The Iowa Squeaker

20110104_IOWA-slide-C37Z-hpLargeSo, Romney wins the Iowa Caucus by 8 stupid votes. What did we learn last night? 

Romney isn't doing well with evangelical Christians. 

Romney still hasn't convinced Republican voters that he's The Man. 

Rick Santorum looks younger than his son. 

Ron Paul is popular with college voters, specifically with the type of guy who would show up for my Political Theory 101 class who thought he knew all about John Locke from watching Glenn Beck. 

Perry wasted everyone's time and money. 

Santorum is popular with evangelical Christians. 

With the lack of energy behind any one of these candidates, Obama is going to stroll though the next election. 

Why the fuck is Matt Lauer asking Donald Trump what he thinks about these candidates? 

All those debates helped nobody. 

A bunch of Iowa farmers have too much power in this country. Please stop it. 


OK, I'm fascinated about why Republicans don't like Romney. I don't understand why evangelical Christians don't like Mormons. He's also losing votes with poorer Republicans. The poorer Republicans are going for Ron Paul, who wants to totally dismantle government programs that the poor need the most. Is it because they think that Paul is more conservative on social issues than Romney? I don't think so. I think the social issue voters are going with Santorum. Romney's personality is killing him. He came off as humorless and slightly mean in the debates. The flip flopping charge has stuck to him, too. 

I confess that my interest in these primaries have been selfish. I've been hoping that the most crazy candidate will win, so that Obama will have an easy job in the election and because crazy is entertaining. I suppose that I should hope that the best candidate will win, because that's good democracy. But I'm shallow. 

I think that the underlying story in these primaries is really about angry voters. Lots of people, both Republicans and Democrats, are pissed off about the economic situation. Super pissed off. Who is going to tap into that? 


30 thoughts on “The Iowa Squeaker

  1. There were about 2,000 people in the caucus I participated in (course it was the Democratic caucus, not the Republican), but still – not a farmer among us. . . Just sayin’

  2. I think the social issue voters are going with Santorum. Romney’s personality is killing him.
    I think you are right about that and I would not have guessed that as recently as yesterday. (About Santorum. Romney’s personality isn’t new.) I wasn’t paying attention and don’t know how Santorum got to be the choice for social conservates, but he did. I don’t see how Perry survives. Bachmann is apparently quitting. I’ve never felt that Gingrich could last.
    And I think Paul is getting the protest vote, not support for his policies. If you want to tell the establishment to drop dead, voting for Paul is the most concrete thing you can do without spending money.

  3. I didn’t mean to make an Iowa slur. I am just irked by the fact that small communities in Iowa and NH have such a large say in our future candidates.

  4. Romney will be the nominee.
    The poorer Republicans are going for Ron Paul, who wants to totally dismantle government programs that the poor need the most.
    Jim Geraghty, at National Review, points out that a large share of Ron Paul voters aren’t necessarily Republican:
    According to the entrance polls, 38 percent of caucus-goers had never voted in a GOP caucus before; of those, by far the largest share, 37 percent, voted for Ron Paul. Among the registered so-called independents who took part in the caucus, 48 percent voted for Ron Paul, way ahead of anyone else. Next highest was Romney with 16 percent. (
    The debates, and the press attention, helped (or will help) to end the campaigns of Bachman, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich. (Huntsman who?)
    I guess the Iowa evangelicals who care enough about politics to participate in the caucuses are predisposed to vote for a homeschooling Catholic who sponsored an amendment promoting intelligent design: Who knows? Santorum may be able to carry Kansas.

  5. I wasn’t paying attention and don’t know how Santorum got to be the choice for social conservates, but he did.
    Santorum got the “Iowa Family Policy Center” endorsement, and all of the social Conservatives jumped.
    “Of the 47% of caucus-goers identifying themselves as “very conservative,” Romney got just 14% of that vote (compared with Santorum’s 35%). Romney won another 14% from the nearly six in 10 who are evangelical Christians (versus Santorum’s 32%).”
    Personally, the concept of the person who self-identifies as “Very Conservative” in America is very scary. I think if I were polled, I would have to define myself as “Very Liberal” on the axis of American politics.
    But that says more about American politics than about me. If I lived in Europe, I’d probably be a swing voter.

  6. Getting that close while spending less than anybody but Bachmann means Santorum won. The figures I’ve seen show he spent less than 5% of what Romney had on media. I can’t find out about the other spending.
    (I still think Romney is going to win the nomination.)

  7. Santorum got the “Iowa Family Policy Center” endorsement, and all of the social Conservatives jumped.
    I’m assuming this is just a joke. I never heard of them and wikipedia says they never endorsed as a group. The head went for Santorum, but the organization said Gingrich, Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry were all fine.

  8. I can’t see how Santorum gets through NH with momentum. I see Romney running a successful ‘safe pair of hands’ candidacy. Obama ran one of those, and now quite a lot of people in the middle don’t see his hands as safe at all. So who wins will be mostly about how many people are feeling really disaffected by Obama, and whether Romney can continue to create the impression of bland competence. If I have a choice in the general between Romney and Obama, likely I will vote for Romney, without a great deal of enthusiasm.

