It was 11 months of Dems standing in diners explaining how they could win back these counties with 30,000 people or so, followed by a month of Julián Castro saying the whole process was slanted.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 28, 2019
… Because the Very Serious People are realizing, once again, that giving Iowa its current front-runner importance is actually stupid and counter-productive. But right now, we’re all stuck with it!
Latest from the AP, “Iowa swung fiercely to Trump. Will it swing back in 2020?”
… In 2008, its voters propelled Barack Obama to the White House, as an overwhelmingly white state validated the candidacy of the first black president. A year later, Iowa’s Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage, adding a voice of Midwestern sensibility to a national shift in public sentiment. In 2012, Iowa backed Obama again.
All that change proved too much, too fast, and it came as the Great Recession punished agricultural areas, shook the foundations of rural life and stoked a roiling sense of grievance.
By 2016, Donald Trump easily defeated Hillary Clinton in Iowa. Republicans were in control of the governor’s mansion and state legislature and held all but one U.S. House seat. For the first time since 1980, both U.S. Senate seats were in GOP hands.
What happened? Voters were slow to embrace Obama’s signature health care law. The recession depleted college-educated voters as a share of the rural population, and Republicans successfully painted Democrats’ as the party of coastal elites.
Those forces combined for a swift Republican resurgence and helped create a wide lane for Trump…
TL;DR (to my jaundiced eye): Aging, low-info white voters were easily misled by Repub grifters into choosing the latest ooh, shiny! “populist” because the local agricorp bankrupted their town and abandoned it. Then the Walmart closed, so they have to drive an hour to pick up groceries. And also, their ungrateful kids never come back to visit any more, preferring the Godless sodoms of Des Moines or Chicago.
… But now, as Democrats turn their focus to Iowa’s kickoff caucuses that begin the process of selecting Trump’s challenger, could the state be showing furtive signs of swinging back? Caucus turnout will provide some early measures of Democratic enthusiasm, and of what kind of candidate Iowa’s Democratic voters — who have a good record of picking the Democratic nominee — believe has the best chance against Trump.
If Iowa’s rightward swing has stalled, it could be a foreboding sign for Trump in other upper Midwestern states he carried by much smaller margins and would need to win again…
Iowa’s metropolitan areas, some of the fastest growing in the country over the past two decades, have given birth to a new political front where Democrats saw gains in 2018…
There are also signs Iowa Democrats have shaken some of the apathy that helped Trump and hobbled Clinton in Iowa in 2016.
Democratic turnout in 2018 leaped from the previous midterm in 2014 from 57% to 68%, according to the Iowa Secretary of State. Republican turnout, which is typically higher, also rose, but by a smaller margin.
Overall turnout in Iowa, as in more reliably Democratic-voting presidential states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, was down in 2016, due mostly to a downturn in Democratic participation.
“The trend was down, across the board,” said Ann Selzer, who has conducted The Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll for more than 25 years. “So it doesn’t take much to create a Democratic victory in these upper Midwestern states.”
“I think the success in the midterms kind of made people on the Democratic side believe that ‘we can do it,’” Selzer said…
Increasing Democratic voter turnout is unabashedly A Good Thing, and I applaud Iowa caucus-goers for their efforts towards this end.
But come 2021 — assuming we survive that long — I’m still in favor of breaking the IA/NH deathgrip on how America’s presidential candidates are chosen.