*Speaking via satellite from an assistant principal’s office in New Hampshire -where she is already in town covering the upcoming caucus – Gwen Ifill of the no-shenanigans PBS NewsHour talks about how times are a changing when it comes to presidential caucuses.
Much has already been said about the lack of enthusiasm surrounding the lead up to Tuesday’s affair in Iowa, which saw Mitt Romney squeeze by Rick Santorum to earn the victory. Compared to the caucus hoopla in 2008, which saw then Sen. Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee win, the 2012 experience was a bit lackluster.
This time around, there were hardly any campaign signs on front lawns, few folks wearing big-ass buttons supporting their favorite candidate or packed coffee shops filled with people clamoring to hear their man or woman make a stump speech.
Ifill – who has spent most of her career covering presidential campaigns and moderated the memorable vice presidential debate between then Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden – blames the ho-hum attitude surrounding this year’s Iowa caucus on the advances in technology and social media.
“Things are very different than they were, but one of the most interesting things to me – I’m standing one floor away from Mitt Romney and John McCain and about 400 actual New Hampshire voters,” she told reporters at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena on Wednesday. “So there is a lot of face to face that’s still going on, but it’s different.”
“The technology is different. We have to adapt to it rather than having it completely confine what we do and that’s why we’re upping our presence online,” she continued. “If voters are going to Twitter, we’re going to Twitter. If they’re going to watch a live stream, we’re going to provide a live stream. The goal is to provide the information, and it doesn’t have to be in a coffee stop. In fact, I think we’ve probably romanticized the notion that that’s how most of us ever got our information. It has to be wherever the people are.”
In the audio below, we ask Ifill what she really thinks about the caucuses in the grand scheme of things. Do they have any real value?