Thursday, January 03, 2008

Five Truths about Iowa, Obama, Romney et al that you won’t read anywhere else.

1. Most likely, tonight’s caucus outcome, by itself, will not dramatically affect the status of the top tier candidates. That is, on the Democratic Side, the spread between first and second or second and third will be unlikely to exceed four points, meaning that the third place finisher will trail the first place finisher by eight points. If Barack or Hillary finish in third, eight points behind Edwards in first, their seventy million dollars, or so, on hand, and their organization, carry them through February 5, and until then, anyone can win. If Edwards finishes in first or third, he continues thru February 5, but in either case, he doesn’t have sufficient money or organization to have a prayer of winning the nomination. Yes, it is true that if Obama wins tonight and in New Hampshire, then his position is enhanced going into South Carolina. But, by no means would even the double victory dramatically affect the final outcome. And, if Hillary wins a double victory, Barack still has a good shot at coming back. By the way, Obama beats Edwards by two points tonight, and Hillary will trail Edwards by four points.
2. Similarly, tonight’s Iowa caucus outcome, by itself, will not dramatically affect the status of the top tier candidates on the Republican side. That is, either Romney or Huckabee wins, and McCain comes in third. If Romney wins, that of course makes things better for him than a second, but even if he follows with a New Hampshire win, Giuliani can still turns things around, starting in Florida, and even McCain can come back, starting somewhere along the way. Thompson is toast, but we know that now (No drive, no energy, no speaking ability—it is not enough to say, “I am from the south.”). If Huckabee wins tonight, the press will make a fuss about it, but he doesn’t have the organization to be a credible force thru Feb. 5. If he loses, the argument is even more so, but he will stay around for a few more primaries, so again, Iowa does not matter for Huckabee. By the way, Romney beats Huckabee by four points tonight and McCain, with a surge of his own, ends up trailing Huckabee only by ten points tonight. Not bad for a guy who essentially wrote off Iowa.
3. Not withstanding all the pandering in the last year by the media and the pols to Iowa, Iowa voters, on average, are no smarter than the typical American voter when it comes to politics. The Iowa voters are no better informed, on average, than the typical American voter, when it comes to picking a Presidential candidate. You don’t have to spend time in Iowa to learn this. Just watch C-Span and their coverage of questions to the presidential candidates by the Iowa rally attendees, focus groups with likely voters, interviews with potential voters, etc. You can lead an Iowan to a presidential candidate, but you can’t make the Iowan think, speak or do anything out of the ordinary.
4. Tonight’s caucuses will not winnow anybody out of the race. On the Democratic side, Dodd, Biden and Kucinich will probably be too embarrassed, by their ridiculously low vote tallies to continue, but those numbers were expected from the start. Richardson may get enough votes to be willing to continue, but that is all about a forum to speak and practice for 2008 or 2012. It is hard to know if Gravel is still in the race, but effectively he is out--even before tonight. On the Republican side, Duncan Hunter will be gone after New Hampshire, but we knew that all along. Ron Paul will carry the Libertarian Flag through all the primaries—even though he claims to be running as a Republican. Alan Keyes will do something-anything to stay in- through the rest of the race so long as one person pays attention to him.
5. The most incompetent entities in the country to sponsor a debate would be the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public TV. Think about it, put on a debate and announce beforehand to the Republicans that no questions will be asked about the Iraq War and then make no such announcement to the Democrats. Don’t invite Gravel and Kucinich to the Democratic Debate but invite Alan Keyes to the Republican Debate. The sponsors might just as well have held up a banner at the start of each debate that read: “The debate sponsors are stupid and biased—and proud of it.”
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Richardson, Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox and many other pols at