Supporters in Iowa kicked off the 2012 election season this week with their "first in the nation" caucus—and that's just the beginning. Over the coming months, volunteers and staff will use the momentum of the Iowa Democratic Caucus to help grow President Obama's campaign around the state.
"The caucus was amazing," says William, an Iowa City volunteer. "We had seating for 240 people, but more than 280 showed up—that was more than anyone anticipated. People were active and excited the whole night. We considered it a huge success because we were able to build our teams in an effort to be the most organized campaign in Iowa—and in the whole country."
Rosanne, a retired educator and neighborhood team leader in Iowa City, says her caucus was also packed.
"I don't have a final count, but I think we had about 300 at our location—and a lot of those folks did sign up to volunteer," she says. "That was pretty consistent across the state. I thought it was just great, especially because I had the chance to ask the President a question during the video conference. All of my team was there, getting people checked in, going around and talking to people, explaining why they support the President—it was very lively.
"There are a lot of people here who are very committed to the democratic process, who are willing to be active. I think they understand how important it is for us to get out the vote here in Iowa, and they're ready to work hard to make sure that happens."
"I've never organized out of Iowa, but one thing that I've just loved here is that everyone is willing to help out," agrees William. "Once you get them on the phone, they're in it to stay."
Rosanne and William say the Obama 2012 team in Iowa has no plans to let up between now and November.
"We've opened eight offices since September, and we're here to stay," William explains. "As an organization, we're still focused on team building. We'll reach out to the people we connected with at the caucus and get them started volunteering. That's our strategy: voter-to-voter contact. The caucus proved that it's ordinary people who want to be involved who make the difference, not television ads or recorded phone calls."
"That's something we have going for us," says Rosanne. "People have a sense that they're in it together and cooperating with each other to get the job done. They believe in the candidate, and they believe in and trust each other."
Positive relationships are a key part of the campaign, says William—and the key to continuing this work through Election Day:
"It's actually hard to make myself leave the office. We have a fun time. Caucus week was long and stressful, but we sang and laughed a lot, and it helped that people are just so friendly here. I mean, people made us cookies all the time, and we built relationships with people both inside and outside the campaign. They were these great personal relationships—everybody who worked with us, we're all friends. That's what I love about it."
Stay posted for more profiles of volunteers in Iowa—and every state—in the coming months.