Random Iowa news, thoughts, and reactions
More than 346,000 Democratic and Republican Iowa caucus-goers turned out Thursday night to support their favorite presidential candidate, and in doing so, set historic participation numbers for Iowa's first in the nation caucuses.
The unprecedented turnout was due largely to the huge numbers of first-time caucus-goers. Barack Obama, who won the Democratic caucus, drew thousands of new participants, including a sizeable number of political independents. In addition, the Iowa Republican party estimated that as many as 30 percent of their caucus participants were new registrants.
The Register's Iowa Poll published Tuesday forecast the perfect storm that apparently hit Thursday night. The poll showed 60 percent of Democratic caucusgoers would be attending for the first time. It also indicated that 72 percent of Obama's support would come from first-time caucus-goers.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Iowa Democratic Party officials reported 234,000 caucus attendees, compared to 124,000 in 2004. With 93 percent of GOP precincts reporting, 112,349 Republicans had participated in their caucus, up from the 87,666 who participated in 2000.
Democratic turnout nearly doubled, over four years ago, and more than doubled Republican turnout. Swing-state Iowa, which barely went for Al Gore, in 2000, and barely went for Bush, in 2004, should easily go blue, this November.
I find the reporting out of Iowa and New Hampshire profoundly dispiriting. A fair estimation would be that 99 percent of it is entirely irrelevant to the question of who should be the next president and what issues that person is likely to face. That 99 percent includes horse-race coverage of one variety or another, devoted entirely to process and execution, and meant almost exclusively for insiders. What is further dispiriting is the degree to which so many liberal bloggers and journalists who generally decry this kind of thing have fallen into exactly this trap. It's a lesson in the sociology of journalism and the power of group dynamics.