Friday, December 23, 2011

Pick a Winner in Iowa Race

Can we really pick a winner in the Iowa campaign? Remember, this is not a primary vote but a caucus procedure. There’s a big difference!
by Charlie Leck

Voting in a primary is quite simple; still many people don’t do it and primary turnouts are less than 50 percent smaller than regular, national elections (often much less than 50 percent).

Turnouts to political caucuses are incredibly small
and no one, who really understands the process, would argue that they are really representative. We don’t have primaries here in Minnesota for these national elections – we caucus by party. We had a huge turnout in my precinct for the 2008 attempt to indicate a Democratic Party presidential choice. In my precinct caucus we had about 30 people.
I think there will likely be even less this year – maybe even as few as a dozen – because it appears no one is going to oppose Obama. Even so, very important decisions are made at these caucuses and sometimes it’s only 5 or 6 people who make these decisions. It’s the beginning of the process to endorse candidates to other offices as well – including the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and the state legislature.

I’ll be at my Democratic Party caucus again this year because I understand the importance of those gatherings.

We’ve been misled because Iowa’s choices aren’t really that important!
As I write this, the dependable polling in Iowa shows that the winner is likely to be either Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Readers and friends from regions far east and west of here are not agreeing with me. They’re betting on Gingrich. It looks to be as if Gingrich is now fading, however.

Listen, Iowa is just a hop, skip and a jump from where I sit writing this and I kind of know Iowa and how Iowans think. They don’t like the million-plus dollar payout that Gingrich took from Fanny Mae for a “consulting” job. They’re tittering about it! They also don’t like it that he’s had three wives and that he was involved in a very hot extra-marital affair while he was hammering Bill Clinton for doing so while Clinton was President. They also don’t like it that Gingrich has run up tabs of over a quarter of a million dollars at the famous Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Two weeks ago I put my money on Mint Romney. I feel jittery about that now. Romney just isn’t catching fire down there. It’s starting to look more and more like Congressman Ron Paul may overtake the former Massachusetts Governor. Ron Paul is an Iowa kind of guy.

January 3 is the date and a lot depends on the weather!
The weather will be a factor in Iowa. If it turns mean on January 3, with very low, cold temperatures and some significant snow, the turnout could be very low. Only the deeply committed will venture out into the freezing night. Whenever you listen to Iowa folks talking about Mr. Romney, they sound very soft on supporting him. It’s difficult to go out on a cold, snowy night to support someone you’re just not sure about.

So, what if Ron Paul wins?
A victory in Iowa, contrary to conventional wisdom, is not all that important just because it does represent such a small majority of the state’s voting citizens. We won’t get a real sense of who the President is going to run against until well into April. And, don’t count out Rick Santorum to be there at the end.

How does the caucus work?
In January of 2008 I wrote a blog about the caucus procedure:
The Place of the Caucus. Check it out!

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