Will Iowa Decide the Democratic Nomination?

The caucuses were supposed to be less important this time. But they still might pick the winner.

Comments: 190

  1. I predict it comes down to Biden and Sanders trading early state victories (Iowa, New Hampshire, SC, Nevada) before running into a Super Tuesday Bloomberg hammer which knocks one of them out. Biden will continue to show his age and Sanders will be deemed to liberal to beat Trump. Bloomberg wins the nomination and beats Trump handily.

  2. @John From your lips to God's ears!!!

  3. @John That's scary. Democrats have to choose a Republican to be their candidate to win an election Wowza.

  4. @John Dream on!

  5. The fact is that the vast majority of Democrats support either Sanders or Warren, both reflecting a much more muscular progressive policies than Biden. We really haven't had a true progressive president since Roosevelt and the Democratic brand has become unclear. Who does the party really serve? Clinton and Obama entered the social world of the plutocratic class after leaving the presidency. Roosevelt is often termed the enemy of his class. Maybe it's time to return to the old brand. Incremental progressivism has steadily lost ground to the stronger currents of power of privilege for the past 50 years.

  6. @alan haigh Well said! With billion dollar corporations and their million dollar mouth pieces framing the message it will be an uphill battle for progressive candidates to win even in what should be the progressive party.

  7. In many ways LBJ was far more progressive than FDR. Civil rights and Medicare / Medicaid were huge achievement against all odds. That was when the Democratic Party was standing for values instead of rushing to the middle lane and appease reaganite republicans. And lost the working class as a result.

  8. Julian Castro is now supporting Elizabeth Warren for president. I wonder what kind of deal Warren offered Castro in exchange for his new found enthusiasm for her. Did Warren offer to make Castro her running mate if she's gets the Democratic nomination? How does a Warren--Castro ticket sound?

  9. I read that they became friends during the Obama administration when EW was advising congress on financial reform. They hit it off pretty much from the start. No journalist was surprised of that support. More interesting would be the support (or not) of Kamala and Booker. Logic suggest Kamala could support EW whilst Booker could support Biden.

  10. Sanders' grass roots strength and strength against climate change will propel him to victory in Iowa. We're going to see a similar type of momentum that Obama had except millennials will buoy Sanders.

  11. @James Siegel Climate change doesn't hit the top 10 concerns of Americans. But...like other single issue voters who only vote for the pro or anti abortion candidate..there are the true believers like yourself. But..they're only about 3% of the population.

  12. Have an national primary day, just as we have a national election day. If there is not a majority have a run-off of the top 2-3 candidates. Make it several months before the election - say in May - and be done with it. This focus on what a tiny state with maybe 1% of the voters, and that not particularly representative cross section of the nation, is crazy. Our horrifyingly bad primary process, in which person after person dropped out after splitting the votes in successive primaries, left us with a Presidential nominee in 2016 who won more votes than any other, but less than the competition as a whole. He won a tiny minority of voters in the primary, and a minority in the election. And his performance justifies those credentials. Iowa should have small influence as should New Hampshire. Have a primary and a run-off. And be done with it.

  13. @Cathy Then the only people who are going to be able to run are the billionaires who can afford to run in all 50 states at the same time. And you need to move on from this popular vote notion. Yes, Hillary won by 3 million votes in the popular vote, but she won California by 4 million votes. That means she lost the United States of America (sans California) by a million votes. And lord knows that if I were a Republican in California, I'd rather put in 8 hours of work than vote since my vote doesn't count anyway. That applies to about 3 million Republicans..many of them friends of mine who simply declare Californiastan to be the land they live and work..but do not vote.

  14. @Cathy This focus on what a tiny state with maybe 1% of the voters, and that not particularly representative cross section of the nation, is crazy. Yes it is. From a point of view from outside your country your whole voting system within your party system itself is crazy. I am sorry to say so. The idea that because of outcomes in the past everybody is expecting (and making it happen) the same in the future will happen is crazy. The idea that some small states should almost define the next candidate is crazy. And all the money involved is crazy. You don't have a real democracy left. You live in a fantasy world. Making history repeating itself over ad over again. Because 'you believe in it'. Not because it has to happen again. I.m.h.o. A selffulfilling prophecy you, as voters together, seem to deny. Taking the old path over and over again. Without searching for an other solution, it seems. Just taking it for granted. Why?

  15. @Cathy You seem to forget that a candidate needs 50% +1 delegates at the convention to win. If you hold a national primary and no candidate gets the 50%, guess what? The nomination gets settled at the convention with vote trading, back room deals, etc;. Not to candidates would exhaust their funding running a national primary race right before the general election. This would lead to one of two results. Either only billionaires would run (as mentioned in another comment) or the candidates would have to start their campaigns/fund raising a lot earlier; i.e. right after the presidential election. That would be fun, wouldn't it?

  16. I’m always amazed at the eagerness to accuse Iowa for having disproportionate influence. Consider other targets of your derision: - The press, for playing up the Iowa winner far beyond it’s true importance, giving momentum to some candidates and robbing from others, and - Subsequent primary states who wait to see who Iowa chooses and the press ordains, instead of making up their own minds.

  17. ... the Electoral College, which counts the 15-or so residents of Iowa as if they are 100k strong....

  18. I thought this was a national election! Whoops, guess I was wrong. Destroy the Electoral College! No single state, never mind voter, should have greater sway than any other voter in deciding the course of our nation. Until then, we will never be a nation of equals.

  19. @Erica Smythe We should be so lucky, an election where the most popular candidate actually gets elected.

  20. @Erica Smythe The purpose of a census is to count "people" not "citizens".

  21. @Erica Smythe "California" doesn't vote. Only people in California vote. And a person in California's vote should count just as much as a person anywhere else.

  22. Democrats allocate their delegates proportionately among candidates who get 15 percent or more of the vote in a given state or district. If the polls are accurate, you're looking at a four-way race through New Hampshire at least. Iowa will serve to knock practically everyone else out of the race. However the basic primary mechanics won't change. Sanders, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg. You can imagine a scenario where Warren or Buttigieg unexpectedly fails to hit 15 percent. However, probably not both. You'd end up with a three-way race with one side or the other consolidated. In that sense, Iowa could decide the primary again. The consolidated side would have a clear path to victory. Only the 3rd candidate dropping out would make the race competitive again. Bloomberg might make Iowa irrelevant though. Assuming at least a relatively split Iowan vote, Bloomberg challenges whichever establishment candidate that survives. Even if Biden manages to knock Buttigieg out of the race or vice versa, establishment Democrats still enter Super Tuesday with a split ticket. If both candidates survive, there will be a three-way split. Progressives really only need a consistent showing in both Iowa and New Hampshire. One candidate against the establishment. The path from there is relatively clear. At the moment, that candidate looks like Sanders. However, I'm beginning to sense hostility from the Warren camp. The progressives may end up cannibalizing themselves after all.

  23. Only about half of Iowa Caucus winners went on to win the nomination. Only about 16% won the White House. They only began in 1972 so there’s not exactly a huge sample size here either. Candidates place far too much emphasis on them.

  24. @Once From Rome In a 10k run, you're not allowed to skip the first 1k, even if you don't like it. It's part of the race and is..in the end..as important as the last 10 meters.

