At this writing, Nate Silver's projections give the following percentages for the Iowa caucus Tuesday night: Mitt Romney - 21.6%; Ron Paul 21.3%; Rick Santorum - 19.5%.
That, my friends, is a jump ball.
If Chris Cillizza's guesstimate of 100,000 for turnout were correct, then the three-tenths of a percentage point separating Romney and Paul in Silver's projection would amount to three hundred voters.
Three hundred voters? You call seventeen friends, and they call seventeen friends: that's three hundred people right there. In grade school they taught us you can defend the pass of Thermopylae with that.
If 300 anti-war voters in Iowa pull this one out of the fire, they will walk on the stage of anti-war electoral history, alongside the people in Connecticut who threw Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party in 2006 over his fanatic support of the Iraq war, and the people of New Hampshire who forced Lyndon Johnson to retire in 1968 over his monstrous escalation of the war in Vietnam.
About the campaign to defeat Lieberman, the New York Times wrote, "The Connecticut race drew national and even international attention this summer as a barometer of the mood of American Democrats over the Iraq war."
I went door-to-door in Connecticut as a volunteer for Ned Lamont when he ran against Lieberman. I do not now remember what any of Lamont's positions were besides getting out of Iraq; I didn't much care. I don't doubt that if Ned Lamont were in the U.S. Senate today, he might sign every napkin handed to him by AIPAC. I did not campaign for Ned Lamont because I believed that he was the Messiah. I campaigned for him because I thought he could beat Lieberman in the primary and strike a blow against the war.
At people's doors in Connecticut, I talked about what the election would mean for the war. "People around the country are looking as this election as a referendum on the Iraq war; that's why I'm here." I talked to Democratic voters who were torn because they liked Lieberman generally and thought he was a good Senator, but they opposed the war. I pressed on these voters the fact that the whole country was relying on them to help bring the troops home from Iraq. The voters I talked to seemed to think that this was a compelling argument.
This is how I see the Iowa caucus: as a referendum against the campaign for war with Iran. We have a unique opportunity Tuesday in Iowa to defeat the warmongers. As the Republican field is pruned it will become harder to to strike a blow against the war in the Republican primaries, because pro-war sentiment will coalesce around Romney, while pro-war sentiment is currently divided between Romney and Santorum.
Most Americans don't want to have a war with Iran. But unfortunately, by and large, the institutions that took the country to war in Iraq under false pretenses -- the leadership of both political parties, big media, the neoconservative think tanks, the oil lobby, AIPAC -- escaped largely unscathed, unchastened and unreformed from their catastrophic crime. These institutions are now poised to take us to war with Iran, as soon as they can get away with it.
Millions of people around the world marched in February 2003 against the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq. But by then, it was too late to stop the war train which was already underway. We should try to stop the Iran war train before it can leave the station, so that we don't have to try to stop it when it is already underway. The pro-war forces are massing against us in Iowa Tuesday. Let Des Moines be our Thermopylae.
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