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Friday, January 30, 2015

Iowa Political Caucuses: Los Caucus Presidenciales en el estado de Iowa

Iowa Political Caucuses: Los Caucus Presidenciales en el estado de Iowa: Los Caucus Presidenciales (Asambles Partidistas) en el estado de Iowa Profesor Steffen Schmidt Universidad Estatal de Iowa (Adap...

Los Caucus Presidenciales en el estado de Iowa



Los Caucus Presidenciales (Asambles Partidistas) en el estado de Iowa
Profesor Steffen Schmidt
Universidad Estatal de Iowa

(Adaptado de varios artículos y “blogs.”)[i]

En 2015 empieza el largo proceso de las elecciones presidenciales en Estados Unidos. Los candidatos a la presidencia de ambos partidos declaran su intención de competir, comienzan a solicitar fondos para la costosísima contienda (se espera que el costo será de un billón de dólares), y contratan con administradores de campana para lanzar su esfuerzo.  
Militantes del partido Republicano de Iowa escogen en la noche de los “caucus” en enero de 2016 quién es su candidato para enfrentarse al candidato del partido Demócrata en noviembre de 2016. A la misma vez los Demócratas en Iowa escogerán su candidato o candidata.
El sistema en Iowa es especial: no son unas elecciones tradicionales con colegios electorales (puestos de votación) abiertos todo el día. Son “caucus”. Los votantes se reunirán a las 7 de la tarde (noche) en 1.774 precintos electorales, escucharán un discurso de representantes de los candidatos y escribirán en un papel a quién escogen. El Partido cuenta los resultados y los publica.
En el Partido Republicano lo común es que el voto sea secreto. En el Partido Demócrata los votantes de los caucus se agrupan en esquinas del lugar donde se reúne cada “caucus” y los indecisos en el centro. Cada grupo intenta convencer a los indecisos unirse al grupo de su candidato. 
Además, los grupos de “preferencia” para candidatos tienen que superar una cuota de personas en cada precinto (es decir cada “caucus”) calculada como un porcentaje de los participantes en ese recinto. Los grupos de no llegan a esa cifra se declaran “no viables” y las personas que apoyan a ese(a) candidato(a) tienen que unirse a un grupo viable o declararse indecisos.
Iowa escoge solo a 28 delegados de los 2.286 de todo el país que se reunirán en una convención nacional de cada partido en el verano para escoger a su candidato. El ganador debe reunir más de la mitad de los delegados, primaria tras primaria obtenidos después de un “maratón” político en todo el país.
La mayoría de primarias en Estados Unidos son elecciones tradicionales, pero hay alrededor de 15 estados que optan por los caucus. Cada estado decide a quién deja votar en sus primarias. En un gran numero de primarias podrán votar ciudadanos no identificados como republicanos o demócratas
Por qué Iowa es importante
En 2008 se reunieron en los caucus de Iowa 119 mil votantes. Es un porcentaje pequeño de los 3 millones de habitantes de Iowa, “.. la mayoría blancos y religiosos. Su influencia en la política americana es desmesurada por un motivo simple: son los primeros en votar,” escribe Jordi Pérez Colomé.  Sin embargo el primer candidato Negro, Afro-Americano, y multirracial, Barak Obama, gano los caucus de Iowa lo que le impulso a ganar la mayoría de delegados demócratas y luego la presidencia.
Se especula si el proceso de escoger candidato empezaría en otro estado los resultados serian diferentes. Yo, como analista de las elecciones considero que no cambiaria los resultados de quien se presentara como candidato ni quien ganaría la mayoría de los delegados.
Además, Iowa ofrece a candidatos desconocidos la oportunidad de presentarse a los votantes del país. Por ejemplo “ … en 1976 los republicanos también adelantaron sus preliminares a enero. Ese fue el año en el que el anteriormente desconocido Jimmy Carter, saltó a primer lugar y luego ganó la presidencia. Y esa es una de las razones por las que los candidatos invierten mucho tiempo y recursos en Iowa.”[ii]
La ventaja de ser pocos interesados es que tienen la oportunidad de ver de cerca y preguntar a los candidatos en pequeñas reuniones. Hace meses que los políticos visitan distintos lugares de Iowa. También en Iowa son los primeros en ver los anuncios y líneas generales de cada campaña. En ese sentido Iowa es un laboratorio nacional.
Por qué Iowa es muy importante
Felipe Benítez  en su excelente blog establece que “… la importancia de los caucus de Iowa radica más en términos de simbólicos que términos reales electorales.”  “… en términos mediáticos y de percepciones, aquel aspirante que gana Iowa es considerado como el líder en la contienda, lo que hace que se sumen simpatizantes y se abran las chequeras de donantes, por el contrario una derrota o un mal desempeño en Iowa puede acabar con las aspiraciones presidenciales de un candidato. [iii]
Los caucus no son totalmente decisivos. En 2008 acertaron con Obama, pero escogieron a los republicanos Mike Huckabee y Mitt Romney en lugar de John McCain, que al final fue el nominado. Sin embargo cuatro año después Mitt Romney gano en Iowa y fue elegido como el candidato republicano subrayando la importancia de Iowa como “El barómetro político” de contiendas presidenciales.
Los caucus de Iowa pueden catapultar o hundir una campaña: es mucho, pero no es todo. Para los candidatos, es casi más importante cumplir o superar las expectativas de los sondeos que quedar primero. Pero la verdad es que en la historia política de los EEUU desde 1972 los caucus de Iowa han sido un proceso sorprendentemente confiable en predecir cuales tres candidatos a la presidencia ganaran el premio de ser elegidos en la convención de su partido. ningún candidato que haya quedado por debajo del tercer lugar ha conseguido la codiciada nominación.
Después de Iowa viene el estado de New Hampshire, un estado con elecciones tradicionales, más moderado y con más participación. Los resultados suelen variar. Por ejemplo en 2008 Barak Obama gano los caucus en Iowa pero Hillary Clinton la ex senadora de Nueva York y esposa del Presidente Bill Clinton gano en New Hampshire.
Entre estos dos estados el futuro de candidatos crece o termina porque el “momentum”  o impulso de cada candidato se mide con los resultados de estos dos estados. Además la enorme cantidad de fondos que necesita un candidato a la presidencia disminuye con perdidas en Iowa y New Hampshire. Se dice que el pozo de dinero se seca!



