The Daily Kos has this interesting tidbit:
“What’s Dean’s hard count?” Steve McMahon, Joe Trippi’s partner in the Dean brain trust, looks like Sylvester grinning with Tweety Bird in his mouth. He won’t give the number, of course, but he seems very confident that his hard count will be a high enough numerator no matter what the denominator. And here’s why: The rumor last night is that, of Dean’s hard count “ones”, a startling 60 to 65 percent of them are self-identified, first time caucus-goers. McMahon could be spinning, but that doesn’t make sense – he surely does not want to raise expectations and then have to explain comparative failure on Tuesday. Second place, certainly third, and definitely fourth, would be comparative failure.
If it’s true about the share of committed “ones” that are first-timers, however, and if the total number of hard count Deanies (first time or rarely-participating or newly-affiliating Democrats, whatever) is that high, this is important because this means Dean is toting a disproportionate share of these beneath-the-radar voters. That is, if the demoninator is larger than expected or we’ve seen historically, those new or newly-engaged people are disproportionately committed to Dean and his growing numerator is pushing up the growing denominator. One related point: The dirtier the list the Iowa Democratic party sold all the campaigns, the better it is for the campaigns with the most field resources, those of Dean and Gephardt, because they have had the time to work through and clean it, tighten it. In theory (and practice?), Dean and Gephardt have worked out kinks that Kerry and Edwards are just now encountering.