Iowa is cold in the winter. There will be fewer freezing candidates, operatives, volunteers, and reporters in 2024. The Iowa Caucus will no longer be the first test for Democratic presidential candidates. It’s about damn time.
Nobody gave a shit about that fakakta caucus before Jimmy Carter’s surprise win in 1976. It gave underdogs hope and pumped money into the Hawkeye State economy.
I’ve never cared for caucuses in general and Iowa in particular. The rules are fussy and fusty. There was a massive counting fail in 2020 that defeated the purpose of the whole shebang: anoint a frontrunner going into the Granite State.
New Hampshire also took a hit from the Democrats. They’ve long boasted of holding the first primary in the nation, but they’ve been told to get in line behind South Carolina.
I have more sympathy for New Hampshire. It’s been an important test since 1952 for Dems and 1948 for Republicans. Primaries are a truer test of strength than caucuses. The Granite State was also the site of second place finishes heard round the world by Gene McCarthy, George McGovern. and Bill Clinton.
New Hampshire is still a swing state. Iowa along with Ohio and Florida has lost that status. That’s not the reason the Hawkeye State has been politically pantsed: it’s whiter than Wonder Bread and twice as bland. New Hampshire isn’t exactly a citadel of diversity either.
The first Democratic test in 2024 will be South Carolina. The Palmetto State is a red state BUT at least half of Democratic voters are Black. It’s also Big Jim Clyburn’s state and the primary that saved the Biden candidacy. The changes were proposed by the president’s people but they’re long overdue. Call it enlightened self-interest.
The Wolverine State of Michigan has also been moved forward, which is a good thing. It’s a diverse state and the primary has been hospitable to insurgents and leftys in the past. The change is also down to Governor Whitmer’s move from party star to superstar as Democrats overcame gerrymandering and won both house of the state lege in 2022. Go Blue, isn’t just the catch phrase of Michigan football anymore.
I was awakened in the middle of the night by Claire Trevor knocking over a stack of Christmas presents awaiting wrapping. I was mad at the little beastie and couldn’t fall back asleep. Yawn.
My feline forced wakefulness led me to contemplate the ghost of swing states past. Does that make me Ebenezer?
Missouri was a swing state until 2004 when it became clear that the spirit of Harry Truman no longer haunted voters there. It was also the state in which a dead man defeated incumbent John Ashcroft for a Senate seat in 2000. Sure, it was popular former Governor Mel Carnahan, but the story is always worth retelling. It’s the political equivalent of Fezziwig’s party in A Christmas Carol. You know me: I love Dickens references.
My first home state of California was a purple verging on red state until 1992. In fact, it went Republican in 8 out of 9 presidential elections from 1952-1988. It helped that Californians were on the top of the ticket 5 times and in the second slot twice. Nixon and Reagan weren’t my cup of tea as presidents, but they were first rate candidates.
My second home state of Louisiana was in play in 1992 and 1996 because of Perot splitting the Republican vote and Bill Clinton’s status as a neighboring Governor. Besides, the Slick Willie image played well in the Gret Stet. See, Edwards, Edwin.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. None of this musing would be relevant to the general election if we directly elected the president. The country dodged the loser as winner bullet from 1888 to the dawn of the 21st Century. I am firmly on the record as wanting the electoral college abolished but it’s unlikely to happen any time soon.
Back to the 2024 primary season. My only interest today is in scheduling not candidates. It’s way too early to speculate. The DC punditocracy begs to differ: what a horse race without horses? They should at least have the decency to wait for Senator Warnock to defeat the dumb jock in the Peach State tomorrow. #fingercrossed
I have a confession to make: I wrote this post because I came up with a snappy title. It happens more often than I care to admit. It’s the sort of post I can write in my sleep after doing this for 16 years and four presidents. I was groggy as I hunched over the keyboard, but the ghost of Christmas present woke me up and kept me up.
Shorter Adrastos: If the post is marginally coherent, blame Claire Trevor not me. She’s the ghost of Christmas present. Bah humbug.
The last word goes to Eddie Cantor:
You were expecting a Christmas carol instead of the Looney Tunes theme?
The last last word goes to Porky Pig as Bob Cratchit: