Posted by: SWL | January 2, 2012

Hey, News Media: Iowa Caucus Does Not Decide Republican Nominee

I will be so glad when the Iowa Caucus is over tomorrow night. With Congress on break, the only thing the political news shows have to talk about is the caucus. Every show has a panel of “experts” who are asked which candidate they think will win.

The answers to that question have changed over the past 3 weeks. And each of the current top three candidates has received the vote of at least one political analyst in the past 4 days. Comments sound something like this:
– Of course, Mitt Romney will win New Hampshire. If he also wins Iowa, he’s got the nomination.
– If Romney is second in Iowa, he’ll need South Carolina after New Hampshire to win the nomination.
– Ron Paul could easily take Iowa, but won’t get the nomination.
– If Newt Gingrich manages to be third in Iowa, he has a good chance to win South Carolina.
– Rick Santorum is coming on strong in Iowa, but can he make a good showing in South Carolina?

I wonder if the news media understand that this constant speculation itself has an effect? The race for the Republican presidential nomination will not be decided after just three states. But media comments – many biased – have an effect on some voters.

The media have access to all the statistics concerning the 2008 primary races. But they seem to need to be reminded that the eventual 2008 Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, did not win the Iowa Caucus. Neither, for that matter, did Mitt Romney. It was Governor Mike Huckabee, who later dropped out of the race. (Neither did Ronald Reagan win Iowa the year he was elected President.) So maybe reporters and anchors should save questions about who will win for a later date. And the political analysts should resist the urge to give definitive answers. They could gain some fame for predicting correctly, but most likely they will be wrong. Given that the analysts cannot agree right now, voters probably won’t either. We will almost certainly have to wait until spring to find out who will run against President Obama.



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