  25. @Erica Smythe Why would the winner of a corn dog eating contest have a better chance to win a marathon?

  26. There isn't going to be a clean "pick a winner" moment in this race. This is because with the rise of the far left, "the Democrats" now represent two very distinct and diametrically opposed worldviews that are really quite incompatible. If, after March 3 (Super Tuesday), Biden takes a commanding lead, he will not be assured of support from the left wing of the party going forward. The party will not unite behind him. He may slip in the polls and there may be a real contention of some kind at the Convention, either legal or by mass protest. The same is all true should Bernie take a commanding lead: a great many moderates won't vote for Bernie, ever.

  27. @MA I think even the vaguest possibility of another Trump mis-administration will force the most diverse of Democratic presidential-wannabes to join together in electing a Democrat (whoever he or she may be) to the presidency in 2020.

  28. @MA I wish you could avoid the qualifications “far left” and “moderate”, which implies that “moderates” are reasonable whilst “far left” are not. In Europe what you call “moderate” could be called extreme right wing (owing to their refusal to support universal health care or, in Joe’s case, the war on Iraq). What you call “far left” would be called social democrats or Christian Democrats (Germany) or simply the Liberal Party. Maybe the Liberal / Progressive wing versus the “Free Trade Fiscally Conservative Party” is a lore accurate description, without laying on top your prejudice.

  29. @R "I wish you could avoid the qualifications “far left” and “moderate”, which implies that “moderates” are reasonable whilst “far left” are not." I have two problems with this. #1, I'm not sure that "far left" has a negative connotation, but I know that "progressive" has a positive one that is unfair to those who are not on the far left. The term implies that people who agree are advocating for the advance of humanity, and those who do not, its hindrance. Obviously, if I thought conforming to far left ideology constituted real progress, I would support the far left. I also think the left stopped being liberal in any meaningful sense a long time ago. #2, It seems the far left doesn't like to be called anything, but they have to be called something. They don't like "woke", "radical", or "socialist". Liberal and progressive are both inappropriate for reasons cited above. How about just "far left"?

  30. In 1968, Iowa did not exist as it does today. Of course, RFK entered the contest late ( after there were already states decided) and RFK still look poised to win the nomination until his life was tragically cut short by an assassin. This year, Bloomberg will either win or "decide" who wins, probably Biden, when he releases his delegates at the convention. So, I don't care who wins Iowa. Except to remind those to the left in our party that you need to get used to the reality that only Biden or Bloomberg will be our nominee. That is a very good thing, since they are the only ones to carry the states needed to defeat Trump.

  31. Is there a state less important than Iowa in the general election in November. And we let Iowa pick the candidate. Why not have states that actually count have the initial contests. You can’t think of a worse way to pick the candidate 

  32. The short answer is that one can only hope not. State officials expect about 220,000 caucus attendees. They will be, if demographics and history are a guide, 91% white, 62% older than 55, and 57% male. They will distribute 6 electoral votes among candidates. Should this group, fine Americans all, dictate the candidate to a national party? I don't think so, and indeed find this whole notion a strong argument for a single nation-wide primary and direct election of the President. BTW, I'm a 70-something white male.

  33. The should not will is decide it should be why would it decide? One of the most least diverse states deciding for a diverse party is beyond belief. I think the Dems are doing everything they can do to give Trump another term.

  34. Many commentators lament the fact that the current democratic field of candidates is white. The color of one’s skin should not matter. I reject the notion that we need to have a specific number of minorities represented in every committee, in every cabinet in any candidate field, in any college administration. It depends on what they bring to the table.. Listen on. I will pick a minority on their agenda and merits not because of the color of their skin. If “quotas” become the unspoken rule of the Democratic Party, which it is, then I may start to question whether that person is truly representative ALL the American people instead of a small minority. Ditto the white candidate. That’s what Democrats do. As a staunch Democrat it bothers me that this issue is brought up all the time. Bringing it up conveys the wrong message to the American people. The implications are that white candidates will fail the minority communities. If there are minorities that capture the imagination of the Democratic Party then they should run and they should win. But not on the basis of the color of their skin. Soon this country will be a majority minority country. At that point, just by numbers there ought to be many more minority candidates to choose from. What? Then should there be “quotas” for white representation? No quotas. Merit only. Cory Booker and Deval Patrick fit the bill but couldn’t win.

  35. @SMS The problem is that even if 90% of voters pick solely based on merit, and the other 10% favor white candidates, and the margin of victory in these sorts of elections is likely to be much less than 10%, then white candidates will end up with a huge advantage and will win over more-qualified minorities. Merit selection works when everyone on the hiring committee is on board, but not when some hiring committee members are not. As there is no way to ensure that every single voter is unbiased, looking at outcomes makes sense here.

  36. @SMS I so agree with you. Actually the insistent pointing out of "white candidates" is racism. Let's go on merit! Just because a geographical region is not "diverse" doesn't mean it's inhabitants cannot think. I'm hoping for a Biden/Klobuchar ticket but will gladly back anyone to beat Trump.

  37. @Farmer Im curious.What actually happens inside a caucus? Are people persuaded to change their vote because they see their candidate of choice does not have enough voters to meet the 15percent threshold? We are placing a lot of emphasis on something that does not use secret ballots.

  38. While some of the analysis is fine, most of the scenarios are extremely unlikely. I really wish more time was spent explaining the likelihood of specific outcomes.

  39. IA Dems tend to be far to the left of most Dems (just like IA Reps - in the past at least- tended to be to the right of most Republicans). IA Dems will most likely support a "progressive" Dem, who hopefully will then lose as we head into more balanced states so the party can survive with a candidate who can beat Trump. As much as we all hate the electoral college - we are stuck with it for 2020 (if not much longer) and non of the progressive Dems can win the electoral college.

  40. If Sanders had actually wanted the endorsement of the Democratic Party, he would have joined the Democratic Party. Sanders wants to create a national Democratic Socialist Party by destroying the Democratic Party. His power is in promising young voters free things like healthcare, college education and high wages he cannot deliver. He is a snake oil salesman who believes his own pitch. Warren should never have tried to go toe to toe with him. She knows that his policies are beyond what the country as a whole can manage. She is the moderate between Biden and Bernie. She is smart, well educated in economics and engineered the Consumer Protection Agency-an effective protection of everyday Americans- in spite of the Republican opposition from the start. Biden has the trust of middle America. He has the trust of our allies. He has the trust of Republicans weary of the Trump debacle. He has always backed unions and the middle class. In other words, he is the balm this country needs to soothe the wounds inflicted by too many individuals interested in their own personal gains and not the American people. A Biden/Warren ticket provides the necessary balance and the best chance of foreign and domestic progress, progress desperately needed. Hopefully, the caucuses and primaries will move in that direction with as little acrimony as possible. It may not be exciting, but practical.

  41. @Maureen Steffek We have run and even elected centrist candidates like Biden before and none of them have been able to preserve our democracy against the growing power and greed of the Oligarchy of the wealthy, the corporations, and the MIC, all of which are also destroying the very air we breathe. A centrist is always coopted by money and compromise. We need a big change to preserve our Democracy, and the young people need someone who is going to fight for their future against the Oligarchy. Bernie, with all his faults, is the only candidate willing to stand up to the Oligarchy.

  42. @Maureen Steffek Biden has been selling out unions and the middle class for decades. Establishment Centrists are sellouts all's they can't win. That is why Trump is President. Choose a side.

  43. The author makes it sound as if Ted Cruz had a chance to win the primary in 2016 and that his Iowa win was evidence of this. However, in the end he won only 11 contests as Trump won 37. Iowa wasn’t close to deciding the election. I doubt it will this time either

  44. The problem with this analysis is that so many candidates have such deep pockets (either personally, like Bloomberg & Steyer, or through broad support, like Sanders, Warren & Buttigieg) that no one is going to be dropping out because of one or two poor primary showings. It hasn't happened in my memory, but I think there is little question we are headed for a brokered convention.

  45. This is just one more example of why the present situation in the US, re primaries (and caucuses) and elections are problematical. 50 states, 50 sets of rules, none simple, all complex in some way or another and extending over too long a period of time. Hard to imagine who thought out this system. It was not the Founding Fathers as they made no constitutional provision for primaries.

  46. The primaries are entirely the business of the political parties involved. They can select their candidates any way they want including pulling a name out of a hat. It has nothing to do with the government or the Constitution.

  47. @Joshua Schwartz Or political parties.

  48. Since the Iowa Caucuses began in 1972, most of the Democratic winners have gotten the party's nomination. However a quick look shows that most of them would certainly have been nominated had those caucuses not been held. For the Republicans, Iowa is often used by a fringe candidate spending all his time, money and staff there. Six Republican winners there have gotten the nomination, three of them sitting Presidents and one Vice President. There is a military saying that a battle doesn't decide who's right, but it surely decides who's left. So it will be with Iowa this year. Most Democratic candidates seem to be running in hopes of being chosen Vice President or to a Cabinet position, or maybe to gain recognition that will be useful in four years. Anybody not finishing in the top five in Iowa will lose those possibilities. It will be similar in New Hampshire. Today there are four Democratic candidates who in Iowa and nationwide consistently favored by 10 to 25 percent of the electorate, in most recent polls more like 15 to 20 percent. The rest score less than 5 percent, but there are so many of them that their total number of supporters is significant. Until the field winnows down, who wins in Iowa will not affect who gets the nomination. But who loses will have a significant effect.

  49. The emphasis on Iowa and Kew Hampshire is absurd. Mr. Douthat, please focus more on the dangers involved in re-electing Trump. He must be stopped at all costs for the sake of the Republic.

  50. @Anon Where is Kew Hampshire? Sounds like an outer borough of London. Just kidding, that darn spellcheck, I’m sure, but I couldn’t resist adding that to my originally conceived comment stating I agree with you. There are some readers who are already declaring in NYT comments that they’ll vote third party again if Biden is the nominee. A desperately needed lesson in basic American civics with an emphasis on the electoral college’s effect in reinforcing the two-party system of presidential elections is warranted and even more crucial this year.

  51. At this moment one thing is clear. The progressive voters ,that is the Sanders, Warren voters, are still a significant plurality in most states. What happens in SC is meaningless because SC is never going to vote Democratic in a presidential election. IA, WI, MI, New Hampshire and PA are still up for grabs so the primaries there are significant for who ever wins those states and NC will be president.

  52. @Edward B. Blau Yes an often overlooked point in the pundit and poll world, simply because a candidate wins the popular vote among democrats in a state that has no chance of an electoral win, is a false choice. The presumed electability and perceived black voter preference for Biden is a mirage perpetrated by the Biden camp and some elites, grass roots and anti-trump fervor will determine the candidate and the next president.

  53. Smoke-filled rooms did it better. The problem with both primaries and caucuses is that they tend to be dominated by the most extreme elements of the party, nominating candidates who either cannot win or who would be terrible Presidents if they did. This applies to both parties.

  54. @Jonathan Katz A two party system is supposed to offer opposite and competing sets of values and policies, not two candidates that agree with each other. It is the Democrats' delusion that running to the center creates good candidates or good policy that made Trump president. Democrats spent 25 years compromising with Republicans while they went more extreme. If you don't like the two party system push for ranked Choice Voting. This would let people vote for their favorite candidate but also vote for other candidates down the list, so their vote isn't wasted. Of everyone got to vote for whoever they their was the best candidate workout trying to game the system, we would probably end up with better candidates. Compromise is supposed to come at the end of legislative negotiations, not the day candidates announce. If you compromise too early, you have nothing left to trade at the end of negotiations.

  55. @Jonathan Katz Uuuummm...Hillary Clinton was the smoke filled room candidate. How did they "do it better"? Was she an extremist candidate?

  56. @Ben She was a highly qualified candidate but left-wing party members opted out or voted third party. We will also never know how much the outsized negative press coverage of Russian interference and Russian released embarrassing e-mails and the FBI Chief last second reopening of a investigation added to a very close loss in the swing states. The “reality tv star” occupant fed on economic fears and ad hominem lies and ugliest scapegoating of recent memory. The present occupant would never ever been nominated in a smoke filled room of the Republican Party.

  57. They have for the last 6 cycles. Although why we stick with Iowa, I can't imagine. It certainly does not represent the diversity of this country, and so cannot possibly reflect the sentiment of a god cross section of Americans. It tells us how white people feel. If it boosts Bernie's chances, and his already incredible popularity, though, who am I to argue?

  58. I hope the primaries do not pick any one candidate and that the July Democratic convention is the place where the selections are made. We will have a much better idea of what issues are most important to the country, and Trump will have much less time to smear the candidates. My pick: Sherrod Brown and Kamala Harris for pres and vice-pres.; and at the convention they can name in advance most of the other democratic candidates for the cabinet posts to which Brown/Harris will nominate them after taking office. If only.

  59. It's not over until it is over. And Iowa is just the start. Not the end result.

  60. If the first states are not small, money would become a much bigger factor. It would also make the first states even more decisive. Something in the system has changed to make the earliest states more decisive - California moved up its primary. Another less structural factor may be a fear of Trump re-election. Now a candidate almost has to win one of the first few states to be seen as a leader before California and others vote for a huge share of the delegates. The current system has flaws, but taken together the four early states represent different regions and have some demographic variety. They give modest-money candidates a chance and allow someone who stumbles there at least the mathematical opportunity to recover. It would be very difficult to design a better system. Four years ago we had a self-centered candidate blame everyone and everything else for what went wrong. There will be an electoral price to pay for making this a tradition. If losing in the primaries makes a candidate cry foul left and right about the rules when the rules are followed, that is a good sign they lack the temperament to be running in the first place.

  61. @Alan time to change the rules. demographic variety? hahahaha.

  62. I find it so strange that a small, not diverse state gets to pick a presidential candidate. Iowa does not represent the majority of the country. It’s time for a new system.

  63. @JR while it is true that Iowa does not represent the country I am not sure if starting the primary season elsewhere would have the impact we want. From my understanding Obama was not leading in the South among black voters until he won in Iowa. It is probably because those voters did not trust white voters to elect a black man. So if the primary in 2008 was held in the South Obama might not have won the nomination. Fast forward to today when political polls show Biden the strong favorite among black voters. However I read an article that says when polled many black voters say they support Biden because they are afraid he is the only candidate white voters would support. It seems like the impact of racism on our elections is much harder to unravel.

