Radio talk show host Steve Deace has an interesting article in today’s Politico. Later today I’ll talk about it in more detail. Right now I think though the question shouldn’t be who can win the Iowa Caucuses, but why the Iowa Caucuses at all?
Maybe it should still go first. I like caucus system and think the way the Democrats do it with second ballots and viability is very interesting. Of course Iowa is in the heartland and is a swing state (although it has swung Democrat in every election since 1988 accept 2004) so having the backing the party there is important.
But consider these facts. First, it’s not binding. The results from caucus night are reported to the state party and the media. The actual delegates are not selected until the state party convention. So in theory a candidate could win 45% of the votes in the caucuses and end up with no delegates at the GOP National Convention. The entire vote, which is done on a secret ballot or by a show of hands with each precinct reporting in to the state party individually, is simply something for the media to cover.
Second, it has a mixed bag. Bush, Dole, Huckabee and Santorum won it in (80, 88, 08, 12 respectively) and then went on to not win the nomination.
Third, they got the winner wrong last time on election night. The media reported:
It turns out an honest mistake gave Romney an 8 vote win on caucus night which was later corrected. Station KCCI reported:
Edward True, 28, of Moulton, said he helped count the votes and jotted the results down on a piece of paper to post to his Facebook page. He said when he checked to make sure the Republican Party of Iowa got the count right, he said he was shocked to find they hadn’t.
“When Mitt Romney won Iowa by eight votes and I’ve got a 20-vote discrepancy here, that right there says Rick Santorum won Iowa,” True said. “Not Mitt Romney.”
True said at his 53-person caucus at the Garrett Memorial Library, Romney received two votes. According to the Iowa Republican Party’s website, True’s precinct cast 22 votes for Romney.
“This is huge,” True said. “It essentially changes who won.”
In a race as close as the 2012 primary was to have robbed Santorum (believe me I’m no Santorum fan) of the momentum that he deserved after really WINNING the caucus impacted the contest. If the vote is reported accurately then Santorum gets the momentum that comes from winning (face on every major newspaper and news magazine/website saying WINNER) and also probably benefits from the lionshare of the stop Romney forces (which were divided for the rest of the primary between Santorum and Newt) rallying behind him after that.
Given how competitive the race is going to be in 2016 is it really smart to start it out in Iowa?