Pile Up In Iowa

Iowa is overrated. It always has been. I can’t think of too many people who won Iowa and went on to get the nomination. Ron Browstein has some thoughts that increasingly show Terry McAwful’s front loading idea was a bad idea:

The Iowa caucuses are supposed to provide the first answers in the presidential nomination race. But this year, they may only supply questions.

In its final days, the contest has become an unprecedented four-way sprint that is pushing the candidates to the limits of their skills and endurance. Yet when they look up after the results Monday night, the Democrats may find they haven’t moved very far from the starting line in their competition.

The caucuses frequently have buried rather than launched candidates — identifying losers instead of anointing winners in the nomination process. This year, though, with the candidates packed together so closely in the polls, Iowa may not play that winnowing function.

Depending on the order of finish, all of the major candidates who competed here — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina — could wake up Tuesday with enough strength and credibility to sustain their campaigns.

A pile-up finish in Iowa would immediately increase the incentive for these contenders to open fire on retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who has built a powerful wave of momentum in New Hampshire while ignoring the caucuses. Such attacks, on issues from Clark’s previous votes for Republican presidents to his work as a lobbyist, are escalating even before the Iowa race concludes.

The increasingly likely pile up in Iowa will be bad news for Clark. All four of them will have to lay on Clark and each other to make sure Clark doesn’t win New Hampshire. This is going to be a blood bath.

Excellent.

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Erick Erickson

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