  64. There are three things that seem to run contrary to democratic elections: the early show of hands in Iowa and New Hampshire, the amount of money needed to run, and the electoral college. Add to that foreign influence and interference. We need election reform in the United States, and the sooner the better.

  65. I guess we all want to be on the winning side. Still, giving early states, not necessarily representing the healthy ethnical mix of society it's due, is a far cry of representation. Let's hope we have matured politically, so to choose wisely...and being aware of our subconscious biases by continuous self-education on the issues at hand...and who could best represent us.

  66. No. Iowa is over 90% white. It will reflect the thinking of that cohort. Hugh

  67. No, Iowa will not decide the nomination. There are too many players hovering near the top of the polls and some, like Sanders, have a fanatical, energized base that refuses to accept defeat. Biden is winning all the polls according to Real Clear Politics. No one loves him but he is perceived widely as capable of beating Trump, the number one priority for most of us. Sanders/Warren are surging but not perceived as capable of carrying the mid west which we must win and certainly not a general election. Sanders will hold out until a divided convention when, on the second ballot, for the good of the Dem party, which he refuses to join, superdelegates will send him and his supporters packing. The only person who is capable of not only ousting Trump but being a fantastic president and who will win this thing is Mike Bloomberg. People are beginning to coalesce around this real leader who is campaigning in states we must win. It doesn't hurt that his most vocal supporter and co-campaigner is Judge Judy whom 10 million Americans watch daily. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmNiDCSofoc

  68. No candidate has yet caught fire. I like Biden and Warren as standard-bearers, with Bullock or Klobuchar as VP running mate for either one, or perhaps a Biden-Warren ticket. Another VP candidate is Sherrod Brown.

  69. These horse-handicappjng articles are fun but seldom predictive. I would bet on a long increasingly fractious and bitter slog.

  70. Iowa, a largely agricultural state with a small almost totally white populace that does not represent the ethnic diversity of our country has no business picking anyone for anything other than winners of pie cooking contests at country fairs. Our political system promotes minority rule and will never become a democracy until we get rid of the Electoral College.

  71. @Christy ...and yet Barak Obama won the Iowa caucus vote in 2008 and Hillary won in diverse CA, NY and FL. I'd happily go for a different primary system though.

  72. It’s well past time to ditch Iowa and New Hampshire for Nevada and South Carolina as the first two states. The next two should be Pennsylvania and Arizona. The first four need to be swing states or those with low participation and lots of people of color.

  73. @Deirdre Wouldn't finding states that mirror the country at large as much as possible be the fairest way to pick a nominee rather than trying to bias it for or against minority voters?

  74. If you've spend any amount of time in Iowa, you would understand exactly why this state should NOT have such influence. Let's just say it feels kind of like a foreign country to folks who've spent their lives in larger, more diverse places. Iowans seem smugly set in their ways and there's a palpable sense of entitlement, as if the state SHOULD be so important in the electoral process because of its innate homespun wisdom. I'll tell you how "wise" the place it. One of its congressional districts is represented by Steve King, he of the continuous stream of racist rants and tropes!

  75. Well, first of all, Bloomberg isn't included in Iowa, so there's that.

  76. The expensive and ridiculous pre-election season does as much to pick the nominee.

  77. Trump has picked Biden and Pelosi has unwittingly done so too. Iowan has no real choice but to run him. We will hear much more about Hunter than we ever wanted to know now. What a disgrace!

  78. @Charlie What makes you think that Pelosi has "unwittingly" done so? More likely it was quite intentional or maybe a positive ( for her) side effect of her decisions.....

  79. I am hardly a fan of the "Woke" crowd, but Iowa always going first is positively racist and undemocratic. That one group of people should always get to have such a disproportionate influence in choosing our nominees is oppressive. That it is such an anomalous group that decidedly discounts the voices of people of color, non-christians and urban dwellers is morally despicable. We need to move to a rotating primary basis where different states get to go first. There are bigger injustices in our democratic process (The Electoral College) but this one is actually within our current power to remedy.

  80. Given that it is 2020 and the state of Iowa remains a bell weather in a national election above best hog in show is pathetic enough. That its population would decide a candidate for the highest office in a nation of 340 million people is down right depressing.

  81. I highly doubt a bunch of old white religious, monogamous men (farmers) from a rural state will decide the democratic nomination. I hope not anyway. The democratic party is much broader than than men, white, religious, and monogamous. Doubt that it matters anyway because the electoral college will select trump.

  82. I am an Iowan and the idea Iowa will dictate who the nominee is is laughable. I have always felt 4 or 5 primary dates and done; maybe not that many.

  83. Two words: Brokered Convention. The scenario Ross doesn't mention is that nobody gets a majority of the delegates going into the convention; a scenario increasingly likely. And then, with the superdelegates weighing in, and the backroom dealing that will happen, who knows who will come out of it with the nomination? It could be someone who has already dropped out, or someone not even currently "running". The only question then is whether a contentious Democratic party with all of the anger and bad feelings this would engender could coalesce around such a candidate--and my sense is probably not, leading to write ins, third party votes, stay at homes, and Orange Round Two. And if that happens, we will wear out badges of shame for our stupidity--for as long as we survive.

  84. "First, it’s quite possible that Biden could win Iowa outright, and in doing so basically wrap up the nomination early." No, it isn't "quite possible". Sanders hung in against Clinton to the end. There is no reason for him to behave differently this time around, particularly given that Biden is always a good chance to hurt his prospects by saying something really dumb. Candidates usually drop out when they run out of money. There are multiple candidates who aren't going to do that anytime soon.

  85. Yet another article that shows the primary/caucus system we developed and struggle under is more of a hinderance and debacle than the old party nomination system. Yes, there were abuses and dirty tricks in the old smoke-filled rooms of lore, but we wouldn't have had a Donald Trump as nominee and then president, or have to endure months of both parties publicly eating their own every four years.

  86. Age matters! Biden and Sanders are just too darn old.

  87. @Charlie You forgot Warren. She's in her 70s.

  88. I enjoy reading these horse-race columns, but please remember the year that it was definitely going to be Hillary Clinton against Rudy Giuliani, and the year it was definitely going to be Jeb Bush, and the years when nobody had heard of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Soon it will be Bernie's time in the barrel, and beyond sputtering outrage, where's the beef?

  89. I think it is time to consider banishing primaries altogether or else establishing one primary day for the whole country. Iowa most certainly is no longer representative the the America we live in today.

  90. If Russia is working so hard to defeat Biden, doesn’t that mean Biden should be our next President? Go, Joe!

  91. Are we really better off today with these primaries and caucuses than the “smoked filled rooms” of conventions’ past? The present occupant of the White House killed my confidence in the present method. At least in the past, we would get an experienced candidate who unified the party. Today, it’s a pure media event with no experience necessary.

  92. Well, be careful what you wish for. Iowa may determine the nominee, but PA could determine the election. I don't see Sanders carrying PA. Let's get rid of Trump first. That's the most important thing in this election.

