Ron Paul's Enviable Iowa Ground Game
Ron Paul's enviable campaign in Iowa, which Iowa's governor has called one of the best of any of the Republican candidates, had its start four years ago when Paul abandoned his 2008 presidential bid.
Paul and his supporters kept up the fight by forming "Campaign for Liberty," an advocacy group that has kept his aides employed and volunteers organized.
The group committed itself to essential grassroots efforts such as hosting parties and conferences, training new activists, and distributing petitions.
The same grassroots efforts were then made on behalf of Paul when he announced he was running and nine out of the 16 members of the group joined the campaign.
"We have done a traditional campaign, with retail politics," said Paul's Iowa State Chairman Drew Ivers. "Politics are really simple; find people of like minds, get them registered, and get them to the polls."
To find people of like minds, the campaign engaged in a sophisticated system of voter identification which asks volunteers, no matter where they are located in the country to "survey" or ask potential supporters a series of questions on various topics and then ask who best represents their views.
Once someone is identified, his or her name is then passed on to a local field office where another volunteer will again contact the potential supporter.
"We have done a good job of contacting supporters," said Ivers.
A New York Times/CBS News poll of likely caucus goers said that they have been contacted by the Paul campaign at a higher rate than any other candidate.
Paul has made almost 80 stops across Iowa since May, visiting the state at least once every other week.
The campaign changed strategy over the summer, jettisoning large rallies attended by Paul faithful in favor of smaller gatherings that showcase Paul to new voters in more intimate settings, aides say.
The campaign has also put in great effort of mobilizing niche voters such as farmers and home schoolers who came out in force in during Paul's very strong second place showing during the straw poll over the summer and could make a difference during the caucus tonight where relatively small numbers can tip the scales.
Although Ivers concedes that Campaign for Liberty has made a difference in propelling a strong ground game, he credits the massive advertising campaign in the state with making voters feel more comfortable with Paul.
"You want people talking about Ron Paul in front of their friends and that's what TV does," said Ivers.
Through several successful money bombs, the campaign had the funds to launch 10 mostly positive biographical ads airing across the state since July.
Ron Paul now finds himself neck and neck with Mitt Romney with just hours to go before the votes are cast in the first presidential contest of the 2012 presidential season.
"I'm feeling pretty positive that we are going to go well," said Ivers adding "we've done all we can do."