Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Democrats Sowing Confusion in Iowa

If you look carefully at the Hawkeye State, you can find polls showing John Edwards is in the lead (b) Barack Obama is ahead (c) Hillary Clinton and Obama are tied or (d) after the "viability rule" excludes candidates with less than 15 percent of the vote, who knows?

Iowans have a reputation for being contrary, but this year they have raised sowing confusion to an art form. Yesterday, three of their journalists wrote a New York Times OpEd, saying "if a poll does manage to precisely forecast the results of the Jan. 3 caucuses, that is probably more coincidence than polling accuracy" because of the arcane, secretive way that Democrats report results of their caucuses:

"Under the formulas used to apportion delegates, it is possible that the candidate with the highest percentage of delegate equivalents--that is, the headline “winner”--did not really lead in the “popular vote” at the caucuses. Further, it is possible that a second or third-tier candidate could garner a surprising 10 percent or 12 percent of the popular vote statewide and get zero delegates. (That’s because to be in the running for a delegate a candidate must have support from at least 15 percent of the people at a precinct caucus.) He or she may have done two or three times as well as expected among Iowa’s Democratic voters and get no recognition for it."

Is that clear? For months now, we have been hanging on every word from voters in the Tall Corn State as they ogle butter sculptures, eat fried stuff on a stick and respond to the presence of Oprah, Bill Clinton and Magic Johnson.

But do we get any clear answers from them? Not in your Field of Dreams. Maybe Meredith Willson had it right in the "Music Man" when he had them singing “And we're so by God stubborn/We can stand touchin' noses/For a week at a time/And never see eye-to-eye.”


jfreeland said...

When you look closely at this process and consider how much influence it has on the way the U.S. chooses its government, it's a little unsettling.

GiromiDe said...

Yes, it's unsettling. This is machine politics at work. I'm willing to live with a little-r republican government, but I'm not willing to live with a little-r republican primary process.