  93. @Joe yup. We can move farther left later.

  94. This infuriates me every four years. Why does Iowa always get to go first? Candidates spend two or more years trekking through Iowa potlucks, diners and county fairs before the caucuses, which aren’t even true elections as we know them. And before Iowa even votes several candidates have dropped out because their polling in Iowa is poor. Why the outsized importance on Iowa? And after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the race is pretty much over. Iowa has somehow become the proxy for the midwest, New Hampshire for the northeast, and South Carolina for the south. How about we start giving some other states a chance to be first? And how about four or five states go first on the same day? Maybe this arrangement made sense at one time, but it doesn’t any longer.

  95. Plus all those candidates eating fried butter something raise their cholesterol and blood pressure leading them closer to heart disease. Start with large states like CA, at least the diet would be healthier to keep Bernie alive until the end of the race.

  96. @Jack Sonville All three Republican states with a minority if Democrat voters. It certainly helps the Republicans stay in power.

  97. @Jack Sonville. Couldn't agree more. And as you point out, Iowa being a caucus state only amplifies the injustice.

  98. Why can't we have a National Primary Voting Day, period. Just think, no electoral College involved. Every vote counts and the Majority vote count matters. In addition the campaign season will be shorter. We will immediately know who will be the Presidential nominee and the second place winner will be the Vice-Presidential Candidate.

  99. As a voter in a state that will not have its primary until June, I am annoyed that we still have a primary system based back in the era when candidates traveled by horse and buggy. By the time I get to vote in the primary, the field will be even narrower. There is absolutely no need to have primaries take up so many months, it only increases the number of photos of candidates in diners and tour buses and doesn't really give us more information.

  100. While everyone likes your comment, it is incorrect. The first primary was 1912 and while there were some horse and buggies around the auto had already taken over. So the primary is a modern event.

  101. @Monica C There is nothing "horse and buggy" about the Iowa caucus influence. It dates to the 1970's. Prior to that, party elites pretty much picked their candidates without asking ordinary people to weigh in. So, you might not like the Iowa caucuses, but if so you are actually disapproving of the modern system of nomination, not of some legacy system from the 1800's.

  102. I doubt Iowa will determine who gets the Democratic nomination, too much is riding on this election. My opinion is, it will go down to the wire, states like Utah and Arkansas will count. Each of the top tier candidates have a hoard of cash, and have the wherewithal to stay in the race. Iowa will play it's part, but just a small one. I'm 76, and this is the most crucial election of my lifetime.

  103. @Erica Smythe It really sounds like, by voting republican consistently, you're really just voting establishment over and over, and you've simply rationalized voting for the R candidate by saying it was necessary. Trump being different from establishment candidates is true, in much the same way that arson is a way of redecorating a house. If you're comfortable with that, then sure own that fact proudly. But know that it's the infrastructure of the poor that are getting torched-not the mansions and high rise condos. Those are all comfortably intact and growing.

  104. @Erica Smythe Oh please. Trump has changed absolutely nothing about the status quo and the “elites’” status therein, except that our foreign allies trust us less now and we’ve helped extend Putin’s corruption in time and geography.

  105. Stop the madness! National primary day in August, national election day in November. Of course, the big business of media and politics wouldn’t go for that. Thus, we all suffer.

  106. @SomethingElse Agree. It is time to stop the two-year and growing campaign cycle. We need election reform desperately. National primary in August with campaigning only 90 days prior. I am tired of Iowa and New Hampshire picking my candidate for me. I am also tired of campaigns that cost billions. Think what that kind of funding could do for real problems.

  107. @SomethingElse Totally agree while adding that BOTH National Primary Day and National Election Day should be held on Saturdays...

  108. @SomethingElse In addition to national primary day, we need ranked choice voting along with open primaries.

  109. Boy do we need a new system. No offense to Iowa but out here where I live it's as if voting for President won't matter by the time we have the opportunity. The selection of a candidate to run against a sitting president is too important to be run by just one party, who designed a process to select ONLY their preferred candidates ( by selective polling and money raised ) and where a single small state hold such enormous sway. Sad.

  110. Ranked Choice Voting, which ME successfully adopted for the 2018 elections and MA voters are considering on our ballots this coming fall, would help tremendously with these large primaries. One could rank voter in order of preference. I happen to like Warren, Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg in that order among the front runners. If Warren failed to reach a certain threshold, my vote would transfer to Sanders, and so forth. This ensures the ultimate nominee is acceptable to a true majority of voters. It is likely a similar system would have denied Trump and his 40% of Republican primary popular votes from becoming the nominee. For my own party's primary, I fear that in a seven candidate race, Biden and his ironclad 30% is King.

  111. @James NYC has just adopted RCV for its municipal elections, effective next year I believe. Let's hope the state follows suit soon for state-wide elections. Meanwhile, Rank-choice polling could easily be instituted next week if the pollsters took the trouble. It would reveal the depth of each candidate's support. If candidate A has 30% first-choice support, candidate B is the first or second choice of 60%, B is the deeper candidate.

  112. As a native of Iowa (born and raised, in Steve King's district no less), I find it absurd that a small, non-representative state has so much power every four years. Equally absurd is a campaign that lasts two years (and that's just the intense part) and forces serious candidates to shake the hand of virtually every interested voter in the state. That's one reason I hope Bloomberg is the nominee. But breaking the power of Iowa is the least of my interests. I think that Mike is the anti-Trump. A fine, successful, generous man with experience and integrity. I'm especially grateful for his efforts to counter the NRA, whose only answer to every problem is MORE GUNS. It would also be nice to have a President who believes in climate change. And even if he loses, he has promised to support the nominee in defeating arguably the worst President in American history.

  113. @bnyc I'm a climate scientist. I heard Bloomberg speak in San Francisco at the AGU, where he said "isn't it nice to see white roofs when you fly in to JFK." I assume he's flying in a private jet. The rest of his short speech was no better. In other words, he's completely out of touch with the severity of the climate emergency. As you would expect from a billionaire. Bernie is the clear climate candidate. It's not even close.

  114. I am not a registered Democrat, so in many ways, it's none of my business how the Democratic Party chooses its presidential candidate. As an interested voter, however, I would advocate for scrapping the primary system altogether and returning to a system, still used in Europe, in which the political parties in the United States nominate presidential candidates at nominating conventions (preceded perhaps by state nominating conventions). Actually, that's how the smaller parties in the United States such as the Libertarian Party operate. Registered members of political parties (not voters registered with a party) should convene to pick party leaders, including candidates for public offices. Political parties should represent a platform and candidates from those parties should be chosen to present that platform to the voters. The primary system has had its day. Voters would be better served by parties choosing their candidates at conventions designed for that purpose, just as was once was done in the United States and still does occur in Europe.

  115. Zip code political power is exactly why the you are no longer a "united states." What exactly makes the geographical position of Iowa any more important than FL or TX or CA or MA? If the electoral map were wiped away tomorrow and a national election held without regard to where one lives, then the presidential election would encompass all Americans. Instead, you seem enjoy dissecting yourselves into pieces which gives huge political power to a minority of citizens. I have personally lived in 6 states in my life. Did I somehow deserve more political power in one zip code than in another?

