I was thinking today of the central role Iowa plays in electoral politics. It skews — unsurprisingly — traditional, conservative, and even religious. In fact, I think Iowa’s religious leanings (evangelical especially) cast a long shadow across the whole Republican nomination process. I mean, fer cryin’ out loud, the Iowa caucuses have Donald Trump trying to thump a bible. Huckabee has won here, Santorum too. Their success in this one state carried them a long way into the process, and losing here has eliminated much better-rounded candidates.
Now, what would happen, and what kind of candidates would the Republican Party put forward, if the nomination process proceeded in a different order? What kind of characters would we see making it to the later states if they surfed the wave created by a California win? I’m certain many flyover Republicans would not stand for such a thing, but the immense weight carried by religious voters in Iowa probably drives the coastal elites batty by the time they get their say in the process. Is there a better order? Is this the only way for social values and religious conservatives to have a real say in the nominating process?