  9. Okay. So the endorsement was from the head of the group, not the group itself. It happened, and Santorum’s poll numbers skyrocketed.
    You may not remember the group specifically, but for a few weeks in July there was a big deal about who was and was not signing their “Marriage Vow.” Santorum and some others signed it.

  10. I’m skeptical about our hostess’s view that the lack of the enthusiasm for the Republican candidate will lead to an Obama victory. For me, the best analogy is 1992. I don’t recall transcendent enthusiasm for “slick Willie,” just a sagging economy, a sour national mood, and an election that was basically a referendum on the incumbent. I would expect the same this year, so I continue to predict that Romney will be taking office in 2013.

  11. Obama is a much better campaigner than GHWB. Romney is much worse than Clinton and, actually, there was a great deal of enthusiams for Clinton among the younger Democrats. The current economy is bad, but it isn’t actually getting worse as it was in 1992. Also, as near as I can tell the Republicans in Congress are doing their best to see how much cover they can provide for Obama. A strong Republican candidate would win easily but there is (and was) no obvious way for the Republicans to get one.

  12. “I don’t understand why evangelical Christians don’t like Mormons.”
    I think I can take this one. I grew up southern Baptist, and to them, Mormonism is a cult. To be a Mormon is to follow a false prophet. You might as well ask them to vote for a Scientologist.
    My favorite part of the CNN coverage last night was James Carville: “Republicans just don’t want to vote for Mitt Romney. It’s like trying to give a dog a pill. That dog’s going to take that pill, and Romney’s going to be the nominee.”

  13. And all the Obama campaign has to do is show the clip of Romney offering to bet Rick Perry $10000… over and over and over again, and it’s curtains for Romney.

  14. Not to mention, Ross Perot ran in 1992, which siphoned off a lot of the Ron Paul-type voters of the day who might have otherwise voted for GWHB. I would say that Obama is still like Clinton, politically uninspiring but charismatic. Romney is like Bush I, a politician’s politician who is better than a lot of alternatives but uninspiring to the base. Interestingly, what I could see happen is Ron Paul run as a third party candidate, which would probably seal the election for Obama. In that case, the angry racist male libertarian vote would be siphoned away from the Republican party, and then we’d be left with two tepid, centrist candidates, both of whom hardcore culturally rightist Republicans would be unwilling to vote for. Romney might take the David Brooks vote, but Obama would still win because he’d pick up some moderates, the center-left and the left still not too discouraged to vote for Obama.

  15. The Ronulans or Paulbots (pick your term) are unusual critters. They are very well organized and are able to create the impression of much more numerical power than they actually possess. So the Iowa caucuses are really tailor-made for their techniques. (Back in the day, they used to show up on internet forums in a way very similar to the eerie way Scientologists used to pop up whenever Scientology was mentioned.)
    I’ve seen Paulbots from all fringes of the political spectrum. As I like to say, crazy is eclectic and conspiracy theories are like potato chips–you can’t just have one. Ron Paul dances around 9-11 Trutherism and there are a lot of left-leaning people who love him. And note that his foreign policy ideas are actually much more appealing to the left than to the right, just as his domestic policy is much more appealing to the right than to the left.
    Ace of Spades has had some really funny posts on Ron Paul. I know AoS isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s a pretty good taxidermy job of a Paulbot here:
    As Ace says, “Ron Paul’s greatest liability is Ron Paul, but his second greatest liability are his hippie-Nazi cultists. Not all of his supporters are hippie Nazis, but the aggressive ones are.”
    Not to lesson anybody’s personal responsibility, but I think smoking a lot of dope has something to do with all the free-floating paranoia that is so prevalent among Ron Paul supporters.

  16. Another thing–Ron Paul supporters are notorious for their ability to win almost any internet poll for him.
    Charles Johnson is not my favorite person, but he had a funny piece on the relationship between Paul supporters and internet polls.
    “During the last election, it became a running joke at LGF that Ron Paul’s odd supporters would spam and skew and vote repeatedly in every Internet poll they could find, trying to boost the Crazy Uncle’s apparent popularity.
    “This measure of popularity is completely bogus, of course, because it’s trivially easy to vote more than once in a silly non-scientific Internet poll; usually, all you have to do is clear your browser’s cookies and bam! you can vote as many times as you can stand clicking a button. And Paulians have a level of button-clicking persistence that dwarfs the capabilities of sane people.”

  17. Mitt Romney reminds me of the cafeteria that my exchange group ate at in St. Petersburg, Russia. We Americans eventually learned that it was crucial to remove unappetizing food items when they appeared at dinner, because otherwise they would continue appearing until we ate them. Mitt Romney is like those unappetizing food items–he’s going to appear at every election until we finally put him on the ballot. (See also John McCain.)

