updated 1/19/2004 7:06:54 PM ET 2004-01-20T00:06:54

Tonight, the voters are finally getting their say. At 7:30 p.m. ET tonight, rugged voters all across ice-cold Iowa meet at caucus sites in the country’s first contest in the Battle for the White House. And this race couldn’t be tighter...… nor trickier to predict.

Hardball will talk to the candidates, the strategists, the reporters, and for the first time on national television—we’ll have live reports from inside the caucuses.

Unlike in a primary, the Iowa caucuses are a test not just of a candidate’s popularity but his organizational strength.  To cast a vote, Iowans need to show up at one of 2,000 public meetings, wait around for two hours of speeches, walk to the corner of the room assigned to their candidate, then stand before their friends and neighbors and let them all know their preference. With the temperature hovering below zero, that’s a stern test of loyalty.   

So as we try to build democracy in Iraq, watch us practice it at home, carrying on the human struggle for a better life, the personal struggle of a few men to advance their ambitions, and the commitment in the coldest weather as tens of thousands of Americans do their duty.

MSNBC presents live comprehensive coverage and political analysis of the 2004 Iowa Democratic caucus, anchored by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews from Des Moines, Monday, Jan. 19, beginning at 7 p.m. (ET).  

Live coverage of the Iowa caucus begins at 7 p.m. (ET) with Chris Matthews and a panel of political experts providing up-to-the-minute results and analysis from Des Moines. “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” airs through 12 a.m. (ET) with further live results and examination of the day’s events. At 12-1 a.m. (ET), Keith Olbermann hosts a special “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

“Hardball with Chris Matthews” will originate from Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 15 and Friday, Jan. 16 to preview the vote and speak to the Democratic candidates about the importance of this first contest of the Presidential campaign. MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing will also report from Iowa on the mood of the voters on the eve of the caucus.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,