What’s Happening in Iowa?
February 1. The dawn of a new era of politics begins on that day. This Monday, three days from now, the Iowa Caucuses will commence, starting the first “voting” of the upcoming presidential election.
Why Iowa? Why do we put so much emphasis on Iowa? Well, the answer is fairly simple: because Iowa decided to be important in 1972. The Iowa Caucus was born in 1972 by the Democratic Party, then, in 1976, the Republican Party jumped on the bandwagon and joined the Caucus, making it the same day as when the Democrats would caucus.
The difference between a caucus and a regular voting booth is there is no booth. Voters go to a location, stay and listen to speakers about candidates and parties, and then all cast a ballot fairly collectively. Republicans tend to have an open-caucus, meaning they still have the privacy of each individual vote. On the other end of the table, the Democrats have a closed-caucus, which means you have to tell everyone in the area for whom you are voting. So theoretically, everyone will know that you are the only person in Iowa who voted for Martin O’Malley.
Do the Iowa Caucuses have a major effect on who is going to win the Presidential Election? No. There have been eight presidents since 1972. Not counting Gerald Ford, since he did not get elected President, only four of the last seven Presidents won in Iowa. The three that lost? Mr. Bill Clinton, Mr. George H.W. Bush and Mr. Ronald Reagan.
Perhaps the most important question about this process: Do the Iowa Caucuses really matter? Not really, but they do a little. If Mr. Donald Trump wins Iowa, he will be a more serious candidate. If Sen. Ted Cruz wins, it’s what most people, I believe, expected. If someone like Sen. Marco Rubio wins, it would be shocking, and it would give him more hope in the race. The Iowa Caucuses narrow down the Presidential nominees, so in that sense, they matter, but they don’t matter as much as the media wants you to believe.
Of course, even though caucuses haven’t been historically accurate, this election has been particularly interesting in the lead-up to February 1. Thursday night, Mr. Trump opted out of participating in the final Republican debate. With most media coverage emphasizing the Trump/Cruz mudslinging, many polls, with their spectrum of accuracies, indicate that individuals in the GOP want someone else entirely to join the race, and join quickly.
Established Republicans have thrown out many names. Earle I. Mack, former Ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush and current real-estate developer, told The New York Times earlier this week how hurtful inner-party mudslinging is for elections, and he said, in case of emergency, the party should turn to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to save the day.
The Democratic Party has been much less abrasive with one another, with only three candidates vying for the nomination. Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are the clear front-runners, and while they have been attacking one another, it holds no candle to the current Republican antics.
Sen. Sanders told reports in late December, “Here’s my prediction to you. On election night, if voter turnout is high, you can go to bed early, we win.”
I agree with him. From my research and personal opinion, Mrs. Clinton doesn’t have the support that the national polls show. Sen. Sanders has appealed to many young voters with his cry for free education and health-care. The Wall Street Journal wrote on Sunday, “He [Sen. Sanders] said he would encourage people to gather in Washington to demand that Congress pass his agenda. He added that if Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell looks out his window and sees a million young people demanding free college tuition, ‘He may start reconsidering.’”
Young people are on his side. These free college protests bring more and more voters to Sen. Sanders. On Monday night, these calls might become even louder in Sen. Sanders’ favor.
On February 1, Iowa turns into Las Vegas. The Iowa Caucuses are like gamblers predicting the Super Bowl winner before the NFL season begins. Iowa is saying, “This is who we think is going to win,” just like Las Vegas gamblers saying, “This is who is going to win the Super Bowl.”
Monday is the first step to an amazingly long process to find our next leader. My predictions for the winners of Iowa are Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican Party and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic Party.