Partes de este articulo son adaptado del “blog” de Jordi Pérez Colomé (Barcelona, 1976) periodista. Ha escrito seis libros (ver abajo "Mis libros"). Es director de El Ciervo. Ha ganado los premios José Manuel Porquet de periodismo digital 2012 y Letras Enredadas 2014 de iRedes. Este blog se ocupa de Barack Obama, de Estados Unidos y de su influencia en el mundo.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Iowa Political Caucuses: Steve King's Excellent Adventure

Iowa Political Caucuses: Steve King's Excellent Adventure: Iowa conservative Congressman Steve King was the beaming moderator of his presidential candidate shindig the Freedom Forum held in Des Moine...

Steve King's Excellent Adventure - Part 2.

Iowa conservative Congressman Steve King was the beaming moderator of his presidential candidate shindig the Freedom Forum held in Des Moines on January 24, 2014.

It achieved several goals.

First of all, it just about terminated Sara Palins strange political adventure. She was her usual cutsie, nasty, "pokey," sarcastic self. But then suddenly she started lurching into incomprehensible babble. The crowd at the event looked puzzled. She incoherently lurched on, finished, got applause and walked off the stage.

What happened?!

We now learn that the teleprompter suddenly quit on her. Who knew that her pronouncements were actually scripted? Who knew that she can't just pick up and extemporaneously go on?

Now the rumor in Iowa is that someone (the search is on) deliberately stopped or jammed the teleprompter to terminate her career.

Paranoia?

Maybe.

But in fact Palin is a big distraction to the 2016 march to the White House. She's just not serious and in a dangerous world even conservative Republicans have said she's unacceptable as President.The crowd at King's event was appalled and they are about as forgiving an audience as Palin will ever get.

Second, Steve King has chosen his "winners" from the event: Texas Senator Ted Cruz (see picture) and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Iowa governor Terry Branstad is apparently furious. He wants to keep the Iowa caucuses unbiased and wide open so that all contenders will come to the caucuses in February 2016. Maybe he was so upset that he fainted and required hospitalization a few days after the King Summit.

If you are Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, or Mitt Romney would YOU now feel that Iowa is unbiased?

Governor Branstad, please get well quickly and fix the problem. Iowa should be open to all contenders at this point in the race to the White House.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Iowa Political Caucuses: Steve King's Excellent Presidential Caucus Forum

Iowa Political Caucuses: Steve King's Excellent Presidential Caucus Forum: Steve King’s Presidential Forum Steffen Schmidt The Republican Presidential contenders attending Congressman Ste...

