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Des Moines, Iowa


The Iowa Caucuses

Geoff Wood

I must admit, I feel a little left out as Iowan living in Indiana. As you may have heard, 2008 is an election year and thus for the last ten months or so the political world has been focused on my home state.

You see for one out of every four years the little Tall Corn state in the middle of flyover country is the focus of the east coast (if not the free world) as those with the odd wish of leading this country duke it out amongst the unions and legions halls to win this funny thing called a "caucus". Not only, a caucus, I s'pose, but the first caucus of the season and thus the initial barometer for whomever will represent each party on the first Tuesday of November.

This "first in the nation" status does more than put Iowa into the lead story on The Today Show each morning, it also puts Iowans into the (sometimes precarious) position of being spoken to, advertised at, polled, proded, and pictured by every candidate, campaign, and news service that matters.

It's kind of neat.

Where else in the country can a little town(1) of less than 8000 people draw two of the most intriguing and diverse political figures of modern times like Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton to march in the same Independence Day parade?

Indiana gets none of it.

Caucus/primary season begins tomorrow and I've yet to see one political ad or get one phone call asking my opinion or asking me to support a candidate. I'm not necessarily complaining - those can get annoying - they are all for good reason. I've always felt like a big part of the election process. On top of voting in 1996 and 2004, I've caucused twice, for Harkin in 1992 (I was underage and probably not supposed to be there) and for Edwards in 2004 (yep, my record's not great). In 2000, I spent a big part of my summer fielding phone calls from Republican campaign staffers asking me to get my "frat brothers" to vote for their guy at the Straw Poll (in exchange for keg parties - no joke).

I'm fairly disenchanted this year. The candidates either don't care about my vote yet (as Hoosiers we don't caucus, er, primary until May when the race will all but be decided) or assume that I'll vote red (I won't).

Oh well.

As a side note, I mentioned that the caucuses can get a little annoying to Iowans. It doesn't mean they don't like their role in the process but it sometimes goes a bit over the top. To that degree, Jason Walsmith (of The Nadas) and Kyle Munson (apparently of the music critic ilk at the Des Moines Register) put together a satirical little youtube video that I caught through an RSS feed and enjoyed:

(1)Clear Lake, Iowa