Townhall – Iowa Is Not a Battleground – But It’s Always a Game Changer

Iowa is enjoying the perennial political limelight as it hosts the first true contest in the GOP presidential primary. Not surprisingly, leftists have taken to deriding this largely white, agrarian, “fly-over state” as purely symbolic of the GOP’s primary race to nominate someone they’ll end up painting as extreme anyway. While Iowa is not a battleground state under this new political landscape, its place as the first-in-the-nation in a major political party primary is incredibly important to not just tradition but setting the tone for the rest of the primary. 

The results in Iowa will kick off one of three likely scenarios. While the current polling data suggests all three of those will likely result in a Trump victory, the most crucial moments of this seemingly already long primary will happen between Iowa’s caucus and the slew of primaries on Super Tuesday. And yes, the difference between a caucus and a primary matter, especially at this pivotal moment.  

Iowa has a caucus system which until this year meant that voters declared for a candidate would literally walk across the (usually a gymnasium) floor to gather in a show of majority numbers until a winner was declared. Despite a secret balloting system being used this year, Iowa contrasts to New Hampshire which allows non-Republican voters to cast ballots for their preferred candidate. This open system usually allows a more moderate candidate like Nikki Haley to make a strong showing.

In just the month of January, those first two contests set us up for Nevada, South Carolina, and Michigan in February. Both Nevada and Michigan changed various rules governing their primaries making both difficult to reliably use to determine likely outcomes ahead of Super Tuesday on March 5. This leaves South Carolina’s primary to complete the bellwether trifecta…

Read the full op-ed by Cygnal Pollster & Director of Political Strategy Mitch Brown in Townhall