The voters in Iowa will go to the polls tomorrow night to render their long-sought after opinion on the Republican Presidential Primary. Actually, this isn't quite right. Caucus-goers will assemble throughout the state, all at the same time. Representatives of the campaigns will all make one last speech, and then the caucus-goers will cast their votes. Organization and ground game intensity are the keys to success. Iowa protects its "first in the nation" status with terrible determination, and neither party nor any serious candidate has or can criticize its outsize impact for fear of retribution.
Iowans like to believe they are "doing the job" for the rest of us. The retail style of politics, in which individual voters actually take offense if they haven't been able to personally meet each candidate, is held up as some sort of effective screen for the rest of us. Thanks, but no thanks.
The problem is, we're not all Iowans. For whatever reason, Iowans are both more liberal and more conservative than the parties they hold hostage. For months now, we've been treated to the spectacle of 8 or so candidates kissing the collective "arses" of Iowa voters, and going into tomorrow's primary--only one of the top three men in the polls has even a prayer of beating Barack Obama. Neither Ron Paul nor Rick Santorum can do so, and it remains highly questionable that either can even win the Republican nomination. I am on record as supporting the third candidate in contention, but clearly, there are others in the race FAR MORE likely to be threatening to President Obama than Paul or Santorum--Gingrich and Perry come to mind. Essentially, what Iowa represents is an opportunity for the fringe to define the party, and they seem very effective in seizing this opportunity. How can this be a good thing?
What do I recommend? The Republican Party should select four states, one in each of the US timezones--and conduct a January primary on the same day in each of the four states. This would 1) demonstrate the national electability of a candidate 2) mitigate the outsize influence of small, homogeneous states, and 3) cull the field early, as the ability to marshal resources necessary to compete in four states would be beyond those marginal candidates who can survive with an "everything in Iowa" strategy.
I have nothing against the State of Iowa or Iowans. I simply believe that we need to change the way we nominate the party Presidential candidate to a system that more closely approximates the conditions of a general election.