The Enthusiasm Gap In Iowa

Philip Klein offers some perspective on reports of "packed rooms" and standing-room-only events in the Hawkeye State:

The truth is that the venues candidates are holding events at this year are much smaller than in 2008, back when some candidates were filling large ballrooms or even small arenas. When going into a Barack Obama event in 2008, it wouldn't be unusual have to get there early and still park a five or 10 minute walk away from the actual rally site, only to come into a massive venue where crowds in the thousands were going wild. Even on the Republican side, Mike Huckabee was filling larger venues. 

Yet yesterday, reporters, photographers and a few actual patrons were packed into a tiny diner at a Mitt Romney event in Atlantic, Iowa. True, later that evening, he attracted hundreds to a town hall-style building in Council Bluffs, but it was still a relatively small venue. On Saturday, Newt Gingrich squeezed people into a diner in Council Bluffs and a small corner of a Coca Cola bottling factory in Atlantic. At the same time, the audiences seem a lot more subdued than in 2008 — less shouting and sign waving.