Introduction, Iowa 2012
It’s been quite awhile, hasn’t it?
Yes, your resident rhetorical rambler has been on a hiatus. Handcuffed by a laptop that…I don’t really know what…even the Internets couldn’t figure out the problem. Needless to say, my laptop went FUBAR; the holiday season swallowed me whole, flu viruses took whatever was left, and I totally forgot to actually grieve over a tragic loss last year at this time.
You didn’t think I’d stay quiet for Iowa, did you?
I have previously written about the anomaly that is the Iowa caucus. When all is calculated, the Iowa caucus gets more buzz and attention than the importance or authority it sets on the eventual nominee. However, to entirely dismiss Iowa as total media-frenzy is equally as foolish.
On the influential side of the argument, Iowa can turn a dark horse into a contender, a contender into a pack runner, and a pack runner into the nominee. In 2008, eventual nominee John McCain received only 13% of the Iowa caucus vote. However, had Huckabee not shocked in Iowa and showed the true vulnerability of New Hampshire, Romney would not have needed to win in the more-moderate first-in-the-nation primary state; he could have likely walked away with the first two important states and started working to solidify the party right away.
It was also quite similar on the Democratic side in 2008, as Clinton was going to be a runaway winner in New Hampshire, but no one knew if someone could still Iowa. Well, the most unlikely of candidates stole Iowa, making her bank on New Hampshire, and suddenly putting South Carolina in play for her, as well.
On the pointless side of the argument, Iowa decides the nominee of either party well less than 50% of the time, and picks the eventual President well less than 25% of the time. Even when it does “pick” correctly, there are numerous other states that also have to weigh in, so it is no more than odds-on luck. It is also less about actual vote total, and more about expectations. Often times, a runner-up in Iowa can be just as beneficial, proving that this is just the start of a long process.
Which in many ways is why Iowa is so important – because there are a lot of politicos out there. There are also a lot of people who have an interest in politics. Lastly, you have the crazy political wonks out there, and, just like football fanatics at the beginning of an NFL season, the crazies can make the most mundane task so very important.