Martin O’Malley campaign concerned about viability heading into caucus

Martin O’Malley, Democratic presidential candidate, visits the Memorial Union to rally with supporters on Feb. 1.

Alex Hanson

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said Monday, just hours before the Iowa Caucus, that his campaign is concerned about viability at precincts around Iowa tonight, but told supporters at Iowa State to “hold strong.”

During his Presidential Caucus Series town hall inside the Memorial Union, O’Malley repeatedly told supporters to fight for viability when they caucus Monday night.

The Democratic Party caucus in Iowa requires a candidate to reach at least 15 percent support at individual precincts in order to be “viable.” If a candidate does not reach that threshold, supporters are lobbied by the other campaigns to join them.

“We’re concerned in every precinct. We’re the challenger in this race that from the beginning has been portrayed as exclusively a two-person race,” O’Malley said in an interview with The Daily after his town hall Monday. 

“Our goal is to beat expectations,” O’Malley said. “The candidate who beats expectations is often the candidate who goes all the way. We’re fighting to beat those expectations that the national media has kept low for us.”

He said in each precinct, obtaining viability is a challenge, but they’ve identified potential supporters and precinct captains as well as had volunteers out today making last minute pitches to undecided voters.

When asked about how long he would stay in the race if his performance in Iowa and beyond is low, O’Malley said he is only focussed on Iowa right now.

“I’m focussed on doing as well as I can tonight,” O’Malley said. “That’s what we need to do to switch the dynamic of this race. Sometimes it’s a rapid ascent, sometimes is a slower ascent, but I have an organization in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, so we have to shift the dynamic in these early races in order to touch off that combination of traction and fundraising — which will allow us to go all the way and win the nomination.”