One day out from the caucuses, Sharon, a neighborhood team leader from Iowa, is making phone calls from the packed Cedar Rapids office. Along with a roomful of volunteers, she's encouraging people to caucus for President Obama.
"We're getting our final caucus commits," she explains. "We've gotten in touch with just about all of the people on our list from Cedar Rapids, and we're calling into Des Moines to help make sure we reach as many people as possible. I'm here because I'm a grandmother, and I own a small business—but everyone has their own motivation."
"It's been really positive. It's cemented my belief that people have not abandoned the President—these calls have been outstanding. The number one response we get is people saying they've got his back, and they thank us for what we're doing."
"We're doing what we've always done, which is connect with people and help them get the information they need to get involved," says Andrea, a Grinnell sophomore who is making calls while she's home for winter break. "It's kind of funny—I've gotten robo-calls from the Republicans around the caucuses, but that's just not how we do it. They've gotten a lot of media attention, but I don't think it's going to help, because what we have is substantial."
“We're about building relationships—among voters, and even with the staff and volunteers. I worked on the campaign in 2008, and a bunch of my fellow volunteers came to my high school graduation. There's just something about being here, and working together on something so huge, that makes those friendships really special."
Sharon says Iowa is "one of the most energizing places you could possibly be, politically—especially right now. It's really exciting to have people actually stand up and rally for their candidate, and I'm so glad to be a part of it. I'm a transplant from Arizona, and when I first came here in 2008, I didn't have an address yet. I was green with envy watching my daughter-in-law head off to caucus. As soon as I had my address all taken care of, I ran out and joined the campaign."
This is also Andrea's first presidential caucus—she was only 15 the last time around.
"I still went to watch, though," she laughs. "I just love seeing everyone, especially since that side of town is where I went to high school. It's so fun to get everyone together—having this whole room full of Democrats getting to talk and hang out, it really builds community. I can't imagine living here in Iowa and not being involved in politics, it's a huge part of what we're about."
"No matter why we're here, we can all come together around re-electing the President," adds Sharon. "We're here working because we want to show the other side that we're still here, and we're still behind the President. This is our foundation for all the events we've got coming up. We're going to be building throughout the year—this is just the beginning."
Check back for on-the-ground updates from Iowa—and, if you're in town, don't forget to caucus tomorrow.