What happens in Iowa stays in Iowa

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What happens in Iowa stays in Iowa

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The caucus system has a poor track record for selecting successful candidates

The attention devoted to the Iowa caucus has been inversely proportional to its importance in the presidential nominating process. This is partly a function of the media’s obsession with the horse-race aspect of American politics, which favours that day’s latest poll numbers and micro-developments over analysis of substantive issues and the broader campaign narrative. But the caucus has a mediocre record in actually selecting candidates. Recall that in 2008, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (remember him?) won the contest and in 1988 televangelist Pat Robertson defeated then-Vice President (and future president) George HW Bush. The caucus system itself is something of a scandal; it is not a secret ballot but rather a uniquely Midwestern shaming ritual in which citizens must spend hours on end “caucusing” among themselves until, via a process of elimination, they have decided upon a

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Jamie Kirchick

James Kirchick is a contributing editor of The New Republic 

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