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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Prez Debate in "New Iowa Straw Poll"

The minions of politics decided to eliminate the Ames Straw poll because it would trivialize the Iowa Caucuses. They said it was too expensive and candidates would be weakened by spending so much money on the poll. They said it was a highway robbery. The Iowa GOP forcing contenders to spend a lot of money to participate in the Ames GOP political festival.

Here is what Chuck Todd and the Meet The Press unit said.

"The first GOP debate is the new Ames Straw Poll
For political observers who are pleased that the Republican Party's Ames Straw Poll no longer exists, here's a question to chew on: Is the first GOP debate on Aug. 6 -- limited to the Top 10 in national polls -- a suitable replacement? After all, that is what the first debate has essentially become. Think about it: It will serve to winnow the Republican field just as the Ames poll did. (So instead of Tim Pawlenty dropping out of the 2012 race because he can't beat fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann in the straw poll, you're likely going to see GOP candidates drop out, or at least lose support from donors, from being left off the first debate stage.) In addition, just like candidates would spend big bucks on the Ames Straw Poll, we've seen the GOP candidates and outside groups backing them spend nearly $8 million in TV advertisements -- mostly to boost their poll numbers. Of course, the money spent on the Ames Straw Poll went to the Iowa Republican Party, to help build the party before the caucuses. But what is this new money spent on? Answer: Building name ID for the candidates."

So the Iowa GOP made a generous move to cancel the Ames Straw Poll only to hand over the role of first serious test of a candidate to Fox, the first debate and TV advertising.

I prefer the Ames straw poll to be the start of the process.

Have you reserved a spot in my short, free, Internet course on the Iowa caucuses yet:
Sign up here:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fascinating! Arnie Arnesen on Politics

See my recent interview with Arnie in her studio in Concord, new Hampshire.
  • Money
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • The future
Published on Jul 15, 2015
I wanted to share this as quickly as possible with you. Arnie is a genius political analyst, observer, and activist in Concord, New Hampshire. I'm on her radio show "The Attitude" once a week. Her comments in our improv discussion in Concord are very informative and will be part of my free Internet course on the Iowa caucuses and presidential selection. YOU can join us at

YOU Won't Believe this About Money and Politics

 This article appeared in The Herald  Herald Publishing Co. including The Carroll Daily Times Herald, Jefferson Bee & Herald, Adair County Free Press, Fontanelle Observer, Guthrie County Vedette, Guthrie Center Times and Lake Panorama Times.

The Washington Post reported that “The political network overseen by the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign, an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history.” Ouch! That’s a chunk of change.

However, if she gets the Democratic nomination Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House too will have lots of dough. She is expected to spend roughly one billion dollars. Her ultimate GOP opponent will spend the same amount.

It’s no surprise that “big money” in politics is of concern to almost anyone watching the 2016 election season roll along. Ever since the Supreme Court in Citizen’s United case there have been virtually no restrictions on political spending.

The concern is that money allows billionaires to “buy” elections and “put future presidents in their pockets.”

Now along comes political commentator, candidate for governor, university lecturer, radio host at WHNH, and analyst Arne Arnesen of Concord, New Hampshire to give a totally different perspective. (Picture in studio by Steffen Schmidt (c)2015)

I was on her show “The Attitude” ( in studio last week. I’m on every Thursday, normally on the phone from Ames, Iowa. Then I interviewed her for my free Internet Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Iowa caucuses.

Arnie argued that money is only a threat when it’s asymmetrical. If one party or candidate has oodles of dough and the other sides do not, money can distort the discussion and outcome of caucuses, primaries, and the general election. That would undermine the democratic political process.

But, argued Arnie, what if every candidate has a millionaire sponsor? Then regardless of how much money is spent the playing field essentially becomes flat. It’s a draw.

Second, Arnie avers that beyond a certain necessary amount MORE money really can’t buy you a political advantage. The reason is that TV time is normally “Sold OUT” so there is no more opportunity for an air war. Hiring more staff, more pollsters, more “consultants” is probably a waste of money.
Third, in the 21st Century “social media” and “social networking” is becoming more important as a political tool. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, blogs, FullCircle, Tumblr, Xanga, and a HUGE number of other tools (For a list of current active sites: are generally free. With active crowd sourcing of supporters and a little bit of what I call  “assignmenting,” asking individuals or teams to target specific social media, a candidate with lots of dedicated followers and volunteers can probably compete with the deep pocket contender.

