Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Caucus Results Explained

As anyone who watched the pundits on the cable news channels knows, the Iowa caucuses are not like other elections. The presidential nominating process is pretty complicated itself, but very few people other than pundits who have spent years analyzing them understand the Iowa caucuses. The winners of the Iowa caucuses are not decided by who comes in first but instead by a very complex mathematical formula that calculates the quantum spin of the vote, which can be pretty confusing to the layman. It has to be complicated to make it difficult for people to steal the election and more unlikely that voters will get angry and kill each other, the way they do other, less civilized countries where people understand what is going on. So in order to make the results of the Iowa caucuses a little easier for most people to understand, here are some simple explanations of who the real winners and losers were:


1) The big winner was John McCain. McCain came in a very strong fourth with a whopping 13% of the vote, which makes him the man to beat in New Hampshire. In fact, he might have won the entire election last night. By giving up his quixotic crusades for immigrants, campaign finance reform and the Geneva Conventions, making up with the Christian Right and taking money from the people he once criticized for "swift-boating" John Kerry, McCain has proven that he is a serious candidate for President, maybe the only serious candidate.

2) Mike Huckabee was the big loser. Although evangelical Christians are his base and they make up 60% of the Republican vote in Iowa, Huckabee only got 34% of the vote. It's clear that he is a fringe candidate and the Republican party establishment doesn't have to worry about him anymore.

3) Mitt Romney came in a weak second. If he comes in a weak second in New Hampshire or even a weak first, his campaign is finished. Romney's only hope now is to change his positions on a few of the issues to appeal to more voters.

4) Rudolph Giuliani lost the nomination when he decided not to compete in Iowa or New Hampshire, which is where the nomination is decided. Even if he wins in South Carolina or Florida, it will be too late. Unless, that is, there is a terrorist attack somewhere in the world -- then all bets are off. Even a small fire that would let Giuliani walk around holding a mask to his face looking very serious could turn his prospects around.

5) Someone named "Ron Paul" got 10% of the vote but was not featured in the pie chart of the vote counts on CNN, and is not listed as a participant in the upcoming Republican debate on Fox. I'm not sure who "Ron Paul" is, but it may be a name Iowans vote for when they want "None of the Above" the way "Alan Smithee" is a name directors use when they want their names taken off a film. Or he may be some sort of joke candidate like Stephen Colbert or Pat Paulsen. If "Ron Paul" is actually a real person, his supporters need to do a better job of publicizing him.

6) Fred Thompson came in third but nobody really cares, least of all Thompson himself.

7) We haven't heard the last of Alan Keyes.


1) The big winners were Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson. They were able to secure the cabinet posts they were running for if a Democrat wins the election by not making enemies of the front-runners. Biden and Dodd ran nearly flawless campaigns and got out before they did any damage to their future prospects. It remains to be seen if Richardson can get out before he damages himself but as long as he doesn't say very much in the next few weeks, he should be fine.

2) The other big winners were white voters and white members of the party establishment. By voting for Barack Obama, they were able to prove that they are not racist. The fact that Obama is young, charismatic, inspiring, a mesmerizing speaker, has fresh ideas and appeals across the partisan divide will make no difference in the general election where it is a well-known fact that the American people will be afraid to vote for a black man with a funny name who is inexperienced and might secretly be a Muslim. By letting him win this one, and giving us a historic moment that we can tell our grandchildren about, we can all feel better about ourselves. Of course, it would be too much of a risk to actually nominate him until sometime in the future when America is ready -- maybe in 2032 when he is only 70, a year younger than McCain is now.

3) By throwing both of his votes to Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich guaranteed that he will win the 2008 election for congressman from the 10th district of Ohio and sets himself up for a 2012 presidential run. Well played.

