Some believe Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses. We would disagree. The real winner was…Television.
Some $40 million was spent on political ads on TV and Iowa wasn’t even having a primary. They were having a caucus, some Democratic and Republican neighborhood discussions might be a more appropriate description.
They met in 1,781 caucuses across the state in schools, community halls or wherever a community had space. For the Democrats, each candidate staked out a corner and those committed citizens who arrived no later than 7 p.m. went to their appropriate corner. If a candidate and corner lacked 15 percent attendance negotiations began, but could only last 30 minutes. Sort of reminds one of tug of war, as the strongest, most persuasive lure people to their corner. And at the end of the time limit, the biggest group wins. It sounded and looked like chaos.
But the Republicans are hardly better, as a person or persons ran
around the room taking pieces of paper with a candidate’s name written
on it. And the winner is announced.
How anyone knows these
people are qualified voters remains unexplained. We do know anyone age
17 and older in Iowa is eligible to vote.
Back to the
spending. There are an estimated 2.9 million people in Iowa. Of that
1.9 million are said to be voters this year. This year’s turnout far
exceeded expectations and certainly trumped anything in the past two
presidential elections. In the year 2000, only 59,000 Democrats
participated in a caucus. This year, they say there are 220,580
participants and that is just over a third of the registered Democrats
On the Republican side, in 2000, there were
87,000 who had their say and this year an estimated 114,000 handed in
their piece of paper. That represents about one-fifth of the registered
With these kinds of figures just the TV
ad expenditure amounts to about $20 per registered voter or around
$123 per caucus attendee. Then comes all the money spent for the
staffs and candidates for housing, food, transportation, and any other
forms of advertising such as postcards, telephones, radio, newspaper
My description of this sort of expenditure is "downright sinful."
those who think a caucus is another example of "the American way," it
may interest you to know that there is no absentee voting, no
accommodations for the handicapped who can’t get to one of the meeting
areas, those who work at 7 p.m. don’t have a say either. The Iowa
process has to be one of the most discriminating forms of voting one
can find. And yet, far more than $40 million was spent in this state of
2.9 million. The process is not controlled by the federal government,
it is controlled by each political party.
process was started by farmers some 200 years ago because they felt
they didn’t have much say in the voting process. We doubt those farmers
intended for it to be such a discriminatory process. And , of course,
there was no way they could know Iowa would reap the financial bonanza
as has just been seen.
As long as the politicians are willing to play the game, you can be sure Iowa and the media will take it to the bank.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Upper Rogue Independent