Sunday, June 12, 2011

Are the Caucuses Dead?

Events are unfolding that will affect every Iowa Republican, indeed probably every Iowan.  We are witnessing the end of nearly forty years of our state's prominence in Presidential politics.

Last week's announcement by Mitt Romney is the latest, and probably fatal blow, to the First in the Nation Status.  Non participation in the Ames Straw Poll (held in the odd year summer preceding the even year winter Presidential Caucuses) is the ticket of death for Republican Presidential contenders in Iowa.   The two summer front runners in 2008, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain- the most liberal Republican nominee since President Ford-narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan in 1976-both skipped the caucuses.   History demonstrates that those who skip the caucus do poorly in the Caucuses.   The smart candidate would surely question, why caucus at all if a poor finish is almost assured?

Both GOP luminaries told the same big lie about the caucuses as does the liberal media complex.  The more flattering description of Iowa Republicans portrays us as "more conservative than the national Republican demographic".  The less flattering description, routinely used by the John McCain's of the party claims that Iowa Republicans are little more than Bible and gun clinging hayseeds.  The only difference between Iowa and southern Republicans in such a meme is our addiction to ethanol and not tobacco.

Losing participation of the two front runners was key blow in 2008.  Part of both campaign's explanations was a common belief that they system in Iowa was unfair and too controlled by insiders and arch conservatives.  What course of action should party leadership-and I emphasize not just the Chairman and Central Committee members-have taken for the 2012 process?

Dispelling the false notion that Iowa is a remote right wing outpost would seem to be the first and most important order of business.   Obviously the facts don't support a conclusion that the Caucuses are the product of a far right wing electorate.  Our governor is among the most liberal Republican state wide office holders in the country.  Our party leadership is tightly controlled by a small minority of equally "pro-government" Republicans, most of whom gain from a large actively spending government.

Moreover, the 2008 Caucus winner derived almost his entire margin of victory in the state's most urban, educated and populous county.  The second place finish was Mitt Romney himself.  Another very mainstream Republican won the caucuses in 2000 (George W. Bush, of course).  But let's take a further look at more remote history.

The 1996 winner was Bob Dole, hardly a right wing revolutionary or flaming evangelist.  Dole also won in 1988, pounding a real right wing evangelist Pat Robertson by a robust 12%.  George H.W. Bush even defeated Ronald Reagan in 1980.

In light of the reality of our demographic (almost all caucus attendees really come from Iowa's three or four largest counties) and our history it would seem party leadership would have an abundance of ammunition with which to defend the Caucuses.  Shockingly leadership has taken a different direction.

Governor Branstad and the IGOP's majordomo, Doug Gross issued the most critical statement yet about Iowa's Presidential process from an actual Iowan when he said:

“If Iowa becomes some extraneous right-wing outpost, you have to question whether it is going to be a good place to vet your presidential candidates,” Doug Gross, a Republican activist from Iowa, told The New York Times this year…"

The quote implies the existence of a problematic condition.  It also implies that we Iowa Republicans must somehow become more liberal if we are to save to process.  As we covered earlier this year, Bruce Raestetter, among the most liberal Republicans in Iowa, implicitly attacked the process by going to New Jersey in what appears to be a totally failed attempt to recruit Governor Chris Christie (whose views on tax subsidized industries might have proven rather disappointing to the Raestetter Mission had it been successful).  One may wonder at the motivation for words and actions that denigrate the process but the words have been said and the deeds have been done.

In fact, Secretary of State Matt Schultz's response to Jon Huntsman's withdrawal from Iowa appears to be a lonely voice among party leadership in defending the process and righting the lie that the Iowa Caucuses are an assembly of monolithic narrow minded superstitious lemmings. 

Our first in the nation status is always on thin ice.  We are a small state with an even smaller minority population (a major problem in a politically correct environment).  Florida in particular-with its 29 electoral votes-is always breathing down our neck.  Other larger swing states, Virginia, Colorado for example, can see much to gain from the demise of the Caucuses.

When the front runners pull out of a state two cycles in a row, for reasons echoed by that state's political leadership,  it will become virtually impossible to prevent the political predation by the existing large and hungry contenders.  After all, when important Iowa Republicans criticize the process and the electorate in Iowa what other conclusion can Republicans in other states draw?

It appears that 2012 will be the year remembered as the death of the Iowa Caucuses.  Killed from within and without.


RF said...

On the same/similar topic, saw this Ann Selzer piece in Politico:

Dan Marks said...

No, they are rigged ted. Hi pustule!!

Dan Marks ;)

Robert Petricci said...

Secret votes. This is America we do not have secret votes. We will rise up across this country if the GOP tries to vote in secret

Rober Petricci

Dan Marks said...

Ron Paul: Iowa Vote Fraud

what is this stuff ted? ron paul supporters count in the GOP too right? i know buddy romer doesn't but you are stuck with ron paul buddy. you know anything about this? would you like to make a statement?

staying out of trouble? oh ya, this is trouble. sorry, i know a good lawyer in des moines but he's a democrat. being a rising star in the GOP has its price.