4) One big loser was John Edwards. By coming in a weak, you might even say girly, second, he proved that he doesn't have the heft and gravitas necessary to be President. Voters rejected his message of economic populism in a year when voters are bored by such issues as health insurance, home mortgages, and job security and the election is going to turn instead on foreign policy and national security. The fact that he not only had the most substantive reaction to Benazir Bhutto's assassination but actually spoke to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, or "the General" as President Bush affectionately called him when he was running for President, made no difference to voters who aren't even sure where Pakistan is. Most voters were probably thinking of the haircut. His only chance to win the nomination now would be to shave his head like Britney Spears.

5) The biggest loser of all was Hillary Clinton. If she can't win in Iowa, where can she win? In every contested race since 1972 (Bill Clinton ran unopposed in 1996), the winner of the Iowa caucuses for the Democrats has gone on to be elected President, except for 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2004 when the winner did not go on to be elected President. Iowans have an uncanny ability to predict which Democrat can win in the general election, which means Hillary's campaign may be doomed. Look for members of the party establishment to start looking for another candidate, maybe even going outside the party to someone like McCain who could win both the Republican and Democrat nominations and run on a unity ticket with Mike Bloomberg or Joe Lieberman as his vice president, sparing voters the burden of having to make a hard choice in November. David Broder and his friends are already ecstatic at the prospect.

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OutOfContext said...

Does 'President' really matter anymore? Put "/Cheney '08" behind any of those names and you got my vote.
Also, I believe Ron Paul is heir to the fish stick fortune. And, at one point, half of the Beatles.

Johnny Pez said...

A brilliant analysis, as always.

I'd like to take this opportunity to note my own suspiciously, erm, astonishingly accurate predictions of the results of the Iowa caucuses.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, instead of your usual satire that reads like straight commentary, you've managed straight commentary that reads like satire!

Anonymous said...

Off to a quick start, Jon. I think this is the best blog post of 2008. ( NO! Best blog post of 2008, SO FAR! ) I had a little different take on what happened last night which proves you 100% wrong tho.

Forget religion, taxes, national security, and all that other stuff, this election's all about age.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Jon, your take is a prediction of coming events based on some historical patterns and personal intent of participants in this race.

Americans not electing a Black man I can agree with. McCain being a common candidate is stretching it a bit, don't you think?

The math analysis by Moonage is intriguing and also bears watching.I also agree that your piece is the best blog post of 2008 so far. Hats off to you! --Durano, done!

Unknown said...

So are RuPaul and Ron Paul different men and/or women? Who's Roo Paul then?

Save the Oocytes! said...

I can't believe you said all that stupid shit about Obama. Christ... Well, at least you're not this guy.

Marshka said...

A real interesting commentary, Jon, here in France I was just amazed by the results of Iowa, but it was without really knowing the composition of this state's electorate. My biggest surprise is about Giulani not competing at all in the two states : is he so self-confident ???? strange. thanks for the insight !

James Stripes said...

"The other big winners were white voters and white members of the party establishment. By voting for Barack Obama, they were able to prove that they are not racist."

This logic would hold only if he had won the Republican vote. By voting for Huckabee, those Iowa voters proved they will support a religious bigot, and perhaps a racial one as well. However, as you point out 34% is much less than 60%, so maybe the Republicans proved something there.

Moreover, if we look at the perceptive discussions of racism by Dinesh D'Souza (The End of Racism, 1995) and his lackeys, we might wonder if Iowa Democrats proved that they are racists by voting for a Black man. By putting him in the lead, Iowa Democrats assure us that race will become an issue when Republicans get to vote against their candidate: this is racism.

Anonymous said...

You are so misguided. A good writer for sure...but very misguided.....good luck.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct, as usual, particularly on Edwards' very sad showing. You might have mentioned that, for once, mainstream media like the Washington Post and the New York Times got it right by barely mentioning Edwards in their extensive coverage. Why waste space on someone who obviously has no message or broad appeal? But just wait until his next haircut.

Carl said...

