A few lessons from the Iowa caucuses

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webmaster | 01/05/12
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Now that Iowa Republicans have spoken, we know three things:

First, that Mitt Romney, with 30,017 votes, won by 8 votes over Rick Santorum, who had 30,007, which gives us another lesson in why every vote counts.

Second, that most Iowans didn't care. Only about 3.58 percent of Iowa's population attended the GOP caucuses, despite all the news-media hype that somehow these caucuses are significant. Can you even say that such a small percentage is even representative of the State of Iowa?

Third, that the hosting of a quadrennial presidential campaign probably is Iowa’s most important economic enterprise aside from wheat and corn.

Put into perspective, the 109,651 people who attended the Republican caucuses is less than the population of Madera County. If someone came up with the idea that a straw poll of Madera County would be a make-or-break first outing for presidential nomination opponents, people wouldn’t be able to stop laughing.

Can you imagine Madera County being visited for several months by candidates, their campaign forces and the media?

It would be a big deal — such a big deal, in fact, that Madera County people would actually think they were supervoters: Voters whose decisions really had much more influence than the ordinary citizens who pull themselves away from the television long enough to go to the polls.

As odd as that seems, over time, Iowa has managed to position itself as important for no other reason than its caucuses come before the New Hampshire primary—another much ado about nothing.

That isn’t to say anything negative about those two fine states. It’s just that choosing the president of the United States has become an exercise in pretense.

The media and others pretend the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are important, and therefore they become important.

They are primarily money machines for local media, local politicos, local hotels, local restaurants and other local services. That isn’t necessarily bad, but at least it’s calling it what it is.

 

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