It’s a question I’ve asked for years: Why does Iowa play such an important role in the presidential process?
As a Virginia resident, I’m jealous. What do we have to do to have presidential candidates frequent our BBQ joints and ice cream parlors? To show up at local events and livestock sales, and talk with residents and community leaders while chowing down on flapjacks and hamburgers?
I want some of that attention. And how did the Iowa caucuses get that kind of attention?
I realize they are the first when presidential primaries begin. But do they really carry that much weight?
Today Erik Erickson at RedState, while defending his friend Liz Mair who has resigned from the Scott Walker Iowa campaign (see Iowa G.O.P. to Walker: Drop adviser who trashed state), wrote this that shows the unimportance of Iowa (see Dear @ScottWalker, Liz Mair is a friend of mine):
The Iowa Caucus picked Bush over Reagan in 1980, Dole over Bush in 1988, Huckabee over McCain in 2008, and Santorum over Romney in 2012. It’s straw poll has only picked the right candidate once since 1979.
Not a good track record especially as the rest of the nation looks on and wonders how to have such access to candidates. Indeed, there was this (see Iowa’s bad track record for picking GOP winners):
Iowa has a bad track record when it comes to influencing who will be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. When the races are contested, the winner of the GOP Iowa caucuses usually does not win the second nominating contest, the New Hampshire primaries, and more often than not loses the overall nomination as well. In the five contested races over the past quarter century (1980, 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2008), the eventual party nominee won the Iowa caucuses twice: Kansas Senator Bob Dole in 1996 and Texas Governor George W. Bush in 2000 [emphasis added]. In the three other years the winners were Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1980 (eight years prior to his eventual nomination in 1988), Bob Dole in 1988 (again eight years in advance of his success) and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in 2008.
Erik was just slightly off but the point remains: When all is said and done, Iowa seems to have little influence on the final GOP presidential selection — it is reminiscent of the closed conventions currently being favored in Virginia (see Iowa caucuses are a poor proxy for America by Rick Ridder in the Denver Post) — and, yet, the pilgrimage continues.