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Eyes on the signs

From NBC's Carrie Dann
Political junkies generally track the progress of presidential campaigns by counting fundraising dollars, power-player endorsements, and big-name hires. But for a big picture of how the candidates rank in terms of campaign organizations, you can just watch the signs.

At the Democratic National Committee meeting in Washington today, eager supporters brandished the red, white, and blue signage of their preferred candidates. Watching the throngs of mostly student-aged campaigners waving signs painted a telling picture of how some presidential candidates run tighter ships than others. Sen. Chris Dodd's supporters, for example, cut an enthusiastic but narrow swathe across three rows of seats, while those sporting posters of Sen. Barack Obama and his megawatt smile fanned out throughout the crowded ballroom. But the ocean of blue "Hillary" signs that surged as the New York senator took the stage demonstrated how her army had orchestrated an effort to turn the meeting into a Clinton campaign event.

Even more remarkable was the almost military precision with which the poster-bearers shifted their stances in order to surround a small crowd of anti-war protestors who momentarily disrupted Clinton's speech with cries of "bring them home!" Within moments, Team Hillary visually eclipsed the dissenters in the back corner of the room. (A few police officers quickly silenced the protestors' verbal objections, as well.)

The DNC meeting, of course, will look like a high-school pep rally in comparison to the Super Bowl-like conventions in August 2008. But if you're looking to put your money on which of the candidates will come out on top, keep your eye on the signs.