I like Dick Morris though I can’t say I always agree with him, and Monday was one of those times. Morris wrote:
The short list of contenders for the nomination will not be chosen in the early primaries. Iowa and New Hampshire will not impose their will on America. America will impose its will on Iowa and New Hampshire.
The quarter finals will not be waged in the cornfields of Iowa or the former mill towns of New Hampshire. They will be held in the living rooms of America among the Fox News audience!
Morris cites Fox News’ growing audience, especially among Republicans, and I can agree that they will certainly be influential. But ultimately it will be what voters in the first caucus and primary state that will have the biggest impact. Here are eight reasons why.
1. Both states require a grassroots strategy.
In particular since Iowa being a caucus state it is vitally important to have a grassroots strategy and you can’t depend on a national media presence to win. Since caucuses meet at a certain time you see motivated voters attending them as attending a caucus can be inconvenient. These folks are the activists. They also work on the party platform as well. This is where we decide who we will send to the county central committee, and who from our precinct we’ll send to the platform committee. We certainly have larger numbers during presidential caucuses, but not near the number you would have vote if we held a primary. Activists aren’t going to persuaded by journalists and pundits whether they are with Fox News or not.
We are used to and expect candidates to visit our state, visit living rooms and diners, come see the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair and eat something fattening on a stick, visit farms and factories. Simply be accessible. From what I observe in New Hampshire they have similar expectations.
Without the influence and potential in these states we would just be left with candidates with huge war chests, who are liked by Fox News pundits, and also wealthy themselves.
Besides ask Rudy Giuliani how well skipping Iowa and employing a national strategy worked out for him. Sean Hannity loved him. Iowa not so much.
2. All politics are local.
We certainly care about the economy, taxes, and a whole host of other issues we share in common with all Americans. In Iowa we also care about ethanol. Also judicial reform (while it should be an issue everywhere) is an issue we are acutely aware of after tossing out three Supreme Court justices with our retention vote. This is an issue where we will want to know where Presidential candidates stand.
3. On the ground is where the news happens.
What do you think gives Fox News something to report about during the race? Interviews? Remember it is Iowa that brought you the scream heard around the world by Howard Dean. Yeeeeawwwwww!!!!!!!!
4. Local media sometimes does a better job winnowing out the wheat from the chaff.
5. God says so.
Just sayin… well actually Bill Richardson said so. Maybe that’s just for Democrats… I digress.
6. The Tea Party
Morris’ position seems to fly in the face with the prevailing attitude of tea partiers. That is the type of mentality you are going to have with the Republican activists who caucus. They didn’t care what Beltway Republican/Conservative media thought in 2010, and so they are going to suddenly care in 2012?
7. Caucus goers are well informed
I would say better informed, more aware of political issues, and more involved.
8. It gives us candidates which better represent all of us, not just big states.
Which is what you would get if Dick Morris had his way, which is probably why he wants it this way. Explain to me how we won’t just end up with sound bites, commercials and fly-in rallies if we don’t use the current approach? With Iowa and New Hampshire you get a pretty good cross-section of the ideological factions within the Republican party. Those two states winnowed the candidate field to two – Mike Huckabee who won the Iowa Caucus and John McCain who won the New Hampshire Primary.