This is Iowa, sir, so all liberals have proven is they hate their wives more than the brown-skinned pump jockey at the local Gas 'n Go...

Anonymous said...

McCain, really? For some reason I just don't think that's the case. Besides, if McCain wins New Hampshire that will most likely mean Hillary does too.

Join the effort to Draft Mike Bloomberg for President before it's too late

James Higham said...

Now that has to be one of the most unusual analyses I've read today. Had a great chuckle but what if you turn out to be correct?

mw said...

Sorry, Jon - Good effort, but Moonage has the Iowa analysis nailed. Of course this comes as no surprise to those of us who were paying attention to Obama's February 2007 Announcement to run for Vice-President where he made this preemptive strike on the baby boomer generarion:

"It is time to rip the reins of power from the hands of the Boomer generation! I ask you, what have the boomers given to this country? Two Presidents, that is what they have given us. Bill Clinton and George W Bush. The first impeached president since Andrew Johnson and the worst president in history. That is what they have given us and that is more than enough. This was the best the boomers had to offer this great country of ours. These are the representatives of their generation that they sent to lead us. My friends, my fellow Americans, we cannot risk another Boomer President! It is time to move on. It is time for a new generation of leadership." - Barack Obama - February 2007

Unknown said...

Once again I am dazzled by your brilliant analysis. It is amazing how you are able to cut through the hype and spin and come up with clear winners and losers. But I am confused about your comments on Romney. Which issues does he have left to change positions on? Should he just change back to his previous positions? Or should he try to create new issues that he can change positions on?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Swift

I totally agree with your analysis. John McCain's fourth place finish is definitely a victory by any standards. All the other pundits think so too. He's just what the country needs. Another war criminal as president. Go John!

Davecore said...

Ron Paul is a real person. He is a 10 term congressmen from the 14th district in Texas who has raised $20 million in the fourth quarter, which is more money than any other republican candidate. This number even rivals democrat Hillary Clinton. Also, on the day of the Iowa caucus Myspace held the first online presidential primary, and he was the clear republican winner. The only reason you don't know who he is is because either you don't watch the debates or didn't bother to Google him. It's hard for someone with his views to get main stream news coverage, but his supporters do everything they can to get his message out.

Here are links to his YouTube channel and website:


Anonymous said...

Davecore, you're not fooling anyone. You claim that Ron Paul is a real person, but then can't even give a link to his alleged website. Yeah, right. I think if Ron Paul was a real person, we would have heard about him by now. He would at least have a website.

moondancer said...

I would like to congratulate president-elect McCain. It was a hard fought campaign, but once Tweety gives his imprimatur, the parties over. I anxiously await the concession speeches to be run on some channel that nobody watches.

BurningFeet said...

What about Duncan Hunter? No mention! Obvious bias. Don't tell me you haven't heard of Duncan Hunter? The cake guy, OK? What is this, Iowa?

Skewered Left bicyclist addict said...

Please delete previous comments, for some reason half of my comments didn't come through and the link ended up at the wrong site.

Now I know how whats his name must feel,that Paul guy.

Dave Latchaw said...

Dr. Congressman Ron Paul does not need a website. He has a blimp. Think about it - thousands at a time can view the blimp, but how many could crowd around a computer monitor to look at a website?

Anonymous said...

So 4th place is a win, 1st place is a loss, black is white, and white is black. Also, we have always been at war with Eastasia- er, Eurasia.

For someone who claims not to follow the media, your McCain vibe is EXACTLY what is being said by all the "liberal" pundits, who first predicted that a third place finish of 15% or more would be a great result, and than afterwards that a fourth place finish with a 13% total was a solid win. Sorry, in the reality-based community, first is first, fourth is a loser, and McCain, Swift, and the Coporate Media are obviously in bed together.

Jill said...

That's it. with this post you have firmly put yourself in the Blogger Mount Olympus™, right next to our beloved Driftglass.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the brilliant distillation of bobblehead thinking.