  116. Given the importance, I guess, there is no single place in the country that looks less like the rest of this country every election cycle...

  117. Why are we still doing this antiquated primary process? No one likes this primary process. Based on the comments here, that sentiment is still strong. No single state- whether it be Iowa or California or any other state should be first in this process. The Democratic party needs to revamp the entire primary system and have a primary voting period over several days for all the states simultaneously. The primary election should not be based on whether the candidate shows up for a state fair and eats corn dogs. It should be based on the issues and which candidate has the best ideas to solve our problems- and of course, electability on a national level. The primary candidates need to communicate equally to all voters in every state- just as they would be doing for the national election. If they can win in a national primary, they can build upon that experience to win in a national election.

  118. The DNC has artificially aggrandized the significance of the early state primaries and caucuses by giving polls in those states equal status with national polls in its debate formula. Having an early primary or caucus has natural disadvantages as well as advantages, because voters will not have access to late information about the field of candidates. Going late in the season may make your state the king-maker (or queen-maker). But being left out of the debates because your strength doesn't happen to be in Iowa or NH is an artificial disadvantage that is the doing of the DNC.

  119. The way our political system works through the Electoral College, once the nominee has been determined, all money should be spent courting just those few thousand voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that will determine our collective fate.

  120. Is anyone else so so sick of the outsized power and influence of the voters of Iowa? That the concerns of a relative handful of farmers and mostly white midwesterners have so much to say about who WE (everyone else) gets to choose for our candidate for president? It seems a huge challenge to get rid of the other 3 problems with our system - the imbalance in the house of rep (needs to be expanded) the outsized influence of Senators from low population states (why are there 2 Dakotas?) and the electoral college (an outdated and non democratic system). But the primaries are up to the parties (in this case the Dems) to approve and set. This is easy to change and must change.Rotating order people.

  121. You present a good analysis of all the different contingent scenarios. With polls fluctuating and many Iowa voters undecided, it could turn out a number of ways. I think the best way to approach uncertainty is to not overreact to it. I saw a chart showing the market went down when Elizabeth Warren's poll numbers went up and conversely it went up when Elizabeth Warren's numbers went down. This kind of nitpicking over potential presidents and their ideas is overreaction. Yet it is illuminating to see who is overreacting, what they stand to gain and lose (very marginal, more a sense of pride and status).

  122. Id like to see ranked-choice voting implemented in both the primary and the general. Then the winning candidate of both elections would have made the top 3 for most Democrats and most Americans. It would reduce spoiler effects. It would change the rules so that rancor doesn’t drive every single conversation. We need to find a way to live happily in our democracy.

  123. @Alix Hoquet An RCV D primary poll last Sept. sponsored by YouGov/FairVote illustrates how RCV might change the outcome of an election. In terms of first choices out of a field of 5, Biden led Warren by 4 points, but after the 3 weakest candidates were eliminated, Warren led Biden by 6 points. For details, see https://www.vox.com/2019/9/12/20860985/poll-democratic-primary-ranked-choice-warren-biden A google search for RCV reveals that Wyoming has just adopted RCV for its D caucuses.

  124. For Iowa to be important, they're going to have to explain how the Obama vote went to Trump. Anyone that fickle is not decisive enough to lead the nation.

  125. @Occupy Government Who was the democratic nominee against Trump? And now everyone knows why Iowa chose Trump.

  126. Karl Rove had a more persuasive analysis with his white board last night on FOX. He pointed out that with the proportionate award of delegates, the top four finishers are likely to split the 41 delegates about equally. The overall difference in votes among Biden, Sanders, Warren and the Mayor is unlikely to give anyone major bragging rights. Seems unlikely Iowa settles anything.

  127. Iowa NEVER determines the nominee for a party. Can we please stop with this constant fantasy that Iowa decides who gets to be president. It's a 50 state race, and this time around.. states like California get to weigh in early, before other states vote and allocate delegates that historically make California a non-contributor in the primaries.

  128. @Chuck Finally a voice of reason.

  129. Much more likely Iowa will begin to show that this is going to a 3rd or 4th convention ballot.

  130. No. And none of the people on tonight’s debate stage will be the nominee.

  131. It’s so ridiculous all the focus on Iowa and New Hampshire. Here is a perfect example of the MEDIA setting the terms of the debate in order to have something to talk about - constantly! Iowa will be long forgotten after Super Tuesday and the idea that the Iowa CAUCUS (not even a full primary!) represents the average American voter is phooey. I’ve never picked an ear of corn in my life.

  132. It is way past the time to end the tyranny of this ridiculous, un-democratic caucus process focused on one of the least representative states in the Union. The parties should end the caucus process completely and move to primaries to nominate their slates. A small group of activists can skew the results of any caucus - not so with primaries. Who cares what a handful of people in Iowa support? They have had way too much say in this process for way too many years.

  133. As of July 2016, African Americans are 12.7% of the population. Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority, comprising an estimated 17.8% of the population. According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Iowa was: White: 90.28% Black or African American: 3.51% Asian: 2.40% I'm sorry--How does a state that's no where near mirrors America--Deciding the Candidate?

  134. Should Iowa decide the Democratic nomination is a far better question.

  135. How do you factor in Biden's overwhelming support among minority voters in a state with a demographic of over 90% white? He might lose the Iowa caucuses but he would be a sure winner in South Carolina. The first states to vote in primaries should be more representative of diverse voting blocs and how they will pick their nominee.

  136. I'm an Independent voter, but I wonder if the Democrats are starting the dreaded circular firing squad. And if that will give Mr. Bloomberg a leg up. "He can buy every news adjacency on cable and local television stations from now until November and not make a dent in his net worth ... Someone who unifies more moderate, pragmatic Democratic voters will win virtually every big state beginning on Super Tuesday ... all the things that would have made him tedious in previous presidential election campaigns make him appealing now." (Washington Post, 11Jan2020) As an Independent voter in Houston, I've already seen many polished, prime time television ads by Mr. Bloomberg, and virtually none from any other candidate. Because of the large number of Democratic candidates, I've been waiting for them to thin the herd before I pay any real attention to policy details. But Mr. Bloomberg's ads are pretty attractive on his positions, pretty much all of which I agree with - health care, the environment, etc. The best point is that its time for Mr. Trump to go. I think he may, indeed, carry the red state of Texas (38 electoral votes) which has been getting more purple in recent years.

  137. I don't think most Iowans would care about losing the first in the nation status, but it you think that would somehow result in a "fairer" process, I'm afraid you are mistaken. Generally speaking, the states with a more diverse population, say NY and CA are big money states. The number of billionaires funding the candidates would increase. It would be even more based on money and celebrity than it is now.

  138. I'm glad the Dems tightened up the primary calendar a bit. None-the-less it is time for a 21st century overhaul! I think the country ought to be divided up into 4 geographic primary sections (4 super Tuesdays if you will) and every 4 years a different geographic area leads off the voting. I also think the primary season should be shortened. It's exhausting to sit through two years of campaigning to elect a president – and the amount of money wasted in American elections is staggering. We also need to dump the Electoral College, a slave era system for apportioning votes. One vote should equal one vote.

