Luckily, no one is making an issue of the eight-vote (unrecounted) margin by which Mitt Romney outpolled Rick Santorum in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night. That would just be too stupid. I stayed up late watching the results trickle in only because I am an addict, because MinnPost pays me the big bucks to watch TV far into the night, and because I was in a pool with some friends to predict the result and I was the only one who picked Santorum to finish first.
But to tack back to my unhinged diatribe of Tuesday morning about the Iowa-first nonsense, here’s one more fact. Just 122,255 Iowans voted in the repub caucuses. I mentioned in my Tuesday rant that this was a ridiculously tiny portion of U.S. eligible voters, but as the HuffPost emphasizes, it’s also only 5.4 percent of eligible Iowa voters. (Of course, the number would be higher if there had been a contested nomination on the Dem side, but it would still be a number that it would be a blow against one of the many silly defenses of the Iowa-first tradition, namely that Iowans take their assignment so seriously. Not so much.
Anyway, to repeat, this is not the main argument against the Iowa-New Hampshire duopoly on going first. The main argument is simply that no state should get whatever political/economic/prestige/attention/self-esteem benefits come with the honor of going first. That honor should rotate.
One last thought that makes my head hurt. People who write about this issue usually note that Iowa and New Hampshire have both guaranteed that they will always go first, no matter how early they have to go to be first, because each of those states has passed a law asserting that if any state tries to get ahead of them, they will move up their date to retain their firstness.
Surely, Shirley, I’m not the first one to think of this, but what would happen if two more states (or more!) passed identical laws so that as soon as Iowa’s we-move-ours-up-to-stay-first law kicked in and issued a new, even earlier date, the other state’s we-move-ours-up-to-stay-first would kick in and…and…the time-space-Iowa continuum would be imperiled.