santa cruz wharf

03 January 2008

Thursday Thirteen ~ Iowa

Thirteen Things about the Iowa Caucus that are on my mind.
(with all love and respect for Mel…)

1. Democrats and Republicans have a total of 15 candidates in play…not including the other party candidates…(Giuliani, Huckabee, Hunter, McCain, Paul, Romney, Thompson, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson) Why does Iowa get to be the ones to narrow it down?

2. In 1972 the McGovern Campaign aided by a series of articles in the New York Times engineered media and national voter attention on the arcane Iowa Caucus. While I am sure it brings an incredible amount of revenue to the state….it seems to be more of a media circus than an accurate barometer of who the voters support...yet may determine who proceeds.

3. The election of the President of the United States of America is made by the Electoral College. There are 538 electors. Iowa has SEVEN (by the way…California has 55) The number of electors are determined by number of senators (2 per state) plus the number of representatives (435 divided by percentage of population) plus three for the District of Columbia.

4. Iowa keeps moving their Caucus up earlier on the calendar…not sure this seems right somehow.
2004 - January 19
2000 – January 24
1996 – February 12
1992 – February 10
1988 – February 8
1984 – February 20

On Tuesday, 05 February 2008 there will be “primary” or “caucus” elections in 24 states. This represents almost 50% of the electoral votes.

5. Iowa has 2.3 million eligible voters. The Iowa Caucus is held by Precinct. There are 1,781 Precincts in Iowa. The results go on to both parties’ County Conventions…although by a completely different set of procedures. (see below) They have 99 counties in Iowa. California has 58 counties. (Why does Iowa have so many counties?)

6. The Democrats count the number of people actually standing in the area of a room (in a church, school or library) which is designated for a specific candidate. For half an hour you get to try and convince your neighbor (friend or family member) to come stand with you. Then they count who is standing where.

7. The Democrats then determine which of the eight candidates are “viable.” If your candidate did not reach the “viability threshold” of 15% you gotta go find someplace else to stand. This is referred to as “persuasion time.” Those who were standing for candidates who are now not viable….either go stand with their “second choice” candidate….or may abstain. (and yes…everyone is trying to get you to stand with them…it’s kinda like “Red Rover Red Rover” with arm twisting and smokey backroom dealing…)

8. This Democratic head count dictates the delegates’ vote at yet ANOTHER Caucus, then the County Convention, the District Convention and the State Convention. Although they can switch their vote…apparently they do not. This may have something to do with the media declaring the winning Iowa Democratic candidate tonight.

9. The Republicans get to set down and listen to a bit of campaigning from each candidate. They don’t really care…cause last August there was some sort of Straw Poll taken in Ames (which is the center of Iowa) …and that apparently is more important than the Caucus.

10. The Republicans get a blank piece of paper to write down their one choice. (does spelling count? If they just jot down Rudy or Mitt…is that a valid vote? What if their penmanship sucks…and Huckabee look like Hunter?) Not that it matters cause the real Republican decision is made at the Republican State Convention (following District and County Conventions) and is NOT determined at the Caucus.

11. Ties are resolved by tossing a coin…or by drawing a name from a hat. Probably some hat with an e-phn buckeye on it. If you are only 17…but will be 18 by the election date…you get to participate in the Caucus. There is no absentee voting in the Iowa Caucus. If you are too ill to get there…need to work…or military stationed outside of the state…you are SOL.

12. If this does not make you sick at heart it should….
The candidates have spent over $40 million in political television ads. Not including travel…and other related expenses. CNN says that works out roughly to about $17 per voter, between $150 and $200 per expected caucus-goer. (Don’t get me started on the difference between those who are voters and those who actually participate in the Caucus…cause I will go ballistic) Yep…$40 million dollars on television advertising which you KNOW everyone in Iowa has been sick of for weeks now. Do you think ANYone learned ANYthing new about any of the candidates? (my previous rant on candidate spending and voter turnout
can be found here)

13. To quote Josiah Bartlett (who is the candidate of choice for Desert Songbird):

You know we forget sometimes…
in all the talk about democracy
We forget it is NOT a democracy…
It’s a Republic.

People don’t make the decisions.
They choose the people who make the decisions.

Could they do a better job choosing?
Yea….but when you consider the alternatives…


Desert Songbird said...

Wow. To see my name in conjunction with a political discussion is just........



Schmoop said...

I think you are just upset that it appears that this country doesn't revolve around California. Submit to the Power of Corn-Fed Politics. Cheers!!

Lori said...

I dont do politics. I think they all lie to get a vote. Im not really happy with our current president because he wont bring our troops home. Although, I didnt vote for him last time, but i was guilty the time before. I just hope, whomever gets elected, pulls this country out of this mess that its in. I have a son in the military that is set to go to Iraq next year. All I want is for him to stay home. Happy TT and thanks for stopping by:)

Lee Ann aka Dixie said...

Caucus, maucus... I really don't understand it.

I do, however, believe in exercising my right to vote. This time I haven't a clue as to how I'll vote.

Oswegan said...

Ha! All great questions, none of which I can answer.

At least not in a way that would satisfy a republican.


Jeff B said...

There are certain times in the history of our country where I think the coin flip method was used in the general election.

Bag 'em all. I'm voting for Matt-Man, That'll teach 'em!

Travis Cody said...

The thing that has often bothered me about living on the west coast is that the national media was usually telling me who my President was before I'd even had a chance to cast my vote.

Very discouraging.

RW said...

That stuffs all crazy lol!

Mel said...

Submit to the Power of Corn-Fed Politics? LOL

I LIKE the way that man thinks!
That, in and of itself, oughta scare the by-jeepers outta ya.

Caucus OVER....thankgoodness.
NOT a parking spot in the darn lot, which (might I add..) I found very inconvenient!

Umm...does anyone know who won? LOL

storyteller said...

As a happily retired educator well versed in the ways of the constitution ... political and governmental decision-making ... (wondering if "naturalized citizens" don't know more than those born here about such things), I appreciated your thoughtful post and timely, well-phrased questions. Listening to repeated chatter about Brittany Spears this morning and wondering why it's "news" ... I worry about the future of our nation, but being the eternal optimist I hope for better in 2008.
Hugs and blessings,

Marilyn said...

I think I'll go be sick now.

I knew a little of this, but the arbitraryness of it all seems even worse now. Why did they waste all that time making me memorize the presidents' names and not teach me about caucuses and such.

katherine. said...

DS: you inspire me!

Mateo: one follows California...sure.... (Power-of-Corn-Fed-BS is more like it...)

Lori: its gonna be a while I am afraid...

Dixie: atta girl...VOTE

Oswegan: I don't always follow republican lines...but you gotta admit the Iowa thing is messed up.

Jeff: Matt has already promised me any position I want in his cabinet...

Travis: that is why I started voting before work rather than after!!

Rodger: what do they do in Idaho?

Mel: I'd so like to hear it from your viewpoint...I can't imagine you standing there...waiting to be counted....laughing....

story teller: yep. I couldn't believe the Spears chatter this morning either...but then the storm hit...

Marilyn: I think they USE to teach a civics class...but no more...sigh...

DocMtCat said...

Fantastic political commentary !!

I must read more.

-Shane (doc)

RW said...

They tapp it out in the bathroom lol!