1. So, fellow politics junkies, tonight’s the night. The first actual ballots cast in the 2016 presidential race (albeit in a weird and quirky caucus system that somehow favors both progressives and evangelicals and affords disproportionate power to white, rural and often very religious people).
As The New York Times opines this morning:
It’s easy to grouse about Iowa’s outsize role. It forces candidates who never stood in a cornfield to pay homage to farm subsidies of questionable merit. It skews Republicans’ stances to the evangelical right, and Democrats’ to the far left, given its vigorous progressive element. Its system of caucuses, in which precinct voters turn up in a school gym or social hall to vote under arcane rules, is not a traditional primary at all and isn’t even called one.
But Iowa matters, particularly for this year’s national front-runners.
Yes, it does. On the GOP side: Will Ted Cruz pull it off and keep his very narrow presidential hopes alive? If so, will Donald Trump respond to his loss with an epic insult-comic tweet-storm? Will any of the establishment candidates matter in the least? Will someone find a pulse on Ben Carson?
For the Democrats, there’s really only two questions: Can Hillary hang on, or will Iowa hand her the same kind of bone-rattling defeat it did eight years ago? And if she loses both Iowa and New Hampshire, will she be the first successful nominee to do so since her husband in 1992?
Oh, and one more: What’s the over/under on us witnessing a Clinton Dean-scream?