Steve King's Excellent Presidential Caucus Forum


Steve King’s Presidential Forum
Steffen Schmidt

The Republican Presidential contenders attending Congressman Steve King’s “Freedom Summit” Presidential forum in Des Moines on January 24, 2015 need to be very careful. If they pander too much to Steve King, who is a nationally very controversial politician, they risk being politically destroyed by what I call the "Bachmann Factor." Michelle Bachmann, former MN Representative, is a close friend of King's. She won the 2011 Ames Straw Poll in the last election but her positions, very similar to King's, were so divisive that she subsequently tanked in the Iowa caucuses.

Stepping back to a previous caucus season, former Governor Mike Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucuses but then went on to tank also because he was too socially conservative and did not have a robust wide platform including a strong experience in foreign policy. I believe that 2016 Republican contestants have to avoid getting “Hucked.”

Potential GOP candidates also have to be worried about getting "Santorumed." Named after former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum that’s the process whereby a candidate appeals to Iowa's most faith-based, evangelical, and socially conservative voters only to be rejected by the more secular conservative and even moderate primary voters in much of the rest of the nation. That’s what happened when Mitt Romney beat Santorum in 2012 for the GOP nomination.

In other words, the 2016-wannabe candidates have to be careful beyond Iowa not to alienate the majority of Republican voters who chose Mitt Romney NOT Rick Santorum as their candidate.

Then, whoever gets the nomination has to make sure he or she (Carly Fiorina is showing signs of interest in running for President) doesn't veer too far from where “no-party” (i.e. so-called "independent" voters) are located on the political spectrum.

Talking with Republican strategists I discovered that they are indeed concerned about the fact that someone as liberal as Barak Obama could win two Presidential elections. Of course, conservative Republicans argue that the success of the democrats in 2008 and 2012 can be blamed on the GOP Presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney actually being too moderate.

Other analysts of course, point out that McCain had Sarah Palin as his running mate who helped him with conservatives but drove away too many voters in November. Mitt Romney it is argued was forced to the right (he was a moderate as governor of Massachusetts) and was at the same time seen as an elitist who did not connect well with working class voters.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Iowa Political Caucuses: The 2015 Presidential debates have begun

Iowa Political Caucuses: The 2015 Presidential debates have begun: I read an interesting news story. "GOP moves to limit 2016 presidential debates after complaints of media bias, high number in 2012 s...

The 2015 Presidential debates have begun

I read an interesting news story.

"GOP moves to limit 2016 presidential debates after complaints of media bias, high number in 2012 season"The article said "Washington Republicans have moved to exert more control over their presidential primary debates, limiting the types and number of events in which 2016 candidates can participate, in an effort to get a firmer grip on the nominating process."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/11/gop-moves-to-limited-2016-presidential-debates/

All I have to say to the RNC is GOOD LUCK!

On Saturday Steve King, Iowa's 4th District Congressman is running the The Iowa Freedom Summit which Realclearpolitics says "... will be the first major cattle call of the 2016 Republican campaign."

May I say with all due respect, that this is actually the first GOP debate.It's not an "official" debate but this is 2015 and the idea that anyone can control political communication is out of touch. We can have Internet debates, we can have live blogging debates, we will have "forums" and other candidate shindigs all over the United States which will get AS MUCH COVERAGE as the formal debates.

So, 2015 will be a year of abundant and mind boggling candidate presentations and confrontations ON TOP OF the formal and "official" debates.




Friday, January 09, 2015

Iowa Political Caucuses: The Ames Straw Poll

Iowa Political Caucuses: The Ames Straw Poll: Since 1979 every summer before the Iowa caucuses the Republican Party of Iowa organized a Straw Poll - the Ames GOP Straw Poll - where presi...

The Ames Straw Poll

Since 1979 every summer before the Iowa caucuses the Republican Party of Iowa organized a Straw Poll - the Ames GOP Straw Poll- where presidential contenders could show their stuff, haul in "supporters" and try to get buzz by "winning" the straw poll.

The poll is not a great predictor of who will win the Iowa Caucuses nor who will win the GOP nomination NOR who will become President of the United States. Those are the criticisms of the Straw poll.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad wants the straw poll killed because it distracts from the caucuses. I'm not sure how since we have had the straw poll since 1979 and it did nothing to undermine or "weaken" the importance of the caucuses for OVER 30 YEARS!

I know that the governor was frightened by MN congresswoman Michelle Bachmann's victory in 2011. BUT her victory was short lived and she came in near last in the actual caucuses.

