A Very Exciting Iowa Caucus Was Had By All

Iowa City Democratic Caucus 2008Last night, I found myself quite interested in the Iowa Caucus. This came as a surprise to me.

I am deeply divided on the idea of a caucus. On the one hand, I like how interactive it is. On the other, people have busy lives. A lot of working people are tired at night and don’t have the energy to go and mess with the whole process. But then you add on top of that the fact that it is done in the dead of winter in a state that is quite cold. And you finish it off with the fact that Iowa is a ridiculously homogeneous state, with a population of about 3% African American and no Latinos to speak of.

So put it all together and you have a prescription for a “democratic” process that leads to oligarchy. Thus, I’ve never thought that much of the Iowa Caucus.

Republican Iowa Caucus

Ted Cruz won the Iowa Caucus, but really, it was a three way tie with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. Obviously, this makes the Republican establishment very happy. And maybe Rubio will get a big bump out of this. But the fact remains that the Iowa Caucus format helped him. In New Hampshire and South Carolina, Rubio is barely out of the single digits. We will see. (For the record: Ted Cruz is doing almost exactly as well as Rubio in these next two states.)

There is something else, though. Even though I think presidential elections are primarily about economics, I do know that candidates matter. And despite what the common wisdom is on Rubio, I think he’s a terrible candidate. I know some people say that Hillary Clinton seems fake, but that is nothing compared to Rubio. This is a guy who will turn on a dime based upon the political winds. And the entire focus of his campaign is that he’s young. Well, he does come off as young — as in not prepared, not serious, not anything. And as I’ve discussed, his ideas are old.

Rubio being the great hope of the Republican establishment is based on their boneheaded notion of identity politics. By their theory, it doesn’t matter what a politician thinks, so long as they are the right demographic. After years and years of running African American candidates who do not appeal to African Americans, you would think the Republicans would learn. But no.

We’ll see what the next week brings. The only real concern I ever had of the Republican field was that it might nominate Kasich. If Cruz, Trump, and Rubio are what the Republicans have to offer, then Clinton or Sanders will be running against the economy and only the economy.

Democratic Iowa Caucus

This one surprised me. Or it did until I read this headline in The Washington Post, Early Democratic Entrance Polls Show Big Liberal Turnout in Iowa Caucus. I wrote in my Recycled Genius post (which is turning into a kind of announcement space) that my two greatest fears were that Hillary Clinton would win and that Hillary Clinton would lose. And I more or less got my wish, because this election was amazingly close: 701 SDEs (State Delegate Equivalents) for Hillary and 697 SDEs for Bernie. (Martin O’Malley got 8.) That gave Sanders 21 delegates and Clinton 22 delegates, but I guess Clinton gets one more for winning the state.

You need to remember, however, that this is all much more complicated than it looks. If Clinton and Sanders were evenly divided by the DNC, Clinton would win. Right now, Sanders has 13 super delegates and Clinton has 347. Of course, right now in New Hampshire, Sanders is dominating with a lead of upwards of 20 percentage points in the polls. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Clinton is crushing it with a polling lead of over 30 percentage points.

This is crazy. But exciting. And as a Democrat, I hope this goes on. Martin O’Malley has suspended this campaign. That leaves just Clinton and Sanders, who I think have been very good and very respectful. It’s not like in Life of Brian, “The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f@#king Judean People’s Front!” I’m not so sure that’s true on the Republican side.

Summing Up

I think it is important to remember that just as we are right about the Republicans, they are right about us: there isn’t much difference between the candidates. The three Republican at the top in Iowa all think that we need to lower taxes on the rich, cut spending on the poor, get rid of regulation, and “drill, baby, drill!” On the Democratic side, both our candidates want to tax the rich more to provide a more equal distribution of wealth and to invest in the future of this country. They both want to do something about global warming. Neither are planning to take us to war with Iran.

There is a clear decision between the parties — not so much inside the parties. What continues to boggle my mind is that roughly half the nation will vote for the Republicans. I don’t say that as a partisan. I can well see a conservative party that is worthy of people voting for. But not this one.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

31 thoughts on “A Very Exciting Iowa Caucus Was Had By All

      • Right now it means that nothing has been decided one way or the other nor is there much of a difference in where we were last week with any of the races.

        So basically my oft expressed wish for it to be over has not been granted.

        • But it’s good! The campaigns are going to have more debates. I still think that Clinton is going to win, so as a Clinton supporter, you should like that she will be well exercised for the general. I would be surprised and disappointed if it turns nasty.

          Head’s up: Wednesday’s morning there’s another Krugman-Sanders articles. I tell you, the man is driving me crazy!

          • I know you think it is good. If it was just the candidates then you would be correct. However it is not just the candidates-it is their supporters who are getting out of hand. And the media-my friend Donna pointed out Sunday that the media would claim Clinton lost Iowa even if she won it if it was not huge win by twenty points.