Michael said...

A very interesting analysis, but you forgot who the big winner was in Iowa. A little candidate named Change

bitchphd said...

You know, I thought the post was damn funny, but then I read the comments.

Please marry me, Jon.

Unknown said...

7) We haven't heard the last of Alan Keyes.

[involuntary shudder]

Unknown said...

who's roo paul then?

he's my cousin.

Celeste Winant said...

um, dude. Obama is not a Muslim. Who started this dumb story in the first place? Anyone who spreads it is dumb, too.

Anonymous said...

I can back up davecore; Ron Paul is indeed a real person. I know this because he was the first, and probably the last, presidential candidate to campaign in Wyoming. (Wyoming, for those of you who don't know, is the capital of Montana.)

I liked Mr. Paul. He was open about his plan to have the whole country move towards a Wyoming style of government. That is, the law stays out of the way and people settle things by running over one another with their pick-up trucks.

I was however, concerned about Mr. Paul's distaste for war. But outofcontext has put my mind to rest. Who needs nukes if our President controls the world supply of mercury-laden fishsticks.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you guys don't know who Ron Paul is. That post about him is pure BS, do one google for Ron Paul and you'll see who he is. It's called a media blackout on the only candidate who worth giving a shit over.

Anonymous said...

Who is Ron Paul? Why, Ron Paul is RuPaul's little sister.

bend said...

God damnit, I love reading the comments on this blog.

Jon, a truly superb way to bring in the new year.

Anonymous said...

As for Ron Paul, I'm not sure why we should care about a guy who can't even come up with a last name.

liquiddaddy said...

Mr. Swift,

I'd say the biggest winner was Charles Manson, what with all the predicted race wars, and all.

I'm not sure whether they start because Osama wins or loses, depending on who does the predicting.


Michael said...

Best blog post of 2008? This may well be the best blog post of ALL TIME. I don't actually normally laugh out loud -- but this time I did. A lot.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that Ron Paul is the brother of the late Pope John Paul II. I worry about the ties between our government and the Vatican being too strong if his Holiness' little brother is elected.

Anonymous said...

You're obviously not as much of an internet guy as you seem to be if you've never heard of Ron Paul. Crappy mainstream media won't say much about him, but read forums (by people who actually know something), check out his site and look at the money he's raised and you'll be surprised. He says it like it is and doesn't care who tries to b.s. him out of it.

Anonymous said...

You have to be stupid to not know who Ron Paul is. Or maybe your just saying that to get more comments on your blog. If you really cared about your vote, you would research every candidate before you voted. Since you probably won't let me just say Ron Paul is the only candidate that doesn't Flip-Flip. He NEVER did, and he has a 20 year history. He NEVER will. He is a very intelligent man, and sticks to what he believes. Not what the lobbyists tell you.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. I about cried I was laughing so hard. I completely agree.

I added you to my blogroll, and would love to swap with you.

Anonymous said...

. . .do one google for Ron Paul and you'll see who he is.

Is this a joke? I don't get it. I just checked my dictionary, and "google" isn't even a word. (It has "googol," which means 10^100, but that doesn't seem relevant.) And how can I do a "google" (whatever that means) for him if I don't even know who he is? This is like the joke where you send someone to look for a snipe, or a left-handed spanner, right? I follow the news pretty closely, and I've never heard of this Paul Ron fellow.

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Porlock Junior said...

Yojimbo has it right about that Paul guy who can't even manage a last name. My father, the eminent scholar Franklin Porlock, always told me that the most distinguished, trustworthy gentlemen have two last names. Like Harrison Salisbury. Doesn't the very sound of it inspire respect?

Anonymous said...

Hilarious analysis. Way to see through the smokescreens to the awful truth :)

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Great blog! I have bookmarked it and plan on sharing with my friends later.
Forget religion, taxes, national security, and all that other stuff, this election's all about age.

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