Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's the Matter with Iowa?

Expanding a bit on points in my "Evidence" post, and indulging in petty politics for a moment:

Iowa is a diverse state, more so than it's given credit for.  But the Iowa GOP is not, most reporters say, and especially not the core GOPers who vote in their caucuses.  It is heavily Rabid Christian Right, or Teavangelical.  And therein lies a tale, or two.

It will be the first test for the GOPer prez sweepstakes.  If Newt Romney wins it, conventional wisdom sez that the nomination is his, because it's where he's weakest.  So far he's not even campaigning there.  Recently there have been hints that his campaign sees an opening, because he's doing surprisingly well in polls and nobody else is running away with the field. 

So the Iowa caucus will test this presumption: that the Iowa GOPer participants are all about Teavangelical dogma and prejudices (otherwise known as "social issues" or "culture wars") and don't much care about electability or the economy or anything else.  That would be just about be deep-sixed by a Romney win.  Except...

Everybody else is running as a Rabid Right Xtian.  But nobody is emerging as the favorite--maybe nobody is pure enough, or has thrilled enough people, or spread enough money around--who knows? ( Most of them don't have much money to spread around, 'cept Cowboy Rick.)  So they could divide the Teavangelical vote and Romney could win, except...

He's Mormon.  That makes him dangerous as far as Tvans are concerned.  He may not get enough votes to prevail even in a divided Tvan field.  Or, at the last minute, in a panic at giving the Mormon the win, people unite around one Tvan.  Michele.  Herman KochCain.  Rick Sanctimonious. Mitt Gingrich.   Or Cowboy Rick. 

This is where you gotta like Cowboy Rick, on paper at least.  He's got the money and organization.  And Tvans might be convinced by that, because a Tvan who wins here, will need to win in South Carolina, Florida, etc.  Cause Newt Romney will likely win New Hampshire.  Only Cowboy Rick can make the case that he has the resources to move on.  But he's doing poorly in Iowa so far, so this would be a last minute, hot-breathing, now let me drive you to the caucus argument.

But this is only if  Iowa Tvans show a new capability of being reasoned with.  If they can be, maybe Tvans elsewhere can be.  If not...then we may be looking at a Tvan independent/third party candidate, because these folks won't settle for a non-Tvan, like that Mormon.

The wild card in all this is Ron Paul.  He's not Tvan but he's not Romney, and he's got a core of very particular true believers.  If he wins Iowa, it upsets the media narratives, and the conventional wisdom is that he won't win anywhere else.  But this is not a conventional year.

Whoever the non-Romney winner in Iowa is, that person's one hope is that the Kochheads show up at the victory party with a big, big, big check.  Which oh yeah could happen.  Then what's the matter with Iowa matters.  

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