It’s been said before, but Truthdig‘s Bill Boyarsky sums the argument up nicely in his Alternet post “Iowa Caucuses: Not the Battle of the Century.” Noting the guestimate of a worker in Dubuque’s Georgia Pacific plant that about 10 percent of the 125 union members at the plant are expected to attend the caucuses, Boyarsky adds:
That is in line with a Des Moines Register poll estimate of 12 percent Republican and 10 percent Democrat attendance at caucuses around the state. That figure is substantially above the numbers for past caucuses reported by Pollster.com: Just 5.5 percent for Democrats in 2004 and 3.9 percent for Republicans in 2000. That is a tiny percentage of the 57,204 people living in Dubuque and the 2,944,062 residing in Iowa. Such a low level of involvement makes me wonder about news accounts that portray this as the battle of the century.
Boyarsky calls the Iowa caucuses “a travesty of the American political system” and describes the whole exercise as “undemocratic, unfair, unrepresentative and overly complicated.” While Boyarsky is stone cold right about the caucuses being unrepresentative of the Iowa electorate as a whole, perhaps the real travesty is the “news accounts” he cites — the MSM media, and even some blogosphere writers hype the Iowa caucuses as the ‘make or break’ event for any number of presidential campaigns. Worse, some of the candidates themselves have affirmed this view.
The good people of Iowa can’t be blamed for enjoying all of the media attention and commerce the caucuses bring — any other state would do the same, given the opportunity. In terms of political strategy, it is true that no candidate who has finished worse than third in Iowa has won the Party’s nomination, as noted in my 12/23 post below. However, the Democratic field is unusually strong this year, and that alone should be a good enough argument for hanging in there for a few more days until New Hampshire, a state whose citizens enjoy confounding pollsters, has its say.