Many Democratic caucus goers are dismissive of former U.S. Senator Jim Webb’s chances in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. The recent Quinnipiac University poll shows 84 percent of registered Iowa voters haven’t heard of him, while the same numbers for his competitors are Clinton 9%; Sanders 39%; O’Malley 82%; Chafee 87%.
One argues that as he meets voters, he also might win them over, but Webb’s strategies and tactics are held close to the vest and there is a lot of work for him to do before Labor Day to catch up with Clinton and Sanders. What we see is the happy face of Iowa organizer Joe Stanley showing up at multiple events per day since Friday’s IDP fundraiser, regularly posting about them on social media, and zinging other candidates with social media barbs like this:
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js“Webb also proved himself a serious person,” said John Deeth of Webb’s performance at the cattle call o’candidates the Hall of Fame Celebration had become. Webb had his chance to make a first impression.
While this author is a natural Iowa constituent of Jim Webb, Webb’s hesitancy to act on climate, support the UN approved agreement that blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, and service in the Reagan administration are all problematic for different reasons. I’m not making anything of it, I’m just sayin’ he’s not playing caucus the expected Iowa way.
At the same time, I believe Webb’s stock is on the rise after the Hall of Fame celebration and here’s why.
1. The IDP should blow up the coordinated campaign, as I have written previously. Whether that’s possible, I’m not sure, but Webb’s true maverick stance indicates if anyone can do it, he has a chance.
2. He turned down an opportunity to speak at cattle call #2, the Aug. 4 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding, which is currently sold out.
Aide for @JimWebbUSA confirms he won’t be at @iowawingding w Clinton Sanders O’Malley & Chafee, due to “another trip in the works for then.”
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 22, 2015
Coupled with the idea that he has to win some of the four early states, Webb will be pressed for time. One more appearance at a multi-candidate event in front of party regulars would have diminishing returns. Especially since the first cattle call is on C-SPAN, available for viewing as people decide for whom to caucus.
3. If Deeth’s characterization is accurate, Webb must have a plan to turn out his voters caucus night. Not much public evidence of a plan today, but there must be one if he’s serious and I think he is.
There is a flight from partisan politics and a focus on getting things done in the community. This is reflected in the fact that the largest registered voter block is No Party (705,658), followed by Republicans (609,020) and Democrats (584,737), according to June numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State. As 2008 unforgettably demonstrated, a key tactic to winning the caucus is turning out your voters and making sure as many as possible are people who don’t usually caucus. With same day registration, any eligible voter can turn up and participate.
It’s going to take more than Joe Stanley’s happy face to develop and execute a Webb ground game. Given the fact he’s still in the race after lengthy deliberations, he may be better served keeping the strategy and tactics of this to his small circle of trusted advisers who have been with him for many years. In political campaigns, there is little reason to do what the other folks do, and that Webb sets his own direction has been his hallmark.
4. Webb is an experienced, disciplined tactician. When George Allen stumbled, Webb seized the opportunity and won election to the U.S. Senate from Virginia. The same Quinnipiac poll that showed Webb unknown to most Iowans, showed Democrats very beatable by some of the Republican field. It is way too early for polls to mean much, but the media picture and polling is not always what matters 6+ months from the caucus.
That Webb has proven able to seize opportunity in a developing ground situation, and make the most of it, provides his campaign something Clinton’s massive campaign staff and Sanders’ tent revival congregation seem much less likely to be able to do: pivot on a dime. In my experience in campaigns, this skill matters a lot, and can be a deciding factor as it was in the Virginia senate race.
5. Finally, Webb’s veteran status matters. So many years after the fall of Saigon, I believe Webb and people like him did their best in a bad situation.
At the same time, they pursued the war, fought its battles and are culpable. Maybe if we had read more stories about company grade officers like Jim Webb instead of William Calley public opinion about Vietnam would be different.
