Opinion: Be Thankful for Iowa

Republican presidential candidates at Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

It's one week from showtime - the January 3 Iowa Caucuses are almost here.

We are putting on our best faces, cleaning up the more than 1,700 caucus precinct sites, and getting ready for the national and global news media avalanche. Yes, we take politics seriously in Iowa. It’s a professional sport here, and nothing is more important than the presidential caucuses. We have saved the rest of you Americans the horrible job of winnowing the field of GOP Presidential candidates.

There have been others who decided that Iowa GOP voters are a bunch of rubes - sorry Donald Trump we know a New York celebrity when we see one. We loved you Herman Cain but we wanted to know you better, like we know our neighbors in small towns in Iowa and you didn’t pass the American Legion Hall sniff test for Commander in Chief.

We also test the managerial skills of folks who want to run the largest and most complex economy in the world. If you can’t time your spending for the long slog that’s a presidential race you probably can’t manage the federal government; sorry Tim Pawlenty, ya shoulda budgeted better. Remember, it’s about the long haul.

Iowa also is a test market for “market share.”  If you have three products that are very similar you’d better be better than the other two. Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry are selling the same basic flavor. It’s like three ice cream places on the same intersection. If only one of them were running, he or she could be in second place.  One of them could have offered the two others cabinet positions, Supreme Court appointments, juicy ambassadorships.

Oh yes and we tell the truth. Republicans are conservative. They are not “moderate.” So Iowa passes the reality check. Iowa Republicans are conservative. Iowa Democrats are also a great reality check for Democrats across the nation because in Iowa they are liberal.

One thing we in Iowa can’t control is the fact that so many Americans and Iowans are “No-Party” or independent. After all they are the crucial swing voters in American elections and they don’t play in the presidential selection process. We in Iowa can’t do anything about that.

So my question is this. Ya wanna have a national primary system where only candidates with hundreds of millions of dollars can run a successful campaign? If we scrap the Iowa/New Hampshire process that’s where we will end up.  

Steffen Schmidt is University Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, Chief Political Correspondent of insideroiowa.com and has analyzed Presidential politics for 41 years.