Monday, July 6, 2015

Iowa's Over!

The only good thing that can be said about today in American politics is that the lame, useless Iowa caucus process is over.

Iowa's Over!

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In searching for some uplifting take-away from last night's Iowa caucus results about the only thing remotely cheering is that, praise the Lord and pass the corn, it is over.

The run-up, the coverage, the post-vote analysis was and is dizzying in its volume and an excellent example of what's wrong with the 24-hour national news machine.

I understand that broadcast political coverage, like broadcast debates, is about entertainment more than news. I understand that the selection process for president mirrors TV reality shows. But it seems to me that journalists (at all levels) who preach the gospel of truth-seeking ought to spend more time practicing what they preach.

For example: the "winners" in Iowa, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, each got fewer votes than the population of Elk County in northwestern Pennsylvania; each got less than 25 percent of the total vote of 122,525 -- roughly, the number of people living in a Philadelphia neighorhood.

And this outcome is described as "stunning" and "jaw-dropping," especially as relates to Santorum. And it is presented as if this changes the race for the nomination.

The truth is this: there was never any doubt that Romney would be the GOP nominee. Republicans always pick the obvious guy: Bush, Dole, Bush, McCain. It is not a party that pushes the envelope.

The Santorum Iowa "surge" is a result of his hard on-the-ground work in a state where conservative, family-value voters prefer his faith-based worldview. It's a result of the fact he has been ignored until now and therefore free from attacks from opponents. And it is a result of the fact conservative evangelical Republicans don't like Romney, a Mormon.

The truth is Santorum's last election before Iowa resulted in Pennsylvania voters rejecting him by 17 percentage points, a blow-out in a state far more representative of America than Iowa. Santorum, in any race involving a diverse sample of voters, cannot win.

So. Romney=nominee. Santorum=done. Over-hyped Iowa caucus=over.

Grrr.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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