Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Iowa Caucuses Are (Finally) Here.

While it might seem like just yesterday when Senator Barack Obama made history by becoming America's first black President, reality is, it's been 3 looong years. Likewise, it's been 3 looong years since a 20 or so GOP contenders first started running against him. That number's been whittled down to 9 or so, and finally, the process of determining who gets to lose to Obama in a landslide later this year begins today, as Iowans go to "caucus".

I've been the Iowa (once, many years ago). While I found Des Moines to be a very pleasant place, for the life of me, I couldn't (and still can't) understand what is was about this state that made it worthy of the privilege of setting the tone for Presidential campaigns. While the country continues to brown, Iowa is roughly 91% white.[1] There ain't many AverageBros (around 2%) there other than Harrison Barnes, and thankfully he left.[2]

So why is this state, which is overwhelming evangelical, and not exactly demographically representative of the USA as a whole, given the right to essentially knock candidates out of the running? Well, then candidates who haven't ethered themselves already. How ya' doin', Hermanator?!?

The answer is mostly traditional, but partly fiscal as well, as a political cycle can dump more than $100M into the state's economy. In short, it's just the way it is, and attempts to reshuffle the order of primaries in the past has come up short. Iowa is first, mostly because, well, it's just first. It is what it is.

The ironic/strange thing about Tuesday's caucuses is that after 3,021 debates, 3 years of lobbying, and millions of dollars in ads, a puzzling number of Iowans still don't know who they'll vote for tomorrow.
Underscoring the unpredictability of the race, a new poll by The Des Moines Register showed that a remarkable 41 percent of likely caucus-goers say they were undecided or still might change their minds.

Romney had 24 percent support among likely voters while Paul had 22 percent, meaning they were statistically even at the front of the pack. Santorum was third with 15 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich, with 12 percent, and Rick Perry, with 11 percent. Michele Bachmann, a one-time Iowa favorite, brought up the rear with 7 percent.

However, in a sign of how quickly things can change, the last two days of the poll — taken Tuesday through Friday — found Santorum with momentum and Paul losing his. Heading into the weekend, Romney held a narrow lead, but Santorum was right behind him with 21 percent while Paul had fallen to 18 percent.
So, lemme see if I've got this right. After all that campaigning, having candidates go from one diner to another[3], and knock on every door in the state 7 times, these numbnuts still have no clue who they'll vote for? I thought Real Americans were supposed to be politically astute. Piss or get off the pot, Iowa!

An idea advanced by several states (and defeated) a few years back would have rotated the order of primaries. That woulda made sense, because given that I live in a "middle" state like Maryland, things are usually somewhat decided by the time I get to vote. Suppose I was a Michelle Bachmannite? I'd be basically screwed, since we all know she isn't making it past South Carolina. Ditto for "Santorum", a dude whose last name alone should disqualify him from running.

Personally, I think Mitt Romney will shock the world and win Iowa in a landslide tonight. Despite their flirtations with every Tom, Dick, and Newt, Republicans aren't dumb. They hate Obama more than they love a "principled Conservative". Romney's gonna be the guy when all's said and done, we all know this.

Question: Should a single state like Iowa have so much power? What do you think will happen tonight? Who's going to be the first candidate to "drop out to spend more time with my family"?!?

[1] How's this for irony? Utah, generally assumed to be one of the whitest states period, is just 86% white. Been there too. Beautiful state.

[2] Just Google it, already.

[3] Uhhh, seriously, what's up with that? Who hangs out in diners at 11am on a weekday? Don't these people have jobs to go to, or is that one more thing to blame on Obama?

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