Lessons from the Iowa Caucuses
The Iowa Caucuses have come and gone, and through all the ups and downs of a volatile and fluid race we learned 4 key things about Iowa and the rest of the race to evict Barack Obama from the White House.
A Campaign Cannot Rise Above its Candidate
I’ve been saying that for years, and it was proven in these Caucuses. Ron Paul’s campaign is one of the best political organizations I’ve ever seen in Iowa, but in the end it couldn’t overcome the fact the American people don’t elect nerds to alpha male positions. Forget his quirky ideology, Paul just doesn’t have the stage presence and charisma required to be captain of the football team, let alone President of the United States. Perhaps one day his more affable son Rand will be able to compensate for his father’s shortcomings and come across as less crazy, cranky, and more inspiring.
A Campaign Can Kill its Candidate
Just ask Bachmann and Perry. From the moment she won the Straw Poll until the very end Bachmann’s campaign substituted the woman of substance and convictions she’s been as a Congresswoman for a clichéd driven Sarah Palin wannabe. Rarely did Iowans see publicly the woman of chutzpah and conviction I saw privately. The only time that came out was in the debates when Bachmann was on her own without handlers, and letting it rip. That’s no coincidence.
Likewise, Perry’s campaign started off on a suicide mission by distancing their candidate from his book Fed Up, which should’ve been the book that propelled Perry to the nomination, but instead they tried to run from it. Following that was a string of disastrous debate performances and gaffes that in fairness no campaign could overcome.
The Establishment Never Breaks Ranks
Even though Mitt Romney did everything he could to discredit the Iowa Caucus process for the past two years, the Republican Party establishment that represents 25% of the GOP vote in Iowa (and across the country) rewarded him with every ounce of their hackneyed support, even if it meant totally invalidating the Iowa Caucuses in particular and harming the country in general. Romney only got 66 more votes than he got in Iowa four years ago, which tells you it’s basically the exact same people voting for him no matter how many more times he lies, or how many more issues he flip-flops on. The establishment never breaks ranks. This is Romney’s base of support, and since it’s not wavering until some conservatives around the country decide to put high school cliques aside and do what’s best for the country, you’re going to see Romney continue to divide and conquer the conservatives and we will get fooled again. Someone should write a book about that.
Iowa is the Winnower—South Carolina/Florida the Determiner
Yet again my home state doesn’t decide who the nominee is, but it decides who it won’t be. Bachmann announced this morning she’s gracefully bowing out, showing more class and nobility than Perry—proving yet again the most destructive force on the planet is the fragile male ego. Perry has no substantive base of support anywhere other than conservative consultants who need jobs and can’t get hired by Santorum, who doesn’t have the money to provide them an income. He spent over $300/vote in Iowa, by far the most in the race with the lowest rate of return. He’s in even worse shape than Fred Thompson was four years ago when he played spoiler for his RINO buddy John McCain. Remember when Perry was brought into the race to save us from Romney? The longer he stays in, the more he will actually help Romney.
This brings us to South Carolina and Florida—the two states that will likely determine the nominee when it’s all said and done (and where we have three-hour affiliates on AM 660 in Greenville and AM 1600 in Jacksonville each weeknight).
Gingrich is far better organized and clearly polling better among the conservatives in those two states, but Santorum obviously has momentum now. No Republican has ever won the nomination without winning the South Carolina primary and its coming up quickly on the 21st. Florida is right after that on the 31st.
That doesn’t give the anemically-funded Santorum much of a chance to gain ground unless the national pro-family/pro-life movement does for him what Vander Plaats did for him in Iowa (and what they didn’t do for Huckabee). Barring that, I think all of us – whether we voted for Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich or Santorum – agree that every effort must now be made to stop Romney from doing to us in 2012 what fellow RINO McCain did to us in 2008.
Letting it happen again, with so much momentum coming off the rise of the Tea Party and the gains of 2010, would be even worse. To revert back to form by letting the milquetoast establishment beat us again for this nomination at a time when the country is truly ready to fire an incompetent liberal president, would be a missed opportunity the future for our children and grandchildren may never recover from.