  139. I see an exciting convention this summer in Milwaukee where no candidate enters the hall with 51% of the delegates needed for the nomination. It is entirely reasonable to see Biden coming in with 45% of the delegates, Bernie with 25%, Warren with 15% and either Mayor Pete and Senator Amy with the remainder. One of those candidates becomes a kingmaker. Who?

  140. I think we need to change our framing of constituencies here, in order to improve our analysis of various scenarios. Warren and Bernie do NOT represent the same parts of the party. As an AWFUL - an Affluent White Female Urban Liberal - Liz isn't really a leftist or an ally of the working class. She has no problem backing away from unpopular policies (Medicare for all), no problem dodging details about costs, no problem fighting dirty in order to get ahead (witness what she just did to Bernie), and she has a strong appetite for identity politics. All are classic AWFUL plays, which her constituency of fellow self-entitled and un-self aware AWFUL's doesn't mind. Bernie on the other hand is a DSA leftist. Biden and the rest represent and appeal to the soft middle, who either don't follow politics that closely, or who just want someone who can beat Trump without all of the "stress" of a hard fought primary. With this being the breakdown, it's all a turn out game. Who's more fired up? The young activists in Bernie's camp, in districts like AOC's and on campus? Or the AWFULs and aspiring AWFULs in all of those pricey gentrified zip codes and well heeled burbs? Or will there be a large showing of the soft middle? My guess is Bernie takes Iowa and NH, based on a state-wide lack of AWFULs and large numbers of his type. Even more will turn out after what Liz just did to him, too. But in the end, we're probably looking at a brokered convention. Definitely a Trump win.

  141. Easy answer as a former Iowan- no.

  142. Like Yogi said "It Ain't over til it' over. Here in Minnesota, Skip Hunphrey looked like a shoo in after winning the big tobacco settlement. Then Jessy came along.

  143. Does anyone care what Iowa does in this exercise in futility?

  144. @Ricardoh Jimmy Carter cared. Obama cared. People that have lost here cared.

  145. This inconsequential fly-over state and the self-important residents of New Hampshire are not going to determine anything,

  146. The thing that drives the craziest about Iowa, besides the fact that it’s rural and white, is that come November the majority of Iowans will vote for Trump. What if next time Iowa held a party and no one came?

  147. Wyoming Democrats have just adopted rank-choice voting for their primary caucuses. Google ranked-choice voting Wyoming for details.

  148. Why are the "pundits" - including Douthat and Bret Stephens - compelled to spend as much time talking about Klobuchar as the top contenders? She has never cracked 6% in the polls and has as much chance of taking Iowa as I do.

  149. Will Iowa Decide the Democratic Nomination? No. Not at all, because Iowa does not represent the country, by far! and the Democrats cannot make up their minds, do they want far left wing lunacy (Warren, Sanders) or Washington as usual (Biden), or a totally inexperienced deer in the headlights (Pete), or a white old rich New Yorker. None of those represent Iowa. And Iowa does not represent the USA. What they choose, they will choose for themselves, but it will be gleefully ignored by the woke, the liberals, the AOC acolytes and the centrists.

  150. "Deer in the headlights" is a ludicrous description of Buttigieg, who is quick-witted with composure to spare.

  151. More than anything else some candidates' behavior right before Iowa caucuses, along with the media's role as a facilitator will decide not only Iowa but the rest of the primaries. On November 15, the NYT published a curious piece about President Obama selling Elizabeth Warren to rich donors that has since set the pace. Yesterday, of course, was CNN's bombshell disinformation piece about a private dinner and what was('nt) said in it. Also yesterday, came Michelle Goldberg's op-ed in which we read in the 5th paragraph that her husband works for the Warren campaign through a digital consultancy that has hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of contract with Warren. In today's NYT, we have the interview with Warren in which she won't talk about Joe Biden. I realize the interview predates yesterday's Sanders dust-up, but the hypocrisy stands nonetheless. This cycle is no different than 2016. The establishment, media included, doesn't want to allow a Sanders nomination and all the stops are being pulled, no matter how low. Warren's supporters should worry that after spending most of the year riding Sanders' coattails and copying his policies, she began to pivot away from them as soon as she had the lead. They should also worry about how thin-skinned she is. Running a DNA test in answer to Trump's insults wasn't wise. Warren started out as a Republican. Could she be too good to be true? A lot of people have been wondering since her pivot to a ten year plan. Now, even more.

  152. We should rotate the order of primaries every four years, from a collection of several small states. Having a national primary day which decides the candidate makes no sense. It doesn't allow for followup scrutiny by the press of the winner of the first state. It doesn't allow for additional debates. It doesn't make it easy for an unknown candidate to campaign in all 50 states at once. How about Missouri, Vermont, Georgia, and Pennsylvania as the first four next time? It avoids Iowa, NH, SC, being so important every four years. Yet it still lets the process unfold slowly. Having a process which is over too short gave MN Jesse Ventura.

  153. Well, there were at one point almost 20 candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination. Looks like it's now down to less than 10, with about 10 "dropping out." In the latter group, there are/were a lot of quite good candidates, like Kamala Harris and Steve Bullock and Sherrod Brown. There is clearly something wrong (meaning mainly money but also the intense media scrutiny) that prevents such candidates from continuing. As for the remaining 10 or so still formally in the race, Biden and Sanders seem way too old to be doing this. Bloomberg is way too rich. Deval Patrick? I don't think so. Amy Klobuchar, yes, but not enough spark. Elizabeth Warren, yes. Buttigeig? Too young. I'd go at this point with Warren or Biden (despite his age), with Bullock or Klobuchar or Brown as VP.

  154. From the Booker interview: “For the last 50 years, Democrats have had a tendency to chew up and spit out their front-runners,” the pollster John Zogby has said.Mr. Only three Democratic candidates in the last half-century who were early front-runners went on to win the nomination: Walter Mondale, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. None won the general election." "None won the general election". Maybe the vast pool of candidates and the fluidity of this race is a good thing.

  155. Eliminate the electoral college. One person one vote! All the rest is window dressing. Until we do that, we’ll never have a fair election in this country, and will continue to produce crazy results like the flaming dumpster fire currently occupying the Oval Office.

  156. If you were assigned to make a national strategic decision that could potentially impact every American household, would you travel to Iowa, ask a small percentage of people in a primarily white low-populated farm state to vote on it, then base your final decision on their votes? Sounds pathetic, doesn't it.

  157. If Biden cruises to the nomination after winning Iowa like Kerry... how did that end? Go Mayor Mike! Keep playing the long game.

  158. It is so easy to bash Iowa ("horse and buggy days") but know this: if the first contest were in California, the campaign would consist of billion-dollar ad agencies flinging TV ads all day long. At least in Iowa candidates might actually have to face actual people and explain themselves.

  159. No actual people in CA? Good to know. Says a lot.

  160. No offense to Iowa, but I wish we could have a SINGLE actual primary day in the most populous states, not in a white rural state with more corn and cows than people. Iowa and all these "boutique" state primaries do not mirror the US. CA, NY, Florida, IL, and TX do. We have the people and all the issues and challenges of a modern America. And, don't get me started on the Electoral College which gives someone in rural PA a vote multiplier that erases my vote.

