DES MOINES, Iowa, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Due to a quirk in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa, Martin O'Malley's supporters could thumb the scale for one of the field's two leading candidates.
It is unlikely that the former Maryland governor will meet the minimum threshold of support needed to win delegates in Iowa. It's the first step in the complicated Democratic process meant to rule out candidates considered to be un-viable.
If a candidate gets fewer than 15 percent in certain counties, caucus-goers are asked to re-group. Those pulling for the candidate that doesn't meet the threshold are given two options -- change sides or go home. Those who don't go home are lobbied by representatives of other campaigns.
A poll released by Public Policy Polling on Jan. 12 found that a majority of O'Malley's supporters prefer Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., as their second choice. If O'Malley were dropped from the running in the caucuses, 43 percent say they would caucus for Sanders, while 20 percent would go to bat for Clinton.
No other poll is taking the temperature of O'Malley supporters, possibly because O'Malley still polls quite low. In an average of several recent polls, RealClear Politics calculated the former governor barely moves the needle in Iowa with just 5 percent support. Nationally, the news is even worse: O'Malley polls at 2 percent.
The New York Times reported both Clinton and Sanders' camps are preparing to persuade O'Malley supporters on caucus night. O'Malley is planning an aggressive get-out-the-vote initiative on Feb. 1 to try to stay above the 15 percent threshold.