Video: The election and Iowa

By Tom Brokaw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/27/2004 10:43:27 AM ET 2004-10-27T14:43:27

Iowa is under assault — over the air and on the ground. Some $2 million has been spent on television ads in the Des Moines area in the final five weeks of the presidential election. In some half-hour time blocks, 70 percent of the ads are political.

"In a typical week's time you can have 10 to 15 different ads running at any time," says WHO-TV Sales Director Dan Lyons.

The Bush campaign claims 20,000 volunteers are going to door to door and working the phones.

"We have an organization in this state for the president that I have never seen in any statewide campaign," says David Roederer, chairman of the Iowa Bush-Cheney campaign.

In a race this close, organization may be more important than the candidate.

Both campaigns are full service. For the all-important absentee voter, they'll send you the ballot, pick it up — and get it delivered.

Senator Kerry's campaign canvassed the entire state earlier this fall and loaded all the data into computers so his volunteers can target specific undecided voters on specific issues.

Among the undecideds: Will Scholtes, a 20-year-old engineering student and lifeguard, and Carol Benson, a single mom and hairdresser in Knoxville, Iowa. They're both still undecided because they don't believe either candidate has addressed their issues.

"They're not giving us the respect that we deserve. They're paying more attention to older groups," says Scholtes.

"Neither candidate has given me any reason to believe they're going to fulfill what they're promising," says Benson.

The election year in Iowa is longer than anywhere else in the country — with the first test, the Iowa caucuses, in January. So, why hasn't either candidate broken out in the Hawkeye state?

"You have a lot of people who come out of a pacifist tradition and a lot of people who come out of an isolationist tradition," says David Yepsen, the longtime political columnist of the Des Moines Register. "At the same time, you've got a real sense of patriotism in this part of the country over this war so all of those values are sort of clashing here now."

This is what it means to be a battleground state. The battle for the political soul — and seven electoral votes — of Iowa is as intense as it's ever been in this symbol of America's heartland.

As a result, Will and Carol are going to have a lot of new friends in the next week.

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