloggers and more-established local writers. Its sole full-time employee is Martyn -- a former Democratic field coordinator and student political blogger who graduated from Grinnell College earlier this year."

The Independent is one of four state political blogs "funded by the Center for Independent Media, a nonprofit group headed by former Wired magazine writer David Bennahum," Stirland writes. The others are Colorado Confidential, Michigan Messenger and Minnesota Monitor. (Read more)

1 comment:

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