"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Iowa and Idaho

Briefly alluded to in the last post, but this really merits a second take: The possibility that the Iowa results could actually impact on Idaho politics. Most particularly, that Idaho Democrats may have particularized cause for smiling.

Two components to this.

First, on their own side of the fence, more than a few Idaho Democrats had to be concerned – terrified might be a stretch but not by a lot – at the prospect of Hillary Clinton atop their ticket this fall. The whole idea of Clinton redux took them into a nightmarish place few would even want to contemplate; so the rapid growth of a Barack Obama base in Idaho in recent months has been no shock. Those Idaho Obama corps has become large and active and energetic, and probably will deliver the state to their man at next month’s caucuses. And there’s basis for thinking that Obama could be the least-disliked Democratic presidential candidate in Idaho in decades. You might actually see the spectacle of Idaho Democrats running for office and mentioning their presidential candidate. A startling concept. (Disclaimer, of course: No one yet knows who will be the Democratic presidential candidate, or Republican either. Of course.)

Second, across the fence, the odds of an especially popular Republican nominee just dropped a bit. Idaho Republicans have locked in behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – practically every notable Idaho Republican who has endorsed has signed up with him. And the religious linkage, the big overlap between Idaho’s Republican and Mormon community on one hand and Romney’s very public Mormon affiliation on the other, means that many Idahoans are unusually invested in how well Romney does. If the Iowa results turn out to be predictive of Republicans elsewhere around the country, that may mean, “not well” – and how will all those Idaho Mormon Republicans take that?

Of course, things can run in many different directions in the months ahead; if the Iowa results conclusively mean anything, it’s that the races in both parties are far from over. But Iowa certainly does open some lines of thought.

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