Many informed fans of American football believe that the rushing game, where an offensive player carries the ball, is tactically mature. That is to say, there isn't much more to innovate.
Get out the vote efforts were regarded in much the same way. The U.S. has low voter participation. Much of the success of the Republican Party in recent years was caused by pulling in voters from untapped demographics -- in the GOP's case, lower-income, white, non-mainstream Protestants. Pundits and consultants would talk wistfully about drawing in the youth vote, the college vote, the twenty-something vote, the MTV vote. And when they failed, they blamed the apathy of those hooligans and yippies standing on their front lawn, probably smoking reefer.
So. The Iowa Democratic caucus: interesting from an operational point of view. Instead of some guy in a raver hat voting for Nader in Florida, and now working at his dad's car dealership -- almost punishment enough (almost) -- you had a well-organized GOTV pulling in everyone, including a mass of younger people, who broke strongly for Obama. No, 'strongly' is too weak a word. The sort of percentage margin associated with countries where the leaders wear lots of gold braid.
It must have been like St. Crispin's Day for them. But without the disembowelment.
The Pure Product of America: Except for the Young Republicans!
Yes, I suppose they might have all committed seppuku at the post-caucus poppers party. Or maybe they voted for Ron Paul, which is roughly the same thing. Haven't checked. Anyway.
The Huckabee victory didn't surprise me. Non-mainstream Protestant organization is solid. These are the people that Dolly Parton had in mind when she tweaked "Stairway To Heaven" to include the line, "When the Great Almighty Dollar leaves you lonely, lost, and conquered." They're the people Edwards can't reach. Yeah, their theology is pulled from the back of a Ouija board, but it's an honest longing for an alternative to Mammon and Babylon.
Following the ground reports, I don't think New Hampshire is even a question for Obama. This must necessarily shift Clinton's strategy to Giuliani's, which is kind of funny, though it will almost certainly be more successful than Giuliani's.
Another thought: in the coming realignment, non-mainstream Protestants will want to keep their political influence. But in this election cycle, they've learned that the other members of the Republican coalition actually despise them. Yet in most areas, they don't have the geographic concentration to form a viable alternative party. It's a little blue-sky, but I wonder if they'll deliberately try to concentrate their numbers over the next few years? Not entirely without precedent (Utah). Or will the generational sweep diminish them as well?
Finally, a cool football quote from an Irish poet-musician:
"In American football, the running-back will try to run at a predetermined angle through an ideal space created for him by his line-men. That space, in actuality, is up for grabs, and it's the job of the opposing line to break it up, unstitch it and through the runner out of kilter. As the big chefs in the steaming kitchen of the scrimmage grunt and heave against each other, spoiling one another's broth and slapping one another with their arms like hams, this black cat of a running-back darts underneath their feet, and, in a zigzag burst of inspiration, his boots discover new peripheries of vision. Eventually, some three or four yards later, he is stopped, and, falling, twists in some new stunt in his acrobatic nine lives, and earns the extra yard. This is a gorgeous management of time, where tiny semidemiquavers are perceived to change the standard pattern of the reel. They line up once again, this time in a new formation, poised, immobile till the ball is 'snapped'; and like a greyhound from its trap, another running-back emerges almost horizontally. The pattern kaleidoscopes again." -- Ciaran Carson, Last Night's FunThe running game doesn't get enough love.