DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ After years of campaigning, endless issue papers and a mind-numbing series of debates, Iowa's precinct caucuses have come down to organizational politics and who can do it best.

A small slice of the hundreds of out-of-state backers of Republican hopeful Bob Dole will be making sure Monday night that everyone who needs a ride to a local caucus will have one.

''There's nothing magic about organizing,'' said Dole spokeswoman Katie Boyle. ''It's just plain hard work.''

''We're doing a combination of several things I think everybody is doing,'' said George Wittgraf, who works for Vice President George Bush's campaign. ''It's just a question of how we execute.''

Bringing in volunteers from other states to provide cars is a new variation of a simple theme - getting Iowans to bundle up on a frigid evening and troop to their neighborhood school or fire station and support a candidate for president.

To do that, presidential candidates have set up ''boiler rooms'' of phone banks, flooded the postal service with direct-mail and plan to have thousands of volunteers on the streets knocking on doors.

''That's the guts of what happens in this state in terms of this caucus process,'' said Pat Mitchell, who runs the Iowa campaign of Illinois Democratic Sen. Paul Simon. ''It is so different than a primary. We're no longer trying to find new people, we're trying to make sure our people get there.''

David Nagle, a congressman and former Iowa Democratic chairman, has an answer for those who ask the three most important things for a candidate to do in Iowa: ''Organize, organize, organize.''

The reason politicos put such a high premium on organization is the nature of Iowa's process. Rather than stopping for a minute and pulling a lever in a voting booth, activists must make a commitment to attend a meeting in one of the state's 2,487 precincts, a meeting which could last until the wee hours of the morning.

''Turnout is a little more difficult because of the nature of the process,'' said Wittgraf. ''It's not a five-minute, or a 10-minute process.''

Because of that, candidates must do more than win support, they must inspire a significant level of loyalty and commitment, or they must physically deliver their backers to the caucuses.

''We're making a precinct by precinct local effort,'' said Wittgraf. ''We get down to the old thing of identifying your supporters and that's what we're all trying to do.''

Both Bush and Dole are credited with having top-flight political organizations in Iowa, while Simon, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt have built respected operations.

''There are four very, very well organized campaigns in Iowa,'' said Iowa Democratic Chairwoman Bonnie Campbell.

In addition to convincing people they should support a certain candidate, there's another hurdle to clear. Those who have never attended a caucus - and very few people go on a routine basis every year - can be intimidated by the prospect of the meeting.

''Helping people overcome a fear of the unknown is something you have to do,'' Wittgraf said.

In addition, there are also a series of peace groups, elderly activists and others who are busily running get-out-the-vote efforts.

But there is a major difference in Iowa's organizational battle this year. Labor, perhaps the biggest player in organizational politics, is sitting this one out.

In 1984, labor was united behind Walter F. Mondale, and leaders used their clout.

''We had a membership list with 90,000 names,'' said Mark Smith, of the Iowa Federation of Labor. ''Our goal was to call each name seven times.''

At one point in the 1984 campaign, there were 21 separate phone banks in operation by labor groups.

With no formal endorsement from the AFL-CIO, there's no such effort this time around.

''We've held some caucus training sessions, and we're encouraging our members to attend and try to be elected delegates,'' said Ron Livermore, of the Iowa State Education Association, the state's teacher union.

''With no national endorsement, it's just not the same thing,'' said Don Rowen, the chief political operative of the Federation of Labor. While individual unions can take a stand, locals aren't capable of a major organizational drive, Rowen said.

There has been some scattered union backing. The governing board of the Iowa Conference of Teamsters has endorsed Jesse Jackson, while the union representing state workers has backed Dukakis.

An Iowa United Auto Workers council has recommended that local unions back Gephardt, while the Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council is backing Simon.

''It's not at all like last time,'' Smith said.