Thursday, January 03, 2008

IOWA CAUCUS - IOWA SHMAUCUS

The headlines scream it: "Iowans ready to make or break candidates." What?? This is another bizarre aspect of the whacky US electoral system. Why does the Iowa caucus make or break candidates? Do Iowans really represent the majority of US voters? I don't get it.

I listened to a report recently explaining the Iowa caucus system, and believe me, I didn't understand it. The caucus rules are more complex than any board game, card game or sport - the only word I can think of to describe it is "weird." It's basically a popularity contest where the people participating get to select first and second choices, and change their votes.

And now we'll all have to endure the constant media blitz of reports, analyses, and the parade of talking heads that will tell us what it all means. Oy - where can I hide until it's over?

3 comments:

Tiff said...

I agree, I think it's unfair that so much weight is put on the first states to hold their primaries.

As an Oregonian, I feel by the time the primaries are held here (May 20th), it will be a done deal.

If I ruled the world, the primary schedule would be based on past election voting history for each state. So, if you have a heavily democratic voting state then you get to vote first. As it is, Utah, a historically republican voting state, decides waaaaaay earlier than Oregon (Feb. 5th vs. May 20th) in the democratic primaries.

Also, an interesting fact, our east and west coasts generally vote democratic in presidential elections. The east and west coasts also have the highest concentrations of highly educated citizens - coincidence?

Maybe we should let people vote based on education level? Even better, I'll just decide. Oh wait, I'm getting too drunk on my 'ruling the world' fantasy. I better go have a cup of coffee and sober up.

pjd said...

Counting on Iowa is a lot like counting on how something plays in Peoria. Statisticians make models based on past performance and correlate projections accordingly. Of course, those models do not take into account the impact that the media have on creating the success of the models by reporting them and thereby legitimizing them.

In effect, it becomes a self-fulfilling projection. People in the later states hear that Iowans picked Jar Jar Binks in the Republican Primary, and they know that whatever the Iowans say must turn out to be true because CBS reports it that way, so they go out and vote for Jar Jar too, or if they were going to pick the other guy they'll stay home. Unfortunate, really.

Also, an interesting fact, our east and west coasts generally vote democratic in presidential elections. The east and west coasts also have the highest concentrations of highly educated citizens - coincidence?

I've been asking that question for years myself. The east and west coasts also tend to have far higher diversity levels.

Paul said...

Maybe all primaries should be on the same day - what a concept. Then the earlier primaries don't influence the later ones. I agree with pjd that the reporting re: Iowa, for example, establishes a mind set for voters in other states: "hmmm, Huckleberry was the winner in Iowa, so maybe I'll vote for him."

In my mind, there were some important items from the Iowa votes, mainly that white America (the Heartland) will vote for a black man for president (and, in fact, will vote in large numbers for a woman) - this is encouraging, and perhaps answers in the positive a question I posed last year in a post - is America ready for a woman or black president? To me, this is exciting.

Another important item from Iowa - a non-mainstream Republican can win, although this has to be tempered by the Iowa demographic re: evangelical/church voters.

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