MSNBC's Carrie Dann says she's become convinced of Barack Obama's organization in Iowa.
Being skeptical of it makes some sense. Obama has little national campaign experience, and Howard Dean's collapse in part from over-reliance on young voters is still fresh in peoples' minds.
What I've seen over the last four months in Iowa, though, is that Obama's structure is first-rate. His many staffers in the state have impressively executed every event I've attended, and generally exceeded expectations in head-to-head matchups with other campaigns. The turnout they delivered at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was no fluke.
Make no mistake, Hillary Clinton's and John Edwards' are also formidable, but they underestimate Obama's at their peril. Clinton's got a great machine, but Obama's supporters are more enthusiastic. Many of Edwards' proponents are too, but at big events like J-J, his lack of money is evident, and he can't scale his efforts the way Clinton and Obama can.
There are too many unknown variables to predict the outcome of the caucuses. Especially with students, I bet none of the campaigns really has a good idea who is going to show up on Jan. 3.
David Redlawsk, political science professor at the University of Iowa, told me recently that the campaigns that exceed expectations at the caucuses almost always have significantly better organizations than most of us so-called experts knew about. From everything I've seen, this year I'd bet Obama will pick up that award after the dust settles.