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January 2, 2008


Fuck Iowa

Iowa caucuses

Tomorrow are the Iowa caucuses, in which a tiny percentage of people who live in a tiny state get together to have more influence on who our next president is than anyone else in the country.

Do you know how ridiculous the Iowa caucuses are? You can read all about the crazy process of participating in a caucus on Wikipedia, but one thing you should know is that ties between two candidates at a particular caucus can be settled by literally pulling a name out of a hat.

In the Times today, Joe Trippi disputes today's poll results that predict an Obama win, because he says "You’d have to have 220,000 people voting for that poll to be right. If that’s what’s going on, there’s no historic model for it."

What he's saying is that it's unrealistic to expect that 220,000 people in the whole state of Iowa are going to vote in a caucus, out of a population of 3 million. That's less than 10%! This absurdly small group of caucus participants, which realistically might be 150,000, or 1/20 of 1% of the US population, influence the outcome of every other state's primary. And as of today, one day before the caucuses, a quarter of likely caucus participants still hadn't figured out who they were going to vote for.

The Times also points out today that a whole lot of people who are legal Iowa residents won't be able to caucus, because instead of letting people actually vote on their own at any time the polls are open on primary day, they have to attend a local caucus at a set time:

Because the caucuses, held in the early evening, do not allow absentee voting, they tend to leave out nearly entire categories of voters: the infirm, soldiers on active duty, medical personnel who cannot leave their patients, parents who do not have baby sitters, restaurant employees on the dinner shift, and many others who work in retail, at gas stations and in other jobs that require evening duty.

As loathsome as Giuliani is, I kind of hope his strategy of ignoring goddamn Iowa so he can pay attention to states with bigger populations, more democratic one-person one-vote primaries, and a higher percentage of people who actually vote in them, works out for him.

Next week: Fuck New Hampshire. Which at least offers actual individual voting in its primary, but like Iowa has ridiculously disproportionate political power. Let's all just vote for the candidate we like the best, and ignore what happens over the next week in these little states.

categories: Politics
posted by amy at 5:35 PM | #

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ok, your outrage is noted. however, let's not stop with Iowa, shall we?

Iowa is no more ridiculous than the electoral system at large, which chooses a president using only 13 or so "battleground" states, thanks to the winner-takes-all principle.

additionally, we get somewhere around a 50% turnout in general elections. which 50%? the 50% that buy into the system and its structure of illusions. i.e., the smart people stay home.

next we have the voting process. i don't need to blather on about the accuracy of vote counting, do i?

and finally, we have the individual free will of whoever gets "elected." nothing guarantees that the person will do any of what they promised while pandering to the idiots and the press.

in the end, Iowa doesn't deserve your outrage. at least the process forces the candidates to be exposed - to scrutiny and to inclement weather. that's at least partially gratifying to see.

it started as joke to tell to friends who ask me why i don't vote, but now its gaining strength as a serious idea in my noggin - that it would be more fair, and more "representative" to just select politicians based on public opinion polls. the "margin for error" is probably a lot lower than that of our absurd electoral process!

Posted by: thebonobo at January 3, 2008 1:16 PM

I agree with you. As some intermediate steps, I propose:
1. National primaries, all on the same day.
2. Abolish the electoral college.
3. Paper ballots only (like in the UK).

Iowa is a pretty egregious example of all that is wrong with the system.

Posted by: cushie at January 4, 2008 2:48 PM

Oh my god, why didn't I discover this blog sooner???

A reader of mine recommended you to me here:


Apparently, we share the same love of the word "fuck."

Posted by: decorno at January 7, 2008 11:25 PM

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