How O'Malley Could Crown Iowa's Winner

Caucuses' quirky rules could make him more powerful
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2016 6:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Martin O'Malley may be in a position to swing the Iowa caucuses toward either of his Democratic rivals—but the perpetually third-place candidate says that won't happen. As the Wall Street Journal explains, a candidate who lacks 15% of caucus-goers at any of Iowa's 1,600 caucus sites is considered "not viable," meaning those supporters can choose to sit out or support another candidate. Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders may then try to woo those votes, or, if the supporters appear to prefer the other candidate, give O'Malley enough votes to make him viable. With O'Malley maxing out at 7% in recent Iowa polls, the strategy will surely arise.

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"I have talked to the Clinton people a lot about being ready to go and get them over on your side," says former Sen. Tom Harkin, a Clinton backer involved in Iowa politics. It happened in 2008, he says, when "the Obama people just went right after" supporters of candidates like Joe Biden, former Gov. Bill Richardson, and former Sen. Chris Dodd (Obama won that year in Iowa). But O'Malley maintains he won't play king (or queen) maker, Politico reports. "The people who have stuck with me, the friends that I have … I think they are pretty resolute in their support for me," he says. "My message to them is to hold strong." One bonus for Clinton's team: They're using an app that shows how many supporters belong to each candidate and how many are needed for viability, BuzzFeed reports. (Read more Iowa caucuses stories.)

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