The public view of veterans has changed. Regardless what one thinks of our endless wars, the politicians who promote them, and the soldiers who fight, get wounded and die in them, battlefield valor is something rare and recognizable. No question Jim Webb has it and lives a life of principle.
The more people learn about him, they will see this characteristic, and maybe get off their duff on caucus night and stand for him. There is more hope of that today than there was a week ago.
Well said…Sen. Jim Webb is a man of honor and integrity with a lifelong history of putting our country before all else. He would make an excellent President.
If we elect a president acceptable to either party establishment, our reward is continual political gridlock. The alternative is for common sense workers to pave a way to our own party. A third party won’t work, and the republican process is controlled by even a more extreme wing than the extreme democrats. Here is our path: (* represents state with open primaries; # represents state won by Governor Romney, & represents swing states) Iowa& is made for retail politics, then it’s on to New Hampshire*&, South Carolina*#, and Nevada&. Then, Super Tuesday has Alabama*#, Arkansas*#, Colorado caucuses&, Georgia*#, Massachusetts*, Minnesota caucuses, North Carolina*#&, Oklahoma#, Tennessee*#, Texas*#, Vermont*, and Virginia*&. That’s 12 open primaries, 7 red states and 5 swing states, with the potential for “Reagan Democrats” and mischievous anti-HRC republicans to join common sense workers in support of Leadership we can trust. Now we need the correct bandwagon and we nominate JIM WEBB: the only combat veteran (highly decorated) candidate, the only candidate that the “losing” party will even give a chance to govern, and the only candidate to respect all sides of the cultural wars and not cater to just one side. He respects the constitution (see his comments on balance between the three branches), respects the need for leadership (even when it’s not popular) and has policies to rebalance the economy and opportunities for self-improvement (he is fed up with wall street). Yes, yes his campaign style can be aggravating, his speeches less than fiery, and his views complicated. But, and it’s a big but, He was Born Fighting and has been tested on the Fields of Fire. Strap on the combat boots and MARCH! Jim MARCH! He just may defy the statistics and resurrect a bygone coalition of workers that understand the need for governance.
I am not an Iowan, but I wish I was so I could vote for Webb. By the time they get to my state it will all be decided. Webb is my guy and I believe the only candidate who can break the gridlock and turn our country around. His leadership experience and willingness to do the things that need to be done, even if unpopular, is what makes the difference. He makes informed decisions and sticks to his guns. Webb 2016′
Webb is the man. He’s the only democrat making any sense and he’s the man for the job. I truly believe he could be the next great president of our nation alongside FDR, Teddy, & Lincoln. The man has what it will take to fix our country and get everyone working together again.
Jim Webb is the most qualified of all Presidential candidates, Republicans included. Senator Webb is a veteran and can win in the Mid-West and South. He is the only candidate that draws disaffected Republicans and his common sense message is squarely focused on addressing the concerns of the country’s working families. Jim Webb is the best choice for Democrats and all Americans, and is not a lifelong politician. He is the only Unity and Change Agent you can trust to get the job done. When the great state of Iowa hears Senator Webb his support will grow and grow. The GOP fears a Webb candidacy. Jim Webb- Trustworthy Leadership that Wins. Spread the Word
Sen. Webb is the last of the people still in public life that I admired while growing up. (I graduated HS in 1980 and joined the Army shortly thereafter, and I’d read ‘Fields of Fire’ by then.)
he’d be the first Democrat I voted for for President and while I am more conservative on some issues that he, his integrity, intelligence and candor engender a trust no other candidate can match. I would go to sleep every night knowing that the highest levels of government were in safe hands and that someone who truly loves his country was working to make things better for everyone, including the working class.
Webb is Democrats’ only chance of taking votes from the Republican side. Military veterans will vote for him no matter what the party. He’s also the only candidate competent to be commander-in-chief. He also has a good understanding of law, being a lawyer, which comes in handy when your job is to understand the Constitution and execute those laws.