Thursday, January 3, 2008

Does Iowa Matter?

I believe the Iowa caucuses are vastly overrated—and undemocratic, to boot. Paul over at Powerline sums it up nicely:

I haven’t yet figured out which candidate I support for president, but I know who I’m pulling for in Iowa: Mike Huckabee and John Edwards. It’s not that I want either to be president. On the contrary, they are among my least preferred candidates in their respective parties. So why root for them in Iowa? Because a victory by either would help discredit that state’s caucuses.

I find it offensive to think that 75,000 Iowans (or whatever the number is), a disproportionate number of whom have nothing to do for several hours on a week night, get to play a major role in the nomination process. Actually, I doubt that they play such a role – in my view the Iowa caucuses are vastly overrated. However, it’s generally thought that the caucuses are important, and that perception alone is enough to distort the process.
In our information-drenched society, who has the time to weigh the value of this pointless political exercise? If the media says it’s important—it must be important. The reality is, what happens in Iowa will have little or no impact on who ultimately gets the nomination. Aside from being the first state in the country to kick off the election cycle, what does Iowa, a small state, and the 75,000 Iowans who participate in the caucuses, have to offer? Very little except for talking points for the media, who have created the perception that Iowa matters.