Dear Rest of the United States,
I know your undies are all in a bundle over the potential outcome of the upcoming Iowa caucus and future-present-and-past results of the approximately ba-zillion-and-one polls out there that show MarBenEb FiariChrisTrumCruz leading/lagging in the race for the GOP nomination, and speculation on whether or not BernIllary and the DNC can defeat him/her/them in November.
It's not like we're going to determine the next leader of the free world.
Oh, wait, yes.
Yes, we are.
Eh. Calm down.
We got this.
But are Iowans really qualified to predict the presidential nominees?
You think Iowa has any more/less psycho-wacko-wingnut-jobs than any other state?
In a word? Puh-Leeze.
Let's look at this from the candidates perspective, shall we? Iowa is a nice “warm-up” state, figuratively speaking, in February. If a candidate can transition from the heat and humidity of the Iowa State Fair in August to the freeze and frost-bite of the Hawkeye Cauci in February and still keep their wits about them I'd say... well, I'd say they need their heads examined, but that's just because they're running for President in the first place.
But in terms of campaigning, Iowa has its share of (soft-ball, warm and fuzzy, play-it-safe) attractions to qualify for First In The Nation status:
We're nice. Except for that one guy who threw a tomato at Donald Trump. Tomatoes are out of season in Iowa, so I question that man's status as a true Iowa native. I think a real Iowan would have thrown a snowball, or an ear of dried feed corn, or a cow pie. Maybe a comb, or a can of Aqua Net (one can only resist such a tempting target for so long). Actually, I don't think a real Iowan would be so rude (and I apologize for the Aqua Net comment – sort of).
We'll go to your rally, sit and listen quietly-ish, nod politely, smile and applaud. We'll even laugh at your lame jokes and pretend you don't look uncomfortable wearing a seed corn cap and rolling up the sleeves on your (recently purchased) plaid work shirt. We'll let you shake our hands, kiss our babies and knock on our doors. We'll even pretend to listen to what you have to say.
Iowa is a cheap date. You don't have to lavish us with champagne and caviar. We'll take a pork chop on a stick or maybe a barbecue (we prefer our steaks to be Iowa, corn-fed beef). The cost of living in Iowa is below the national average, so you get more bang for your buck here. You can campaign in Iowa and still have money left over to woo the other states. Please don't be offended when we ask you to pay in advance and figure in the gratuity for you.
Iowa is picturesque. Iowa is just one big, friggin' photo op for candidates. Four seasons (frequently all in one day), acres and acres of fields (don't worry, we don't know what's growing in there either), a variety of farm animals (and farmers) that are not camera shy, clear(ish) lakes, along with rural, urban and suburban vistas (all accessible from one spot)... we're a little slice of photography heaven (yes, we have ball fields, too). Nary a single M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank in sight. (Take that, Michigan! I'm surprised Mr. Dukakis didn't see to it that your primary got moved to... never.)
Iowa is average. I say this as a proud, life-long (so far) Iowan, you don't get much more white-bread, normal(ish), ordinary, cross-generational, cross-cultural, everyday, average 'Merica than Iowa. If it plays well in Iowa, it should be successful anywhere(ish).
True, our census data points don't plot out very far and wide, but we are not all 75-year-old retired, angry, white, male, farmers. Some of us are 74-years-old. But by the time the February caucuses roll around, most of us are just cold. And angry.
And anxious for our phones to stop ringing.
Which brings me back to why no one should worry too much about pre-caucus poll results (with a +/- 100% margin of error, depending on which candidate paid for it) predicting the potential caucus outcome, because...
Iowans love a good phone prank. Iowans take their caucus responsibilities seriously. The endless and repeated phone calls from poll-sters? Not so much.
There is a possibility that I, myself, have completed more than one automated phone survey in a less than honest fashion, (“Do you plan to attend the upcoming Iowa Caucus? If yes, press 1” 1. “If the cau..” 1. “If you...” 1. “If...” 1. “I...” 1.) only to find that while I was (mis)taking the survey I received automated calls from five other poll-sters.
Not to worry. They'll call back.
They always do.
I'm read... 1...y.