My argument is that the Ames Straw poll is NOT the Iowa caucuses and it has completely different purposes including:

  1. It is a great political festival during a slow news period. The media LOVE the poll.
  2. The straw poll also allows extreme candidates (Bachmann) to scare the bejeebees out of Republicans who then ramp up up port for more credible candidates such as Romney.
  3. The straw poll is economic development and creates hundreds of jobs in the transportation, printing, tech, and hospitality industries. It also stimulates the airlines, Des Moines airport, and charter bus companies.
I love the straw poll and have had a lot of fun watching the candidates try to outdo each other in organizing support, hiring musicians, serving fantastic barbeque, and otherwise creating a festive and fun political event. What's wrong with that?

I'm a big fan of the Straw Poll. I have even called publicly for the Democrats to also organize a straw poll and maybe call it the Thomas Jefferson - Andrew Jackson Democratic Party Politipalooza. *

 ------------------------------------------------------

* FYI - "Jefferson–Jackson Day is the most common name given to the annual fundraising celebration held by Democratic Party organizations in the United States."





Thursday, January 08, 2015

Iowa Political Caucuses: Gov Scott Walker is Running for President

Iowa Political Caucuses: Gov Scott Walker is Running for President: It's God's work.

Gov Scott Walker is Running for President


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is running for President.

My friend Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel wrote, "Gov. Scott Walker took several moves this week to prove his 2016 presidential bid isn't just a daydream of his conservative admirers and news media prowling for the state's next big political story.

He announced an appearance alongside other hopefuls at a major GOP gathering in Des Moines later this month, hired a veteran consultant to manage his increasingly likely run and told a talk radio host he sees God's hand at work in the opportunity before him."

The Des Moines gathering is Congressman Steve King's forum for GOP hopefuls. Walker invoking God is a good start for running as a Republican in Iowa.

Walker has been a "stealth candidate" so far in iowa. Not much talk about his bid for the White House.

We know he is interested but not hearing a lot yet which may be a smart move. OR it could be not so good since this year with Jeb Bush launching and going after the big money, Bobby Jindal is here in Iowa right now going after the evangelical ministers, and Rand Paul has been drilling deep into the Libertarian wing of the party. This may be a "front loaded" year when you need to seriously launch your campaign. Coming to the King forum is good for walker to show his colors and get into the scrum but the Rev Mike Huckabee is also in the mix now that he's quit Fox news.

Already it's like the sign at the Jewish delicatessen in my block in Manhattan when I was in graduate school which read, "TAKE A NUMBAH!"  "and Get in Line."

Friday, January 02, 2015

Unfounded Criticism of the Iowa Caucuses


Some Criticisms of the Iowa Caucuses

As we look at the future of the Iowa caucuses we need to examine and understand some of the major criticisms that have been raised about the process.

Iowa is Too Conservative

One of the most widely held criticisms raised about the validity of the “Iowa first” process is the allegation that Republican candidates for president must “veer to the right” in Iowa and then try to veer back to the center for the general election and that this kills their chances of getting elected.

The candidacy of Mitt Romney in 2012 is the most recent example cited by these critics.

My political science colleague Lynn Vavreck, U.C.L.A., professor and co-author of “The Gamble,” about the 2012 presidential campaign has done an interesting research project with her co-author John Sides.

In 2011 they started tracking the responses from “ … weekly surveys, each of which asked 1,000 people to rate themselves and the candidates on a five-point ideology scale ranging from very liberal to very conservative. Most people placed themselves in the middle, and placed Mr. Romney to the right of center and President Obama to the left.” [i]

Their analysis of this data “ … show that people’s views about the candidates’ ideologies didn’t move over the course of 2012.”

In other words, although Romney may indeed have “pandered” to the right of the Republican party in the Iowa caucuses, which by the way he clearly did, he was already seen as “conservative” and towards the end of the campaign he was not seen as being more conservative or unacceptably conservative by those polled.

President Obama was seen as liberal and more liberal than the respondents but since he goot reelected to a second term, that did not seem to hurt him with voters. The authors point out that since the economy was recovering THAT factor was more important than the fact that he was seen as liberal.

 In their excellent summary of the research Vavrek states that, “… three pieces of evidence — that Mr. Romney was thought to be no less conservative before the primaries than during or after them, that his average rating didn’t shift much at all during the entire year, and that he was ideologically closer to most voters than Mr. Obama — bust the myth that Republicans lost the 2012 election because of ideological shifts in the primaries.”

Mitt Romney did have to stay close to his many Republican caucus opponents who, like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, were indeed much more conservative especially on many social issues and religious positions such as their rejection of “evolution” and their firm position on “creationism” – that God created the heavens and Earth and humans.

If Vavreck and colleague are correct it was “ok” for Romney to “pander” to the Iowa Republican caucus attendees and later to conservative Republicans in other areas of the country such as the south. Their research suggests that other factors were more important in the outcome such as Romney’s very strong position with powerful Republican leaders and donors to his campaign across the United States. Romney’s loss in November of 2008 was due to two things.

