Election 2008: Covering the Iowa Caucuses, Part 1

By Kerry Eleveld

Originally published on Advocate.com December 26 2007 12:00 AM ET

Caucus Goer: Sharon Malheiro

Age: 51

Candidate: Barack Obama

Hometown: Des Moines

First-time Caucuser?: “Oh, no. I’ve
caucused several times.”

Candidate in 2004: Howard Dean

Why Obama?

Sharon Malheiro
is supporting Illinois senator Barack Obama because she
thinks he can help bring about a change in the divisive
political climate in America. “He’s got
the ability to unite both Republicans and the
Democrats to seek solutions of international import -- the
war, the ecology, the economy,” she says. In
terms of issues that are important to her personal
life, says Malheiro, “I think he’s got what we
need to bring about the changes for LGBT civil
rights.”

A Second Choice? (In the Iowa Democratic
caucus, if your candidate does not win the support of at
least 15% of the people at your caucus site, he or
she is not considered “viable” and
you must choose another candidate.)

Malheiro has
definitely thought about who her second choice might be,
partly because all the campaigns have been asking.
“You get phone calls every day. It’s the
curse and the blessing of living in Iowa,” she says.
“You talk to more people every day about your
political thoughts.” But Malheiro hasn’t
entirely settled on a runner up. “There’s a
couple of candidates that I also really like. I like
John Edwards, and I like Joe Biden. Some of it depends
on who else would be viable in my precinct. Some of it
is also driven by what my neighbors talk to me about.
I’ve got a couple of neighbors whom I really
respect, who are really passionate for one candidate
or another, and hearing them can convince you.”

The Holiday Factor

Overall, a lot of
people have held off on fervently talking up their
candidate, according to Malheiro, mostly because the caucus
on January 3 is coming so close to the holiday season.
For her part, Malheiro kept her Obama yard sign in her
garage pre-Christmas. “Yard signs are a big deal
here,” she says. “My partner was asking me,
‘When are you going to put your Obama sign
out?’ I said, ‘After Christmas, because I
don’t know if I want a political sign in my
yard with my Christmas display.’"