Select Page

HORIST: Time to retire Iowa as the lead-off hitter

HORIST: Time to retire Iowa as the lead-off hitter

I recently penned an article entitled “The Unimportance of Iowa.”  This year, it went from unimportant to unreliable.

The Iowa caucus-style primary has been overrated and an irrelevant tradition in American politics for generations.  Like the circus, it comes to our political town every couple of years with great pomp, publicity and anticipation.  And like the circus, it puts on a great show of middle Americanism.  However, it is just entertainment that quickly fades in the dust and dulcet tones of the departing calliope.

This year was more notable than most.  Not because of the political outcomes and the Whirling Dervish spins of the performing candidates – but because disaster struck the Big Top.  The tent collapsed before any of the performers could take their bows.

It would have been time to send in the clowns, but as the song revealed, “They’re already here.”  In fact, they appear to have been the organizers of this year’s first-of-the-season performances.

The “why” and “how” that the calibrating system so badly malfunctioned will require a longer analysis.  What we do know is that the final results, which were to be released in the late hours of Monday evening, were not revealed until the next day – running smack into the State of the Union Speech and the vote to acquit President Trump of all charges in the Articles of Impeachment.

In the meantime, the clowns dressed up as presidential candidates did their job.  They came before the American audience with campaign-style speeches – and even victory speeches – to divert attention away from the lack of information.

The long wait taxed the skills of those news networks renowned for their ability to drone on endlessly without any new news to report.  Senator Amy Klobuchar was the first to see and seize that opportunity to appear before the cameras.  She gave a long victory-like campaign speech – and her gambit worked.  She got full coverage of her entire speech on all three of the major cable news stations that were desperate for something … anything … to report.

It appeared that former Vice President Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg were late to the party – failing to recognize the opportunity that all that dead airtime offered.  They belatedly returned to center ring, but only for divided attention from the networks.

In fact, Biden and Warren tripped over each other by taking to the stage at the same time – forcing FOX NEWS to  put them on split-screen with the audio randomly jumping back and forth – turning their remark into disconnected gibberish.  The only things missing were the over-sized shoes and the red bulbous noses.

The technology breakdown that ground the process to a halt only masked the more important issue.  Had all the glitches not occurred, the Iowa caucuses would still have been an exercise in absurdity. Whether intentional or not – and a case can be made on both sides – the Iowa caucuses were designed to obfuscate political reality.

Remember the rules.  You gather in a corner with your fellow Iowans based on your candidate preference.  You need to have more than 15 percent of the total number of caucusers to make it to the second round.  BUT, if you are just short of the 15 percent threshold, you can go to others in that category and invite, beg or bribe them to join your caucus to get you over the 15 percent,

When the vote is finally taken, those whose candidates passed the 15 percent can go home.  They are locked in.  However, those who failed to achieve 15 percent can be solicited by the successful caucuses – unless they have already gone home and there is no one to do the soliciting.

After that bit of horse trading, another vote is taken to see who of the remaining candidates has the most  support.  That number is then calculated into the distribution of delegates.

Under the Iowa system, you can win the first round, lose the second to a declared official winner, but wind up with your share of delegates. Generally, it results in a few candidates dividing up the already small number (41 out of 4765) delegates to the National Convention.

A big difference this year is that the smart folks at the Democratic National Committee insisted that the results of the first round be made public.  That was not done in the past.  That did nothing except to expose the underlying stupidity of the entire Iowa caucus system to the general public.

In 2016, it has been widely believed that Sanders had actually beat Hillary Clinton in the first round, but she collected all the stop-Sanders-at-any-cost dropouts to be declared the overall winner.

If you think screwing up the first in the nation primary was new this year, you need to recall when Governor George Romney was declared the winner in the 2012 Iowa primary only to have the trophy transferred to Senator Rick Santorum much later – after early primaries in other states were already over.

On a related subject, we should not forget that the Des Moines Register had to shut down its highly vaunted last-minute statewide poll because they forgot to include Buttigieg among the candidates.  They were already in the midst of calling caucusers when a Buttigieg supporter called the error to the newspaper’s attention.

In short, there was no credible advance information and no timely subsequent information.  It is time for Iowa to be shuffled to the middle of the deck of primaries and to convert to an election system.  Outside of providing great theater, the Iowa system is not a great service to the process.

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.


  1. Linde Barrera

    Thank you for this excellent artIcle. Very informative and thought provoking.

  2. Connie

    The Iowa caucus was excellent at one thing though. They proved beyond a Shadow of a doubt that voter fraud, corruption, and incompetence are real. We should be wary of ALL elections.

  3. Bob Taylor

    Thought Warren, Biden, Sanders and the rest of the clowns were already spewing gibberish??

    Iowa was great that it pointed out one undeniable fact that needs to be hammered home…. The lying cheating stealing liberal socialist demoncRATS had intended to STEAL the Iowa primary results and warp those esults for their own purposes! Voters and the Republican paty need to keep this in mind as the election rapidly draws closer and take EXTREME measures if necessary to reign the RATS in!!

    Starting with the wicked witch of the west Pelosi! Investigate and IMPEACH her directly to prison where she belongs even though she has unknowingly done the nation a great service by exposing the foul corrupt state of the Democrat Party!