            She was right.

            I could deal with my friends fighting on Facebook over these two candidates or the media, but with both? Bleech.

            Maybe I need more chocolate.

            • Yes! And may I suggest chocolate in the form of ice cream. Personally, I’m a vanilla man. Or, to be honest, my all time favorite ice cream: Haagen-Dazs Dulce De Leche Caramel. Oh. My. God. I will admit, there are some indications of a loving God, and that is one of them.

              But you are wrong! That one article doesn’t prove anything. From what I see, everyone is just treading water, waiting to see what’s going to happen. Basically we all know that Sanders will win big in NH and then Clinton will win even bigger in SC. That might turn out a little different, but I don’t see it as a big deal. On the other hand, even if Hillary had lost by as much as she won, I think a lot of idiots would be making a big deal out of it.

              My advice to all Democrats is simple: chill out. I think we have two really good candidates. I think if we didn’t have them, Martin O’Malley would have been a hell of a candidate. (He’s got to work on the squinting, though.) I’m much more concerned about the Republicans. I would rather have Trump (because the media will continue to point out how horrible he is in ways that they wouldn’t with a regular candidate) or Cruz (because he’s just awful and I think everyone sees that). I don’t want Rubio, but only because I don’t want to spend the next 9 months wanting to slap him, because that’s what I want to do every time I see him.

              There is one thing that Krugman wrote (in the article I will blast him on in a day or two) that was absolutely correct: I’ve been hearing some Sanders’ supporters repeating old Republican lies about the Clintons from the 1990s! This has got to stop. We really need to get everyone to watch this Michelle Goldberg video, which I’ve highlighted many times before. Not only is she right, I am embarrassed to admit that I just naturally have crushes on women who have that haircut — especially if they are super smart as she is.

              • It was supposed to be a different article but I got tired of re-writing my post when it was flagged for spam. Apparently your spam filter hates the Washington Post.

                There was another post about the idea that Clinton is somehow evil and wrong that I did like: http://thedailybanter.com/2016/01/hillary-gop-smears/

                I am surprisingly in favor of Rubio-he is so lazy that it would be really easy to go up against him no matter which candidate wins. In fact any of the three of them have huge glaring flaws we can drive trucks through.

                As for chocolate, did you get your girl scout cookies?

                And I wish I could do a pixie cut like that. But alas, I have to walk around with a Cousin It style hair cut.

                • Yes, I firmly believe the only chance the GOP has against anyone the Democrats run is that the economy goes south.

                  Don’t you have to wait to see the Girl Scouts in front of the supermarket to buy cookies?

                  Cousin It is good too. Do you talk like that too?

                  • If…it is Sanders maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe? If it is Clinton everyone will be all like “she will do exactly what her husband did.” But Sanders, if he can somehow beat off the attacks on how he will raise everyone’s taxes, might be able to convince people that government can fix the problems. I don’t know.

                    I suppose you do have to leave the house to buy them if your friends and family don’t have little ones of the right age bracket.

                    As for the Cousin It voice. Sure, why not?

                    • One thing is that I just don’t think a revolution is a one election kind of thing. We need three elections — resounding defeats against the oligarchs, and things will start to turn around. Even actual revolutions didn’t happen overnight. That doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to slow progress. But we have a long way to go, and even Bernie Sanders with Democratic control of Congress would not get us where we need to go in 8 years. But it would be infinitely better.

                    • It isn’t-it took a GD, WWII and even then there was too much backlash the last time we truly revamped everything in this country.

                    • I would hardly call that a revamp. It was mostly just the conservatives calming down for a couple of decades — being more civic minded. That was it.

                    • I disagree-prior to the Great Depression, there was talk of but no action on the part of something like Social Security. It was a sea change in how we not only viewed government but how we actually operated it.

                      Even with the Republicans wanting to trash 70% of the federal government (or something), most of them get that they cannot truly go back to 1928.

                    • I agree with that, but you are changing the subject. We were talking about WWII. What I tried to explain to my libertarian friends when I was a libertarian is how FDR, with things like SS, managed to stop us from having a revolution. But they were purists. FDR was evil.

                      Increasingly, I think Republicans want to go back to 1878. It seems the Federalist Society has been pushing a lot of stuff saying that all the Progressive Era legislation is unconstitutional. On this point, I think I’m much less optimistic than you.

                    • I mentioned the Great Depression but I called it GD.

                      I can see their going back to 1878. That was before the fierce discontent and social progress of the Progressive Era that bled into the eventual successes with the GD, WWII and the 50s.

                      But I think because of the GD and WWII there was a definite difference in how everyone viewed the federal government. Even the SCOTUS caved (BEFORE the court packing scheme which while a naked power grab did have some quality reason behind it.)