I think Arnie has raised a very compelling and intriguing hypothesis about money and politics.

We will be testing this with the contest between Hillary Clinton, who has lots of money, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who does not accept Super PAC money and is running a grass roots campaign, small contributions, and lots of passionate followers.

As despair about the unspeakable amount of cash has us all concerned, money may not, after all, be the insurmountable and unfair force. With clever use of free media (see Bernie Sanders and his huge rallies) and social media the billionaire influence could be a lot less than expected.

* Steffen Schmidt is University Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University. You can sign up for his free Internet course that starts Sept 1 @

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Iowa Caucuses MOOC

Here is a remonder with a new twist of my FREE Iowa Presidential Caucuses Online Course or MOOC.

Presidential caucus is topic of ISU's first MOOC

By Erin Rosacker
July 09, 2015
As the field of presidential candidates grows, so does interest in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus selection process. Beginning this fall, University Professor Steffen Schmidt is offering four free massive open online course (MOOC) sessions to help explain the presidential caucus process to a global audience.

"A MOOC is free and allows people to participate at their convenience," Schmidt said. "The discussion forums provide great interactivity and the diversity of participants will make for excellent discussion."

The same course content will be offered in four different sessions, which begin Sept. 1, Oct. 13, Nov. 17 and Jan. 5. The course will focus on:

History of caucuses
Digging into caucuses
Role of media and technology
Future of caucuses
Schmidt said more than 600 participants already have enrolled in the MOOC sessions, ranging from high school students to political junkies and media personalities.

"ISU faculty and staff participation will be especially valuable because they often have participated in local political events," Schmidt said. "They are Iowa residents and personally invested in the Iowa caucuses. They are a very powerful force in spreading the word about the MOOC to students and others who might be interested in this course."

Course enrollment is open. The final session runs Jan. 5 to Feb. 2. Participants do not receive college credit. The course includes videos, readings, practice quizzes and interactive discussion forums. The course material will be accessible after the sessions are over, excluding the discussion forums.

"The time commitment is entirely up to the individual," Schmidt said. "Some will want to watch every interview, read every article and post every day to the discussion. Others may just want to graze the material they're interested in or skip material they're already familiar with."

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Chris Christie in New Hampshire

Chris Christie in New Hampshire
Steffen Schmidt

I am in New Hampshire today watching the 2016 presidential campaign unfold in the first primary state. Last night I spent 3 hours chatting with political activists and Republicans who have run for office in the Granite State.

“Why is Chris Christie concentrating on New Hampshire and Maine as he rolls out his candidacy?” I asked.

The reason seems to be that he is betting the very conservative and faith based Iowa GOP caucus voters are NOT his best chance to rise in the polls. His credentials on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, the confederate flag, and other social issues are inferior to most of the other contenders.

Christie cancelled several New Hampshire events one in Derry where I had planned to cover his campaign.

On the other hand his campaign has its eyes on the large number of no-party (i.e. independent) voters in New Hampshire who can vote in the GOP primary.

(Picture  courtesy ChrisChristie web site)
Independents are not as ideological as Iowa’s hard core conservative Republicans. Therefore Christie is playing “The McCain” as they call it here in New Hampshire.

You may remember that John McCain basically skipped Iowa in 2008 but still managed to stay relevant by doing well in New Hampshire. McCain did make a few appearances in the Hawkeye State and had a “skeleton” crew pushing his campaign. And, coming in tied for third place with Fred Thompson at 13% held up the Iowa rule that to have a chance at the nomination you must come in first, second, or third in Iowa. McCain won in New Hampshire and eventually beat Mike Huckabee and others to win the nomination.

HOWEVER, some New Hampshire political geeks told me that Christie could get “Giulianied.” That’s in reference to former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani who decided to skip Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and try to make his stand in Florida. That turned out to be a fatal mistake as McCain won all of the Florida delegates on primary day.

The Iowa bounce, or lack thereof, will be a focus of Iowa State University's free online course I will be conducting, starting September 1. The course is open for enrollment now at HAVE YOU signed up yet.? Do it now. No pain. No specific time commitment.

So there is a great deal of interest in Chris Christie’s “Northeast” campaign, which seems to run counter to where the GOP has it’s strengths. His abrasive and in your face personality is thought to fit the northeast culture better than “Iowa nice.” However, I attended Christie’s education speech in Ames and he seemed controlled and got a generally positive reception from attendees so I think there is still room and time for him to include Iowa in his strategy.