First was his unfortunate statement about the 47 percent of the country. He said at a fundraiser that 47 percent of voters would chose Obama “no matter what” because they are people “… who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax.
“My job is not to worry about those people,” Romney added, “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The Second reason Romney lost the election was ORCA. This was a software program that was supposed to give 37,000 volunteers in swing state including Iowa a minute by minute update on what voters needed to be contacted all during election day to get them to the polls. I will not go into the technical details of why the program failed but they ere very similar to the initial disaster of Obamacare. The system had not been tested in real life, the servers were ridiculously insufficient and the system failed.

“… On November 3, field volunteers were told to expect "packets" shortly containing the information they needed to use Orca. Those packets, which showed up in some volunteers' e-mail inboxes as late as November 5, turned out to be PDF files—huge PDF files which contained instructions on how to use the app and voter rolls for the voting precincts each volunteer would be working. After discovering the PDFs in his e-mail inbox at 10:00 PM on Election Eve, [one volunteer] said that "I sat down and cursed, as I would have to print 60+ pages of instructions and voter rolls on my home printer. They expected 75 to 80-year old veteran volunteers to print out 60+ pages on their home computers? The night before election day?"

You can and should read the amazing article on this embarrassing disaster at:

Romney did not lose the election because the Iowa caucuses pulled him too far to the right

Iowa is Too White

Another criticism that has been articulated for many years is that Iowa is “too white.” Indeed, Iowa is among the states with the smallest Black and Hispanic populations. The implied “problem” was that candidates campaigning in Iowa would not be tested on issues of significance to minorities. Since Iowa has been followed by the New Hampshire primary in the past decades and New Hampshire is also a low minorities state the criticism played to the perennial problem of “underrepresented” minorities in the US political process.

This criticism was rudely put to rest when Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and went on from Iowa to win the nomination, the election and then of course was reelected President in 2012. I have not seen a word about Iowa being to white since the 2008 caucuses so that particular issue has been put to permanent rest.

Iowa Democrats are Too Liberal

Since both the Democrats and Republicans compete in the Iowa caucuses to start the candidate selection process a small ripple of criticism rolled out recently alleging that by giving Obama the winning night in 2008 the majority of Iowa Democrats revealed that they were “too liberal.”  After all, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in 2008 and most of the “big primaries” so Obama it is argued by some prevented the more “establishment” Democrat, Hillary Clinton, from winning.

Very few Democrats still “go there” if you will. Iowa caucus Democrats were exactly right in giving Obama the nod. Only six Democratic presidents have been reelected to a second term of office since 1900 and Obama is the most recent. Thus it would be silly to second guess the Iowa Democratic caucus participants who saw in Obama qualities that they felt would get him elected in the first place. And, these mostly white voters did not et Obamas race and ethnic difference from all other US presidents get in the way of their choice.

The 2016 Iowa Caucuses

The discussion about Hillary Clinton and liberalism could have an impact in 2016 when once again it appears that she will again be a presidential contender. This time around the progressive, liberal wing of the Democratic party is actually already arguing that Clinton is TOO “establishment.” That’s why much more liberal contestants such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren are sniffing the political air in Iowa and are being encouraged by progressive Iowa Democrats to compete in the 2016 caucuses.  

The Republican 2016 caucuses will be very interesting with no incumbent president running and no clear GOP frontrunner although Mitt Romney the 2012 candidate has been ahead in early polls. 

One of the most intriguing question being asked is whether Romney or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W Bush and son of former President George H. W. Bush will compete in Iowa and how they will position themselves.

The early thrust already suggests that at least Bush will not “pander” to the most conservative wing of the Iowa GOP. Jonathan Easley of The Hill reported on January 1, 2015, “Likely 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush has declined an invitation to speak at a conservative summit in Iowa hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa.), a sometimes controversial figure in the GOP. A Bush aide told The Hill that the former Florida governor appreciated the offer to speak at the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January but that he would not be able to attend. The Washington Post first reported on Wednesday that Bush had declined the invitation to the summit, which will feature a host of other potential GOP presidential contenders.”

Clearly Bush has bought into the theory that Iowa conservative Republicans pull candidates too far to the right to win the GOP nomination. Vavreck and her colleagues have suggested that this is not the case. Bush can come and “pander” to King and
--> the Iowa conservatives and it will not hurt his campaign if he avoids fatal mistakes such as Romney’s ORCA and 47% insult of working class Americans.