                    • Oh! I thought you were just going along with my reluctance toward coarse language. I thought it was short for “God damned.” That’s pretty funny. I am amazing clueless!

                      The business community still fought hard against liberalization during the Great Depression. I think it was WWII that made them back off. But not complete. I mean, Taft–Hartley came in 1947.

                    • Hahaha, no. If I want to swear I will but I generally don’t on here out of politeness sake just as I refuse to fight.

                      The business community fought as hard as they could until they had to unite for five seconds for WWII but as we saw with Taft-Hartley, that didn’t last very long. I think it makes sense in context since Truman overreached a bit however I disagree with the way they went about it.

                    • I don’t mind coarse language. I just decided a year or two that I wouldn’t use it in articles. In fact, I highly recommend Ruth Wajnryb’s Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language. Sadly, she died young, because she was on my list of people to strike up a correspondence with.

  1. “That gave Sanders 21 delegates and Clinton 22 delegates, but I guess Clinton gets one more for winning the state.”

    This is a sensible way to divide delegates- it’s a shame the Electoral College isn’t run that way.

    • I kind of agree. The problem is gerrymandering. What we really should have is popular vote. The reason we didn’t in the first place was because we didn’t have the technology. We do today. But the small states will never agree to give up their extra clout. Oh, I shouldn’t say that. People do the right thing sometimes even when it hurts them personally. But I know Wyoming isn’t going to give up its advantage.

  2. I’m not buying that Hillary believes in any of the things you cite as policies she has in common with Bernie, certainly not in the sense that they are high on her list of priorities. Her populist masquerade is no more convincing than was Gore’s last-minute turnaround in 2000. In personal qualities I can’t see Bernie and Hillary as at all similar. Note that I’m not a Bernie fanboy — I’ve listened to him for years on the Thom Hartmann show and always felt he was weak tea as a “socialist”/progressive, though that’s partly due to him being a very practical politician. Which of course still leaves him head and shoulders above most Democrats.

    Corey Robin has had some things to say about “electability” —
    http://coreyrobin.com/2016/01/22/bile-bullshit-and-bernie-16-notes-on-the-democratic-primary/

    “What we really should have is popular vote. The reason we didn’t in the first place was because we didn’t have the technology.”
    Not at all. The US constitution was very deliberately engineered to insure the continued power of the economic elite of the time. My go-to book on the constitution as a source of anti-democratic gridlock is Daniel Lazare’s “The Frozen Republic”.
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/741187.The_Frozen_Republic

    • I’ll check out the Robin article. The other issue I’m not that interested in. I think it is open to debate. But clearly there were a lot of anti-democratic parts of the Constitution and most of the founding fathers were pretty afraid of the people generally.

      I just don’t accept your take on Hillary from a psychological standpoint. But it doesn’t really matter. There’s no doubt that Sanders has made her a far better candidate than she was. Ultimately, no one really cares what any politician thinks in their heart because they can’t possibly know it. What matters is what policies they will pursue. I support Sanders because I agree more with his positions, although you are quite right: in no other advanced economy could he call himself a socialist. He’s just a liberal as we used to define the term before the New Democrats decided that the Democratic Party should be Republican Lite (which, of course, just made the Republicans become Republican Extreme).

      The only real question, though, is whether you would support Clinton in the general election. Because we heard this the “Tweedledum and Tweedledee” argument with Bush and Gore, and I think we all know things would have been a lot better under Gore. We unfortunately live in a two party system. I would prefer a parliament (not that it is perfect). If we had a parliament, I definitely wouldn’t be a Democrat. But as it is, I will support whomever the Democrats nominate — unless it is Andrew Cuomo, in which case I’ll just kill myself.

      • I don’t know that constitutional issues have an immediate practical application, but it is illuminating to look at politics from a viewpoint that’s outside our civic mythology.

        I admit to a visceral dislike of both Clintons ever since they appeared on the national stage in ’92. Their true priorities have always seemed to me more personal than civic, but I wouldn’t care if it weren’t that their policies also stink. Hillary has certainly shown she can be tough when standing up to personal attacks, but when it comes to standing up for the interests of the rest of us… not so much, as evidenced by her Iraq vote and a number of other things. No need to analyze psychology when there is a public history to look at.

        Has Bernie’s success made Hillary a better candidate? Well, it has prodded her into revealing her true feelings about universal healthcare (“never, ever”) and her campaign has been using some of the same sleazy tactics that were employed against Obama in 2008. Not very appealing. If you mean that her rhetoric has shifted in a positive direction, I suppose that does make her a better candidate — but for the life of me I can’t discern why anyone thinks it will make her a better office holder.

        As for electoral choices, that’s partly about where, if at all, a voter chooses to draw the line. Also about one’s opinion on the long term consequences of lesser-evilism. I’m not confident enough to tell anyone else what to do in that regard.

