Will early caucuses in Iowa change the electorate?

An interesting story in this morning’s LA Times, “Early Caucuses Put Student Pro-Obama Vote in Play”, speculates that with the Iowa caucuses being held during the college winter break, that many college students who might normally have participated in Iowa’s caucuses might not be in town.

The story speculates on what might happen, and this will be an interesting dynamic to watch:

It’s going to be different this time: The Iowa caucuses are being held Jan. 3, the middle of winter break. With college students home for the holidays, campuses across the state will be empty.

But the early caucus date could shift voter dynamics, adding young voices at their hometown caucuses across the state while diminishing the turnout at college precincts. Or, it could mean even fewer college students will take part in the electoral process.

Either outcome will affect the tally for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who is in a tight race with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York to carry the state. The Obama campaign is banking on young voters, and the timing of this year’s caucuses could work to his advantage.

This is one possible unintended consequence of such an early caucus date in Iowa!