Here come the Iowa Caucuses.
Curious minds ask, will they really matter?
Not all that much based on the past 20+ years.
Since 1972, Iowa has been holding some version of the caucuses. People must actually show up at neighborhood locations and declare their support for the primary candidates. Only Iowans may participate. The results determine to whom Iowa’s forty delegates go.
In the next couple of weeks, a massive effort will be underway to get supporters to turn out to the gatherings held on January 15th. During this same period, hours of news commentary will interpret the meaning of it all. They’ll ask if Donald Trump is going to win by a substantial enough margin or not. In Iowa, a win could be a loss for the front runner. People will be ready to write-off Ron DeSantis if he can’t come in second. And, any respectable finish for Nikki Haley can only suggest new momentum.
There is just one little problem.
If the Iowa caucuses for Republican candidates counted all that much, then we would be reading about President Mike Huckabee. He won in 2008. Or, how about President Rick Santorum, now a frequent cable news commentator? He won the Iowa caucuses in 2012. And, then we have the administration of President Ted Cruz who won in Iowa in 2016.
Of course, none of them capitalized on their Iowa victories to go on to win the presidency.
However, political careers do go on after Iowa. Former President George H.W. Bush won the Iowa caucus in 1980 before withdrawing from the presidential campaign. He became President Reagan’s Vice President and went on to win the presidency in 1988. But, guess what. That year in Iowa he finished behind Bob Dole and Pat Robertson. I was there and it was painful.
So, as political entertainment, Iowa is right up there as we start the 2024 election year. As a predictor of how things will end, it’s not all that reliable.
Stay tuned for what happens when voters cast ballots in New Hampshire on January 23rd and in the South Carolina on February 24th. Until then, I’m sure Al From and I will have a thing or two to say each Thursday afternoon. I mean, what else is there to talk about?
Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore.