All the hub bub surrounding the Iowa Caucus reminds me of little children on Christmas Eve. Lots of excitement, but little real meaning. Granted it is December, a traditionally slow news month. News organizations are falling all over themselves tracking Newt Gingrich’s ascendency to the top spot in the polls of republican candidates. So what! Who cares who wins!
Let me throw a few names at you.
- Mike Huckabee-2008 (R)
- John Kerry-2004 (D)
- Al Gore-2000 (D)
- Bob Dole-1996 (R)
- Tom Harkin-1992 (D)
- Dick Gephardt-1988 (D)
- Bob Dole-1988 (R)
- George H.W. Bush-1980 (R)
- Uncommitted-1976 (D)
- Uncommitted-1972 (D)
- Gerald Ford & Ronald Reagan-1976 (R)
None of these candidates went on the win the presidency in the year they were in this list. In fact, Mike Huckabee, Bob Dole (1988), and George H.W.Bush (1980) did not get the Republican Party’s nomination. For the Democrats, Tom Harkin and Dick Gephardt did not get their party’s nod. Then there is the issue of ‘Uncommitted’ beating Jimmy Carter 37%-28% in 1976. That sweep came after ‘Uncommitted’ just edged out Edmund Muskie in a virtual tie at 36%-36% in the 1972 caucus . The Democrats eventual nominee George McGovern was third with 23% of the vote.
So the Iowa Caucus is a show. Part media circus and part quadrennial tourist event filling radio and TV commercial schedules, hotels and restaurants. An estimated $51,593,849 was spent by candidates in 2008. This year’s prediction is for $17-million. In the political sense, the Iowa Caucus is not representative of the country as a whole. In an economic sense, it is a hell of a stimulus package. For Iowans that may be all it needs to be.