  18. I find it curious when religious people have problems with other religious people’s faith. To me, Mormonism is the same as Christianity, Scientology or being a Wiccan. Religion takes a particular suspension of logic, so it’s easy to call another’s beliefs crazy. But why don’t most people recognize that their own beliefs are “crazy” on the surface. Why is Tom Cruise any nuttier for believing that Xenu or whoever is trying take over the planet than I am when my church believes in a virgin birth? Why is Romney anymore nutty for believing he might one day have a planet than the Catholics are believing Jesus ascended into heaven? It’s just not that different, and really hypocritical.
    Mormons believe in the same tenants that most Christians do, to not like him because essentially he isn’t a traditional protestant is just sad. If you agree with all his other policies and ideas, you should vote for him.

  19. Lisa — You are clearly unaware of the secret proviso in the First Amendment (it’s written on the back) that — in exchange for freedom of religion — contracted with all relevant deities to stop these ridiculously unscientific “miracle” things henceforth, so we can all go ahead with just living our lives without having to worry that our water will turn into wine, or bushes will burn without being consumed.
    With that in mind, it is clear that any religion whose origin depend upon founding miracles or revelations that occurred after 1789 (Mormonism, Scientology) are obviously bogus, while those that date back to earlier times are all obviously accurate, even if they directly contradict each other. (This also explains why the gods are always on America’s side.)

  20. “I find it curious when religious people have problems with other religious people’s faith.”
    And yet Glenn Beck doesn’t seem to run into that sort of problem.
    To me, Romney’s Mormonism is the least objectionable thing about him. Maybe Romney’s political problems have more to do with Romneycare and the fact that his political positions have been all over the map over the years. Also, Mormon or not, a Republican Mass. governor would find it difficult to successfully run for president.
    We don’t know what Mitt really is when nobody is looking. That’s not to say that I won’t vote for him (and he has some genuinely impressive accomplishments–if I had an Olympics to run, I’d call him first), but he looks like somebody who is going to turn into a faithful caretaker of the status quo, which is not what I am looking for. (Now that I think of it, he gives off a bit of a GHWB vibe.)
    “To me, Mormonism is the same as Christianity, Scientology or being a Wiccan.”
    Trust me, Scientology is on a whole different plane. As an experiment, I suggest calling up and expressing interest in 1) the first Mormon church you see in the phonebook 2) the first church you see in the phonebook 3) the closest branch of Scientology and 4) the first Wiccan group you find. Wait two weeks and then report back on your experiences. (This may not work anymore, but 15-20 years ago, the Scientologists’ behavior would have been radically different.)

  21. “To me, Mormonism is the same as Christianity, Scientology or being a Wiccan.”
    Ta paraphrase Saul Bellow, who is the Jonathan Edwards of the Wiccans? Or the Augustine of the Scientologists?

  22. Isn’t L. Ron Hubbard the Augustine of the Scientologists?
    And, do they have another name, you know, like we’re supposed to say the the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints — according to the style guide?
    I’m not sure whether to be excited that we’re discussing both politics and religion and the combination of them.
    Although Romney’s mormonism (and I think the LDS style guide says that’s OK, though it’s supposed ot be capitalized) doesn’t bother me any more than Bush’s evangelical background does, I can understand why an evangelical or a mormon (wrong, am I supposed to say latter day saint?) would feel differently. To me it’s not any more likely that a locket containing Mother Teresa’s picture emanated a beam of light that cured an abominable tumor than it is that golden plates were given to someone in New York state that contained the word of god. But I can see why people who believe one but not the other would come to different conclusions.

  23. You really don’t understand why evangelical Christians don’t like Mormons? Time to watch Monty Python’s Life of Brian again! (Your boys are old enough to enjoy it too, but make them watch Spartacus first, please). You didn’t spend long enough deep enough in the Trotskyist left. Read anything by the Sparticist League. (Apologies to Russell,and evangelical Christians, I have a lot of respect for Trotskyists, in fact, as I do for both Mormons (not a little influenced by Russell, and evangelical Christians, influenced by all sorts of people).

  24. I’m not done beating up on Ron Paul. Here’s what else I have against him:
    1. He’s been in Congress since the 1970s, and for all the libertarian talk, he might as well have stayed home. Congress would do basically the same stuff without his ever having set foot in Washington, DC. Even if you like his entire political program, he’s no good at implementing it or getting people to do stuff. (Compare and contrast with Paul Ryan’s much shorter but more effective career.) I suspect that if (by some miracle) Ron Paul became president, his domestic policy outcomes would be indistinguishable from a President Romney’s, simply because Ron Paul is so ineffectual. (Foreign policy is a different story, because we tend to give presidents a pretty free hand abroad.)
    2. He is 76 years old.
    3. He is 76 years old today and would be 77 years old when he took office. (You can’t say it too many times–Reagan left office at nearly 79 after 8 years as president, and lots of people thought he was senile.)
    4. He’s been lying like a rug about those newsletters.

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