New Iowa poll reminds us that politics is a funny game

Ha ha ha. They say baseball is a funny game. Consider politics. Consider the pundits’ constant efforts to get ahead of the story and how often they outsmart themselves. Consider specifically the latest American Research Group poll of likely Iowa caucus attendees.  It has the race:

  • Romney: 21
  • Bachmann: 15
  • Perry: 14.
  • Ron Paul: 12.
  • Everyone else: Single digits.

Iowa (and let’s pause for a moment to say an extra ha ha for the absurdly huge role that our “system” quadrennially assigns to the Iowa caucuses) was supposed to be Romney’s big problem. He wasted a lot of time, money and prestige campaigning there in 2008, only to lose badly to the Rev. Mike Huckabee. Lesson learned: Iowa is a state for the darlings of the religious right. Not you, Mitt. So Romney settled on a 2012 strategy of basically skipping Iowa and making his big statement in the New Hampshire primary (an extra ha ha ha for the absurdity of the role we assign to that one).

A few months ago, Michele Bachmann (the then-darling of the religious right who put most of her eggs into the Iowa basket and is now being dismissed by the geniuses as a one-state candidate, and maybe not even one state) was clobbering poor Tim Pawlenty so badly in the polls, and then in the colossally important “straw poll” at the Iowa State Fair, that she drove TPaw from the race and was briefly designated as a top-tier candidate by the commentariat.

Then comes Tex. Gov. Rick Perry, the flavor of the month from mid-August to mid-September. He’s the new darling of the religious right and is suddenly shooting past Bachmann in the Iowa polls and past Romney in the national polls until the Tea Partyists start to learn that he’s got some funny ideas about the children of illegal immigrants and border fences and vaccines and a few other things. Oops.

Romney still isn’t exactly sinking roots in Iowa (which, according to legend, is a state where you can’t get no respect unless you go county-by-county, door-to-door) but suddenly the field is full of darlings of the religious right and darlings of the Tea Party and (with poor Tim Pawlenty gone) and no one else other than Jon Huntsman (who is apparently the darling of the news media but no one else and is now on the verge of being excluded from future debates based on his terrible poll numbers) seeking the support of older-fashioned business conservatives, we suddenly find Romney leading a poll in Iowa, although 21 percent, when you think about it, isn’t really all that big a number.

What does this tell us about what will happen next? I’ll tell you when it happens.

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Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/29/2011 - 07:46 am.

    It must be time for “electability” to enter the conversation.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2011 - 09:35 am.

    I’ve got to say I’m really liking the new, post Hopey/Changey Eric Black.

    Gone the pretentious airs…thoughtful and contemplative deliberation replaced with naked distain; yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Shame, though, that those dumb, religious, rubes in Iowa probably wouldn’t even notice when a scary smart, reality based writer throws poo at them since they’re already standing knee deep in it out in them fields.

  3. Submitted by James Blum on 09/29/2011 - 01:29 pm.

    Thanks, Eric, for following this stuff on our behalf – most of us can’t stand the stink. It’s interesting that Romney is now atop the Iowa list of candidates; apparently the fickle Iowegians (from whom I descend) love you when you ignore them. Poor Rep. Bachmann has been practically camping out there, yet has fallen in the polls? I half-expect the Bachmanns to move to Des Moines at some point in early 2012 (though even if they maintained their residence in MN, how would you know it?).

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/29/2011 - 01:54 pm.

    I like the message that Eric Black conveys, but I dislike the flippant, cloying style of his writing. It’s like chatting on IRC with a basement-dwelling teen. Yes, IRC still exists.

    Anyway. Regarding Mittens…why hasn’t anyone pointed out all that he’s accomplished in the last five years? Like, running for president for five years. And that he’s “spent his life” in the private sector — except for the four years he spent as governor, in the pubic sector.

    And finally. He drones on about Romneycare, and how it works in for his state, but may not work for other states. I don’t get it — do people in Texas or Oregon or Georgia have three arms? Do they have two noses? What makes people in those states so different that Romneycare (or Obamacare) wouldn’t work? No one raises that question, least of all the stupid debate “moderators.”

  5. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/29/2011 - 06:10 pm.

    Poor bitter Mr. Swift…

    Perhaps you could draw another smutty cartoon of Eric to illustrate your naked disdain, Swiftee?

  6. Submitted by Paul Scott on 09/30/2011 - 09:32 am.

    I believe the word you were thinking of is distain, Mr. Gleason.

  7. Submitted by Ross Williams on 09/30/2011 - 11:04 am.

    It isn’t politics, its the media that is engaged in a “funny game”. Neither Bachman nor Perry ever stood a chance of winning the nomination any more than Ron Paul does. Paul finished a very close second to Bachman in Iowa and the media ignored it. The difference is that the first two have the image of celebrity that makes for good media.

    Sarah Palin has things right. Our political process is just another reality TV show. And we, as the audience, are supposed to engage in “the willing suspension of disbelief” in order to be entertained.

    My guess is that eventually, Palin will need to get into the fray to hold her audience. But she is going to avoid the mistake of catching the wave too soon. She wants to still be around for the final act. Or at least with a sequel on the horizon.

  8. Submitted by Barbara Miller on 09/30/2011 - 11:34 am.

    Actually, I believe the word Mr. Gleason is thinking of is “disdain,” since that’s a real word.

  9. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/30/2011 - 12:13 pm.

    Right, Paul. Thanks.

    Too bad you can’t edit your comments, but I can see where that might lead to problems.

  10. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/30/2011 - 12:17 pm.

    Barbara, is of course right.

    But I did want to use the same word that Mr. Swift had. I should have quoted him.

    It is nice to post on a site where most of the commenters are intelligent.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/30/2011 - 12:28 pm.

    Professor, far from bitter, my interactions with Eric are always highly entertaining, sometimes informative and my references to him have never included “smut”; written, verbally, pictorally or otherwise; here or anywhere else.

    So, just what the heck are you talking about…daydreaming again?

  12. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/30/2011 - 06:24 pm.

    I submitted a comment with a link to your smutty cartoon of Mr. Swift.

    Apparently this didn’t pass muster with the comment police.

    That’s OK, though. You are having an attack of amnesia. To recover, Google:

    Examples of Swiftee’s artwork


    You’re welcome.

  13. Submitted by will lynott on 09/30/2011 - 07:14 pm.

    “It is nice to post on a site where most of the commenters are intelligent.”

    Yes. Most of us are members of the “scary smart, reality based community.” Others are not.

  14. Submitted by will lynott on 09/30/2011 - 07:21 pm.

    Eric, I wouldn’t place a lot of weight on that poll. She’s still second, and 15% is the lowest she’s polled in Iowa since shortly after she entered the race.

    Trust me–she’s toast, and I can’t wait for her explanation that God and Marcus decided it was more important for her to spend more time with her family. Although, I suppose it’s remotely possible that she’ll go the Rod Grams route and pig-headedly refuse to concede that she’s lost. Time will tell….

  15. Submitted by will lynott on 09/30/2011 - 07:52 pm.

    Uh oh. Busted….

  16. Submitted by Tommy Johnson on 09/30/2011 - 07:57 pm.

    re: #’s 11 &2 – and yet once again, Mr. Swift demonstrates why reasonable people have no reason to believe anything he says.

  17. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/03/2011 - 01:32 pm.

    Don’t think that Swift’s ‘artwork’ shows enough talent to be called smutty; his attempts to evade the question of his higher education demonstrate more illiteracy than anything else. I would hope the UCD had higher standards.

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