The Weight of Iowa

Wed, January 2, 2008

Women in Politics

Bill Clinton lost the Iowa caucuses.

Not by just a little bit.

Clinton tanked.

In 1992, the winner of the Iowa caucuses was …. Tom Harkin. He won 76 percent of the vote. “Uncommitted” came in at 12% and Bill Clinton received only 2.8% of the caucus votes.

And that turned out pretty well for Bill Clinton in the end.

The New York Times did a little retrospective this week of who came out on top of the Iowa caucuses in the elections since 1972. Take a look at their chart and it will give you a whole new perspective on the constant drumbeat from the press of ‘If (insert candidate’s name here) doesn’t win Iowa, they’re done.’

I’m pretty much finished listening to the regular commentators predict doom and destruction for the candidates who don’t come out on top of this oddly-constructed Midwestern popularity contest. If we can take the Democratic Iowa caucus results to the political bank, then we would have had at least four years of President Dick Gephardt instead of Bush I.

Iowa may be a good indicator of what voters are thinking about now. But today and the day of the caucuses are just snapshots in time. Current events change in the blink of an eye and what we think of how any candidate can handle being the leader of the free world changes that quickly, too.

One California voter I was talking with over the weekend, who I was happy to hear is supporting John Edwards, had to admit that after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto she wondered whether perhaps we needed someone in the White House with the foreign policy experience of Joe Biden.

It can all change on a dime and it will. I don’t know how or why we forget that every four years, but we do.

It’s fun to watch what’s happening in Iowa (unless you’re there and freezing your tail off!), but it isn’t the political be all and end all.

But if you’re looking for some live-blogging of the action there, please stop the MOMocrats blog and welcome our new MOMocrat contributors who are covering the caucuses.

Also, for a slightly different view of our unpredictable process, stop by and spend some time with my friend Justin Webb at his BBC blog — those Brits sometimes have a clearer perspective on our process than we do!

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One Response to “The Weight of Iowa”

  1. Paige Says:

    This is a great point and a good post, PM. Though I may not always comment when you’re at your pundit-y best, please know that items like this help my perspective on all this.

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