Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: The Iowa GOP, Stuck on Its Caucuses

Posted at 11:10 am, April 20th, 2012
Herb Strentz Mug

How appropriate!

The Iowa Republican Party is among those finding a way to celebrate the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. Yes, the Grand Old Party is hard at work — re-arranging the deck chairs of the Iowa caucus.

A committee and three sub-committees want to fashion a guarantee — not that the caucus is freed from the death grip of the religious right, but that when a winner is announced that person is the bona fide choice of the evangelicals.

You may recall back in January that quite a stir was created when Mitt Romney was announced the winner of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses by eight votes — only to have a sort of recount declare about two weeks later that, oops, the real winner by 34 votes was Rick Santorum (29,839 to 29,805).

The fact that the 2012 Iowa caucus could have been accurately been reported as either “too close to call” or “too close to be definitive as to a winner and a loser” satisfied neither the press nor the evangelical crowd.

So the Iowa GOP has a committee and subcommittees to look at ways to improve media relations, to better tabulate and track each vote and to train precinct workers so the vote in 2016 is accurate and timely. The mechanics are what dominates discussion now, not issues and not providing Iowa or the nation the option of supporting a candidate who say, for openers, would allow evolution to be included in high school textbooks.

Not on the GOP or press agenda is how to open up the caucuses so that someone who doesn’t say he or she is “called by God” has an opportunity to talk to the folks in the heartland about, oh, the economy, undeclared wars, civil rights and other issues not on the radar of today’s Iowa GOP.

So there’s no reason to expect that the 2016 caucus will be any different from 2012. After all, in anticipation of either a November re-election victory by President Barack Obama or a victory for Romney (who then does not deliver on the evangelical agenda) is reason enough for the Iowa GOP to want rearrange the deck chairs to protect the clout of the religious right in 2016.

If it even comes to that. The fear is that because of the vote-counting mix-up Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status is threatened.

In a few weeks, the Iowa GOP hopes to convince the national party and the news media that it has mastered the intricacies of accurately counting and then correctly adding and transmitting the vote totals from more than 1,700 precincts across the state on caucus night — all in a few minutes so the national press can breathlessly report the first tallies of that year’s presidential election.

The image of the excited crowd in Southampton, waving goodbye to the Titanic comes to mind.

How appropriate!

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