        • During Clinton’s acceptance speech in 1992, I turned to my college roommate and said “he seems like the kind of person who wants every voice to be heard at the governor’s mansion.” My roommate, from Arkansas, said, “release the hounds.”

          The long-term consequences of lesser-evilism are dire. No question. The question is about shorter-term consequences, and how they effect the long term. Clearly the Democratic party has lost muchworking-class support by embracing neoliberal economic policies, leaving many workers to the GOP (which pushes shit worse than neoliberalism, but at least acknowledges how workers, particularly white male undereducated workers, feel betrayed by Democrats.)

          So how do we get workers back? There’s a real issue here. You know the long-term answer just like we all do; ground-level organizing. In the meantime (that organizing will take decades), do we reject Democrats who aren’t changing anything? Does that help move the party in the direction we want? Just by not losing, and making incremental improvements possible, can we demonstrate how government sometimes benefits workers? When the GOP doesn’t run it?

          I don’t know. I don’t know if stemming the tide is better, making marginal improvements is better, focusing on fighting stuff like Bush trying to private Social Security is better, championing and losing out on good programs for workers and the unemployed poor is better. I have no answers.

          I will say; always vote your conscience. If we’re not voting for what we want instead of what we can get, we’ve given up on democracy altogether. But one can always vote radical and volunteer to support the establishment somewhat-liberal. That’s not selling yourself out at all. And unless it’s Florida in 2000, your volunteer efforts (or conversations with people you know) make more difference than one oval on a ballot.

          Your take is quite negative, but I gotta say, it’s very well-written. By my estimation, which is worth approximately $1 per geologic eon on the open market!

          • Thanks, I think. I really don’t enjoy feeling like the turd in everyone’s punchbowl, but there it is.

        • Campaigns do matter — at least for presidents. There is so much attention paid to them that they really do govern in accordance with their campaigns. But it has to be specific. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” never meant anything other than that he wanted to give a bunch of money to churches. I think without Sanders, Clinton would be talking a $9 or perhaps $10 minimum wage. But don’t get me wrong: it bothers me that the $12 she is proposing just happens to be half way between the minimum that any reasonable person thinks and what Sanders is proposing. And she has made some financial regulation proposals that are stronger because of Sanders, I think.

          I have to give both Bill Clinton and George W Bush credit. They were both important to my realignment. Bush helped me see just how off the rails American politics were and Clinton made me realize that now the Democratic Party was the conservative one. It’s very dangerous right now. It’s more or less like a country that has a conservative and a fascist party. In fact, it’s worse, because at least most fascist parties are reasonably liberal when it comes to economics. In the US, it is all economic conservatism, all the time.

          • “they really do govern in accordance with their campaigns”

            Oh? Remember when Obama was totes against an individual mandate for health insurance? Or perhaps you feel that the Obama administration has actually been the most transparent ever? I’d have to say not, particularly considering Obama’s stance on whistleblowers, information suppression after the BP oil spill and the backdoor sabotage of the public option. I suppose if you’re a half-full sort of guy, though, you can make a case…
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/03/16/has-obama-delivered-the-most-transparent-administration-in-history/

            • Candidates are usually careful about saying what they will fight for, not what they will deliver. They know they can’t say what they will be able to deliver. A number of studies have found that presidents stick pretty closely by their promises. If Clinton becomes president, she will push for an increase to the $12 minimum wage. In general, the reason Sanders is better is not because he believes in raising the minimum wage more, but that asking for $15 is more likely to get $12, than asking for $12 will get $12.

              But now that you mention it, Obama claimed he was against the individual mandate. That didn’t make any sense. Were Krugman and Chait all over him about it the way they are now all over Bernie about his single payer plan likely costing 20% more than his calculations indicate? Because Obama’s “idealism” was far less justifiable than Bernie’s. It’d be interesting to go back and look.

    • Something that was very illuminating to me in 2008 were the campaign policy advisers Obama brought on. I think one of them was Lawrence Summers, and you know that doesn’t bode well. I looked at Clinton’s the other day, and no names rang a bell. Might be worth checking out who they are.

      The thing with politicians is we have to push them. If the benefits of taking a particular course outweigh the consequences, usually they’ll take that course. Naturally different people will weigh these things according to their individual principles. (Maybe the main difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats try to justify selling out their principles; for Republicans, selling themselves IS principle!)

      • Having known dozens of office holders, most of them are too busy with everything else they need to do to care over much about any issue that is not a pet issue. So if you really want to get martial rape to be a felony with significant prison time-you will have to fight hard to get anyone to vote your way to use an example.

        Now if this is something that conflicts with their general campaign promises/district preferences, you probably will not prevail.

        • “You will not prevail.” Sounds very Game Of Thrones. Probably accurate, though, as GOT is about politics minus the dragons and black magic.

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