Friday, January 04, 2008

Some Obligatory Thoughts on Iowa

I suppose I should say a thing or two about Iowa. But what could I say that Jonah Goldberg hasn't already said better? The Iowa caucus is about the dumbest way to open a presidential election season I know of. It's almost deliberately designed to cause upsets.

I wonder if that isn't why we keep it around? This election has been going on for way too long already - and it hasn't even started yet. Maybe something like Iowa is necessary to keep fringe politicians like John Edwards and Fred Thompson hopeful and doing their part long after all rational measures would say they're lost?

I don't know and I don't care. The point I want to make is just that if anyone wants to base their predictions about the rest of the campaign based on what happened in Iowa, they've lost the plot.

Take Huckabee. Contrary to what he no doubt wants us to think, Iowa has not just made him the Republican frontrunner. 80% of the people who voted for him were Christian fundamentalists. Right - so tell us something we don't know. Well, here's one: only 46% of the people who identify as fundamentalists voted for him - meaning over half of them didn't. In other words, his one-issue schtick doesn't seem to be helping all that much. Not to mention, any time the final result is based entirely on how the Baptists voted and Romney is the nominee presumptive, you're going to get a skewed view. They have a specific objection to Romney. So what seems to have happened is that they voted largely against Romney - but not necessarily for Huckabee. In the process, they made it clear that Jesus is Huckabee's only successful campaigning point, which can't make him all that optimistic going into states that don't care as much about all that superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

Take Hillary. So she lost to Obama. That's shocking until you realize that it was the women's vote that backstabbed her. She's been pandering to women voters nonstop in the runup. Unfortunately for her, most women are apparently more intelligent than she gives them credit for. She tells them to vote for her because she's a woman, they say "do you have any other qualifications?," and she doesn't have an answer. She's going to have to find one. And of course, she will, because all of her well-paid campaign advisers are going to tell her to drop the "woman president" schtick if it's just failed so spectacularly to deliver as promised. Whatever they come up with, Obama and his 20min. of actual political experience are going to have a hard time countering.

The only thing that counts as "surprising" and significant for me in Iowa is how well Ron Paul did. The media won't tell you, but he's quietly picked up 10%. If he can do 10% in the ethanol subsidy state, I'm guessing he can do a lot better on the Free State Project's home court. Libertarianism is on the rise, and that makes me feel good about the long-term future, even though I think 2008 is going to be a disaster. My dream of Ron Paul sabotaging the Republicans' chances for a win this year edges closer to reality.

But in terms of the election's outcome, Iowa hasn't changed anything. I'm still calling a Romney-vs-Hillary election. The only thing I learned yesterday is that it might be a Romney-Huckabee ticket vs. a Clinton-Obama ticket. Since I'm not going to be voting for either of those, I don't really care.

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