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HORIST: The unimportance of Iowa

HORIST: The unimportance of Iowa

In terms of presidential nominations, Iowa has only one relevancy.  It is the first contest in the 11-month primary season.  That’s it.   Without being the first in the union, Iowa would be about as important as the North Dakota convention, which takes place on March 27.

First and foremost, Iowa is not a state that reflects the nation. As a largely older white voter state, it lacks the diversity of America – more so today than in the past.  In that regard, it is not a bellwether state.  It gives us no valuable insight into future trends.  It is an outlier.

It is not a battleground state.  While it can swing left or right – Democrat or Republican – it only has six electoral votes – only a smidgeon more than two percent of the 270 electoral votes. Were it not the first in the nation, it is unlikely that so many candidates would be visiting Des Moines or Dubuque.

It is also a caucus state – meaning that the winner is not selected by voters, but by a small more highly motivated group within the greater electorate.  They often arrive in busloads – even from other states.  Perhaps that is the reason why Iowa rarely picks or launches the eventual winners.

Because it is the first contest in the presidential campaign season, it enjoys a disproportionate level of lead-up media attention.  Weeks – and even months – before the Iowa caucuses the press focuses on Iowa.  In fact, the countdown to the primaries is often introduced with the political cliché “only (blank) days until the Iowa primary …”  The remainder of the states – even the largest – usually garner myopic media attention only within days of the vote.

Because Iowa is first, it gets visits from the greatest number of contenders – long before the winnowing process reduces the ranks.  This, naturally, is one of the factors that brings disproportionate media attention.

The unimportance of the Iowa caucuses is reflected in the post-primary attention it receives – virtually none.  What happened in Iowa is rarely entered into the analytical output of the candidates, pundits and reporters as the primary season moves on.  What happened in Iowa stays in Iowa.

To understand the real importance of Iowa, imagine if Iowa shared the first-in-the-union primary with California.  How much attention would be paid to the Hawkeye State?  To get an idea, consider how much attention will be given to American Samoa’s six delegates when it is in the mix with California’s 415 delegates on Super Tuesday, March 3rd.

Iowa is a great state with wonderful people – a real live American Gothic.  They have wonderful traditions, like grilled pork chop flipping.  But when it comes to relevancy in the selection of presidential nominees, its fame is more hype than reality.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.



    One nice thing about Iowa is that is the home of Casey’s gas station and pizza.

    • Larry Horist

      so you go to Casey’s for pizza and get gas??

  2. Susan c McCall

    Good morning to you Larry.
    I was born and raised in Iowa until 1975 when I took a Greyhound bus to Denver at the ripe ole age of 18. I was always proud to be from Iowa until I knew what politics were. Ever since they allowed same-sex marriage, I have noticed the changes. I don’t know Iowa anymore and rarely get back there to see family because many have passed. Strong religious and moral upbringing is about the only good things I can say about Iowa. I have tried to teach my kids but it’s a new world, and a depressing one at that.

    • gabe

      You need a thumbs up icon.

  3. Robert Cottrell

    I was born and raised in Iowa and proud of it. My folks on vacation would take their children to all the Western states to see our beautiful country. Always knew when we were back in Iowa being everything was green. I’ve found out in life that it’s the people in Iowa that makes it special very friendly and hard working and your not afraid to go anyplace in Iowa. If you left Iowa at a younger age you picked up some bad habits that you didn’t learn in Iowa. People in Iowa believe we are all Americans and will stand up for it. I think some of those 18 year old people came back with their liberal thinking which pollutes true Iowans. Why the left Calif. is beyond me.