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Iowa caucus is season opener, not the Big Game

Iowa caucus is season opener, not the Big Game

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a "Canvass Launch" event in the Memorial Union on Jan. 31, a day before the first caucus of the presidential race. Max Goldberg | Iowa State Daily

Iowa caucus is season opener, not the Big Game
February 04
03:53 2016

The Editorial Board

Every four years the eyes of the nation descend upon the Hawkeye State as its residents clamor to town hall meetings for the first night of the election with any consequence: the Iowa caucus.

It is the first true polling event of a long, grueling campaign season where the nation turns on its television set (or fires up poll results online) in collective fascination, and the buzz that precedes it is aligned much with that of the opening day of baseball. It’s the start of something new.

Ultimately, Iowa is not representative of who is going to take oath next January and swear in as the next president. Bill Clinton took in 2.8 percent of the vote in Iowa in 1992, and at this time in 2012, Rick Santorum led polls with 24.6 percent. The former went on to not only win the general election, but then re-election four years later unopposed, while the latter has just announced the suspension of his second bid for the White House, endorsing Marco Rubio in his concession. Iowa, in retrospect, means nothing.

Although you’d never know this, seeing as candidates often begin their campaigning in Iowa over a year in advance, and fundraising efforts are exponentially higher than states that come later in the list of primaries. Sorry, Wyoming.

Part of the attraction to Iowa stems from the lesser-known system that is a caucus, where citizens are able to speak with other voters to sway or be swayed on candidates and their ability to lead their respective parties. Many of those who attend admit they are open to having their minds changed, adding to the allure of gung-ho voters looking to collect said voters in support of their choice candidate. Only 13 states observe the caucus, and its rarity adds to its allure stacked up against the “show-up-and-vote” nature surrounding a primary.

Iowa, tucked neatly in the Midwest, is also not representative of the U.S. as a whole; over 91 percent of its population is white. Minority voters are almost entirely discounted in this tally, and New Hampshire, whose primary is up next, is not much better.

The 2016 election has been interesting to say the least, and though the results of this week’s caucus will most likely prove inconsequential in the scope of things, they were not without surprise. Apart from the near-tie between the Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders being settled by six consecutive coin tosses (all heads, in favor of Clinton), Donald Trump, who was favored by most polls going into Tuesday night, was upset by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Now that former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has suspended his campaign, the Democratic race will prove to heat up as only two remain with the field still proportionately even among them. Across the isle, Ted Cruz’s win has whittled down the overpopulated field of candidates and is sure to seize him loads of funding. It is important to note that not only has Donald Trump spent only a fraction of the other candidates, 49 states remain before nomination.

Two things can be said from this point with relative degrees of certainty. One, every coin toss is controversial and a stupid way of deciding something. Two, it’s a long road to Washington for both sides. Good game, Iowa, now let’s get things going.

Featured Image: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a “Canvas Launch” event in the Memorial Union on Jan. 31, a day before the first caucus of the presidential race. Max Goldberg | Iowa State Daily

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