It was easy to get caught up in the overzealous media hype surrounding the Iowa Caucus earlier in the month. The way every news organization portrays it, a person would think the caucus was a “sure-thing” indicator on who would be the eventual winner or the election, or at least the nomination.
After all, everyone knows about how President Bob Dole won in convincing fashion over Dick Gephardt in the 1988 election. Or when President Tom Harkin went on to beat Dole in the following election.
Never heard of those events? It’s because they never happened. Both Dole and Harkin were declared winners of each of their parties caucus in Iowa. In the end, neither of them went on to become the President of the United States, let alone receive the nomination for each of their parties.
Actually, Bob Dole did become the nomination eight years later in the 1996 caucus, the same year President Clinton beat him to be reelected.
The Iowa Caucus is at best a coin flip on deciding who each parties nomination will be, and a roll of the dice on who the next president. According to the “Caucus History Past Years’ Results” on http://caucuses.desmoinesregister.com/, from the 1972 caucus to the 2008 caucus, Iowans successfully picked the eventual Democratic nominee just six out of 10 times, with “uncommitted” being the top vote getter twice. Meanwhile, since 1976 to the 2008 caucus, Iowans correctly picked the eventual Republican nominee just six out of nine times, with three of them being the unopposed, sitting president.
The winner of the Iowa caucus from either side has gone on to become president just five out of 19 times. A person has better odds at a roulette table, literally.
Iowa’s six Electoral College votes don’t even make it a swing state. By comparison, Ohio has 18, three times as many electoral votes as Iowa. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, so Iowa is less than 3 percent of the amount of votes it takes to win an election. Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman was right not to waste effort and resources in the state.
The other reason why the numbers are all so scattered and a poor indicator on predicting the president is because of the people who make up Iowa. They are good people, but are a poor representation of the rest of the country.
According to the last census in 2010, Iowa is 91.3 percent white, compared to the country at 72.4 percent. Over half of all Iowans, 55 percent, identify themselves as Protestant and nearly 83 percent claim some form of Christianity.
The United States is far more diverse, 79 percent are some form of Christianity. A 4 percent change may not seem like much of a difference, but with the U.S. population over 300 million, it means an additional 9.3 million people that don’t identify as Christian, with very few of them calling Iowa home.
The hype surrounding the Iowa caucus is never deserved.
It is nothing more than a ceremonial first pitch to officially kick off the endless amount of political ads Americans will be bombarded with during the next 10 months. The state hardly ever drastically effects elections. While Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary made things interesting because presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has reeled off two straight wins, but in general, Iowa is not a strong predictor on who the nominee for either party will be, let alone the president.