Patterico's Pontifications


Iowa Writ Large (Caucus Open Thread)

Filed under: General — Karl @ 4:00 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The Des Moines Register has a multimedia explainer about how the Iowa Caucuses work, and will be reporting overall results.  Google has a county-level map.  The WaPo has six counties to watch, and a Romney-centric scorecard.  And here’s the consensus establishment journo prediction.

However, Nate Silver likely gets awarded Quote of the Day: “The Iowa caucuses are a two-step process: first comes the voting, then comes the spinning.”  I am confident Patterico commenters will do their share.  I would rather talk about the larger message from Iowa and beyond Iowa.

There is much anti-Iowa sentiment among political junkies at the moment, particularly on the right.  Jonah Goldberg makes a reasonable case that the state should not enjoy perpetual first position.  My experience with Iowa is consistent with his complaints about the entitlement mentality some — but by no means all — have there.  Nor is this the first cycle in which these sorts of complaints have been aired.

However, it is probably fair to say that much of the frustration about Iowa on the right is exacerbated by an underlying frustration with the projected outcome.  The underlying complaint is: How could these dopey corn and pig farmers be responsible for winnowing the GOP field to the likely troika of flip-flopping RINO Mitt Romney, unorganized compassionate religious conservative Rick Santorum, and conspiracy crank Ron Paul (the unacceptable to most Republicans libertarian who is unserious about the public debt)?  Surely, there must be more than three tickets out of Iowa this year (unless Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich makes an unlikely strong showing, in which case, awesome)!

But is Iowa really to blame for the late-starting, stumbling campaign of the seemingly inarticulate (and occasionally insulting) Rick Perry?  Is Iowa really to blame for the idiosyncratic, frequently unconservative, fundamentally pompous Newt Gingrich?  Or for the quality of any of tonight’s also-rans?  When compared to the national poll averages, only Newt is doing much better than he likely will tonight in Iowa — and the national trend is not his friend, either.  Is Iowa to blame for the never-rans? As Allahpundit tweeted last night, “There’s no reason to take Daniels, Ryan, Christie or any of them seriously anymore when they talk about America’s ‘grave challenges.’ ”  It is hard to imagine the Hamlets who could not be motivated to run in the current climate would have been any better than the candidates we have.

These problems are not the fault of Iowans or their caucuses.  These problems are the fault of the Republican establishment.  These problems are the fault of any Republican who is not actively involved in trying to reform the party.  These problems are the fault of libertarians who do not demand a better standard-bearer inside or outside the GOP.


Iowa Caucus Day (and beyond)

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:00 am

[Posted by Karl]

Long awaited. Much anticipated. Let’s get it over, already!

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum all have a chance to win, particularly where 41 percent could still be persuaded to support another candidate.  Who in Iowa could possibly be undecided after all this?  Sasha Issenberg explains.

Under the topline, the stories are Santorum’s momentum and the undercard — stories that are interrelated, as Santorum’s surge likely affects candidates like Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.  The traditional wisdom is that there are three tickets out of Iowa, but Santorum’s weaknesses outside Iowa and Paul’s reliance on Democrat and Independent support will likely keep Gingrich and Perry running for a while.

As with the other NotRomneys, Santorum’s current rise will bring more scrutiny to his campaign.  Philip Klein has a quick and critical primer on Santorum’s record.  Klein also argues that merely being to the right of Romney isn’t good enough, because Romney has the advantages of money, organization, establishment support and the perception of being the most electable.  Klein probabaly overstates his case. 

Although I am skeptical of new types of campaigning, one thing the Internet has changed is fundraising, so a lot of money can flow to Santorum quickly if he becomes the conservative alternative to Romney.  

Electablity is part ideology, but also a circular function of polling; if Santorum wins Iowa, he could win elsewhere and suddenly look more electable to people.  Santorum’s own electoral record is spotty, but winning and losing in a Bluish swing state like Pennsylvania may not look worse than winning and losing in Blue Massachusetts like Romney. 

As for establishment support, Santorum was a part of GOP leadership in the Senate (for better or worse, depending on point-of-view).  Romney was unable to attract a lot of the establishment until other alternatives were exhausted — they even hesitated to open their fat wallets when Gingrich was on the rise.  Thus, it’s not clear to me that the establishment would bend over backwards to fight Santorum in a protracted campaign.

Klein’s strongest point is Santorum’s general lack of organization.  In the medium term, the new money coming in and candidates dropping out would largely solve that problem.  After all, as the campaign spreads wider, it becomes more media than retail.  But Gingrich and Perry likely won’t drop out right away.  Indeed, if Perry managed to pass Gingrich in Iowa, he would likely be better equipped to fight on than Santorum (although Perry-affiliated Liz Mair notes that Newt increasingly seems like he could stay in just to attack Romney out of personal pique; see also Nate Silver).  Moreover, Santorum’s short-term mismatch of money to infrastructure could hurt him in key early states like South Carolina and Florida.

The Iowa horserace may be a photo finish, but whatever the order in Iowa — barring a surprise third-place finish by Perry or Gingrich — you know who this benefits.


Accepted Wisdom™ on How to Properly React to the Death of a Fetus or Infant

Filed under: Abortion,Accepted Wisdom,General,Scum — Patterico @ 12:22 am

(Accepted Wisdom™ is an occasional feature of this site, highlighting contradictory viewpoints held by the elite.)

It is Accepted Wisdom™ that:

If a woman decides to end her pregnancy, no matter how developed the fetus is, and no matter how frivolous the reasoning, that is her choice, dammit. If she decides to kill an 8-month-old fetus because the birth of the child might personally embarrass her, then how dare you criticize her, mister!

And at the same time:

If a family wants a child, and the baby is born but dies 2 hours into his young life — and the family chooses to bring the boy home to introduce the child to the rest of the family, then bwahahahahahaha. Pro-life freak. Let’s all point and laugh!

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