  161. As a younger voter, I can’t fathom apart from farmer lobbyists why Iowa always goes first. Let IBM’s Watson pick the first few states. Or better yet, the whole damn country votes the same day and it’s a national holiday.

  162. But that would be logical.

  163. Iowa, with less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, potentially deciding the new president. Almost as bad as 51 senators, five Supreme Court justices, one Senate majority leader or 270 electoral votes deciding the course of this country and its fate.

  164. Iowa caucuses may decide who's ahead in that state, but given that its demographics are in no way representative of the rest of the nation, it's hard to imagine they pick the winner. We're going to have to wait for that one.

  165. Structurally the Iowa role seems all wrong. But in terms of democracy, I've begun to see it differently. We tend to forget the evidence that groupthink fails, that our current partisan landscape is driven by social cohesion. Democracy works when individuals think for themselves, gather their own facts, and decide without influence of others. If this sounds impossible today, or ever, it's a matter of how much. Iowans are able to hear candidates in person, not mediated, and they aren't keen on going with the group. Whether by accident or not, they seem to gravitate towards the ideal approach: thinking for themselves. The founding parents of the US Constitution debated whether a big country could be democratic, when historical examples were city-states. Madison argued that size was good, because isolated groups would cancel each other's special interests. Sort of worked. But there's still something to be said for smaller populations doing democracy. Let's accept this accident of history until America matures more.

  166. No, I don't think Iowa will determine the Dem nominee. The way it looks to me, there may not be a clear winner before the convention, and it could get deadlocked. It would not be good for Democrats if the nominee is selected in the proverbial smoke-filled room.

  167. Joe Biden does not have good judgement--and he allowed his son to make more baggage for Joe. He will loose the election just the way Hillary did.

  168. I am in Iowa. Everyone knows we can pick the winners. Its in the water here. I will let you all in on a little secret. Biden in Iowa and for the nomination. Trump for the win, again. Sorry.

  169. @Mark It will come down to three things, Mark: Turnout, turnout and turnout.

  170. @Mark Nope. Iowa people decent. Biden - yes. Trump - resounding rejection. Character counts.

  171. I am more and more uncomfortable with the way elections are managed in this country. I will, of course, vote for Mike Bloomberg if he becomes the Democrat nominee for President. (Anyone but Trump!) However, I believe the amount of money this man is spending is outrageous and I think serious consideration should be made to determine whether or not a spending limit on elections should be enacted. Should the amount of money spent on elections and a time limit placed on an electoral period be enacted? Even the appearance of "buying" an election doesn't say much for democracy in this country.

  172. @Cristino Xirau What better way to spend great wealth than to put the country back on a viable path?

  173. @Cristino Xirau Will be interesting to see if Bloomberg uses his money to support whomever the Democratic nominee is. Do not expect it to be Bloomberg. Hoping for Joe/Elizabeth ticket. Would be a good team. Where are Trumputins tax returns?? America wants to know!!

  174. @Cristino Xirau: So what, if a billionaire like Bloomberg spends his own money? Would you prefer he take money from special interests, or worse, Citizens' United? At least outwardly, Mayor Mike appears beholden to no one.

  175. No matter how much you hate it. Iowa will always go first. You don't want to hear why that's such a good idea. But it is. And it's not going to change.

  176. @Larry Thiel Good idea for what and who ? Not for a large and diverse America, but I guess it's good for small, disconnected with the rest of the country and white rural Iowa.

  177. Every Joe in (teensy, white ) Iowa gets glad handed by presidential nominees. The rest of us? Meh

  178. In other words, Iowa will give us some indication of the direction of the race -- but may or may not be significant.

  179. Advice to candidates -- voters in the country do not want Iowa and New Hampshire to dictate to the rest of us who the nominee should be. Keep going. I know you have to be in Iowa but take heart. Iowa does not represent our country and you will have many other opportunities. I am thrilled that we have some billionaires in the race who have the resources to take on Trump and the Republicans. Let the 1% slug it out while we do the ground work and get out the vote, fight voter suppression. We will see the tax cuts and Citizens United at work this year.

  180. The electoral system has somehow devolved into a two-State race?? Another example of 'be careful what you wish for', assuming that someone actually wished for this. The 'framers' would likely be horrified.

  181. Iowa has too much power in the election process and I wish it were diminished. --Most of the rest of the country

  182. I don't understand why we don't have a Democratic/Republican primary week and that is it. The two winners with the most delegates go head to head in November. The system we have was created before the modern era when communication and travel were difficult.

  183. I would like to vote for Sanders because I think the US should provide universal health care to Americans. But I don't think a wealth tax would work. I have a confession to make. I was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. My mother told me the earth is only 6000 years old. So I visited the Grand Canyon. And it looked like the canyon was cut by the Colorado River. But the Colorado River could not have cut the canyon in 6000 years. So I rejected creationism. Then I went to the university. And I found that the sciences made sense but not so much the social sciences. In particular, macroeconomics appeared fraudulent. (Not microeconomics of course.) The reason was the models were based upon human behavior. People could choose to disobey the economic rules. That's different from the planets which are FORCED to follow Newtonian mechanics. And the statistics used by economists seem fraudulent. Take GDP for example. It doesn't include the effects of global warming which may drive humans to extinction! So why does the wealth tax look fraudulent? Because it imagines that the wealth of billionaires can be transformed into medical care. The famous painting Salvator Mundi by Leonardo sold for $450 million at auction. But how do you transform that into medical care? Wouldn't the price fall? The stock market is now in bubble territory. Isn't there a danger that a wealth tax (if implemented) would lead to a market crash, preventing the wealth from being collected?

  184. @Blaise Descartes No.

  185. It’s quite something, seeing Ross Douthat complain and indeed bewail minority representation. Perhaps he might direct me to his attendant column concerning said moral importance for the GOP?

  186. This primary system along with the malevolent media is worse than the smoked filled room with the bosses selecting the nominee or at the convention. Its a riddle within an enigma. Remember the bosses selected Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR as well as Truman. If I stream CNN tonight does my slimy cable company get anything out of it?

  187. Re: Pete Buterieg an "Indianan" In April 2016, Indiana’s U.S. Senators sent a bipartisan letter to the federal office responsible for printing government documents, asking that the word “Hoosiers” be the official word to describe Indiana natives. According to a style manual from the U.S. Government Publishing Office, those who live in Indiana are “Indianans.” That office produces and prints documents for all three branches of the federal government. Republican senator Dan Coats and Democratic senator Joe Donnelly sent a letter Tuesday urging the use of “Hoosiers” instead. The senators say newspapers in the state have been using the term since 1826. They also quote a poem from Richmond poet John Finley that they say normalized the term. The poem is called “The Hoosier’s Nest.” As a Hoosier, I just wanted to say.

  188. Booker and Castro lost because they failed to build large and durable pluralities. Not because white Iowans didn’t like the color of their skin. If you want to talk about discrimination, how about South Carolina voters refusing to consider Mayor Pete because he’s gay?

  189. Iowa put one of the best Presidents, Obama, on the path to victory, and he won. Who knows what we will do this round. I doubt many Iowans are paying attention to the fact that Joe Biden has been trying to cut Social Security for 40 years and may vote for him. https://theintercept.com/2020/01/13/biden-cuts-social-security/