Also, who lost clarity and common sense? Who won Iowa, Sanders or Buttigieg?
Excitement builds as cable pundits keep asking the pointless question.
What makes the question pointless? For starters, Iowa isn't a "winner take all" state at this stage of the game. It doesn't matter "won won" in the obvious way it would in a winner-take-all situation.
Eventually, barges will deliver Monday evening's final data to the state party in Des Moines. Whatever the final totals (of various types) might turn out to be, Sanders and Buttigieg will emerge with roughly equal numbers of "state delegate equivalents," and with more than anyone else.
(By the way, good luck getting someone to explain what a "state delegate equivalent" is.)
Buttigieg and Sanders will get more state delegate equivalents than Warren or Biden will—but no one will get them all. On that basis, it doesn't matter who may have "won" by a handful of votes, except for purposes of spreading excitement around.
It also doesn't matter because Iowa is just one state. There are 49 other states, plus assorted districts, territories and isolated outposts.
Because there are 49 other states, it doesn't matter who got the most votes, by a narrow margin, in this one lone state. But just try telling that to the reporters and pundits who populate our mainstream press.
Those pundits! Instead of urging against a stampede based on votes in only one state, they're now playing their standard quadrennial role, suggesting that certain candidates must be on their way out the door because of what happened in Iowa.
How silly is that? Consider:
It's often noted that Iowa is an "unrepresentative" state. Beyond that, though, the selections made in its incomprehensible caucus system are made by a relatively small, unrepresentative sample of Iowa voters!
Despite a year of Iowa-humping within the upper-end press corps, the state's caucus process is so noxious that large portions of Iowa voters don't show up or take part. Consider one recent example:
In 2016, there were roughly 2.2 million registered voters in Iowa. In that year's November general election, 1.57 million of them actually showed up to vote.
But according to the two state parties, fewer than 360,000 people took part in that year's caucuses, even after we spent our standard full year blubbering about the devotion and dedication of Iowa's nonpareil, civic-minded voters. In each party, the vast majority of registered voters didn't take part in the caucuses.
In a rare manifestation, Daniel Bush (no relation) took notice of the routine low turnout at the caucuses in a report for the PBS NewsHour that year. Among other things, the gentleman offered this:
BUSH (1/27/16): Attending a caucus eats up the evening, making it hard for people who might like to participate but can’t rearrange their busy schedules to make time for a political event.In short, the state of Iowa is "unrepresentative" to begin with. In turn, the caucuses are attended by a small, unrepresentative sample of its unrepresentative electorate!
“You have to hope the car starts, the babysitter shows up, you’re not sick and there’s no blizzard,” said Goldford, adding that it’s especially difficult for people who work at night and can’t take off for the caucuses, which start at 7 p.m.
As a result, the caucuses are dominated by Iowa’s most engaged primary voters—a small subset of liberals and religious conservatives in a largely white, rural state that is far less diverse than the country as a whole.
That said, so what? On Tuesday morning, we saw NBC's Ali Vitali confidently asserting that "we know there are three tickets out of Iowa." They play it this way every four years, and nothing will ever stop them.
Despite impressions you may get on cable TV, very few of our failing systems have ever made actual sense. It's crazy to think that a small subset of Iowa voters should wring down the curtain on White House contenders, but major pundits play it that way every time.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we the people aren't always perfectly sharp. Unfortunately, the people we see on our TV machines are several times less impressive.
Few things that we do make actual sense. It's their job not to notice!