Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Is Iowa the end of the game, or the beginning?

Jerry Stratton, February 3, 2016

I’ve been hearing a lot from pundits about how low-polling candidates should leave the race now that the Iowa caucus is over. I think that’s wrong. For pundits, Iowa looks like the end of the game because the guessing is over, and the results are coming in. But while, for pundits, Iowa is the end of the game, for everyone else it’s the beginning. Non-pundits and non-candidates haven’t been focused on the election, and are only now starting to care who their choice should be.

For the candidates, everything up to Iowa has been practice. It’s all been pre-game up to this point. Iowa is the beginning of the actual race. You don’t leave the game at the end of the first play. At some point, the math will start to become impossible, and a little after that the math will actually be impossible. But as it stands today, 99% of delegates remain up for grabs. Leaving the race now, just because of a loss in one state, would be non-presidential. A campaign that can’t afford to continue has not spent its money or resources wisely—and it’s the candidate who ultimately is responsible for that. We, or I at any rate, want a president who can budget for the whole game, not spend everything at one play at the beginning.

Right now the pundits are saying that the Broncos are going to lose on Sunday, and the pundits are probably right. But the only way to know for sure is to play the game.

So while I join those joking about Kasich and lower from the Iowa results keeping their chopping hands out of the debates, his loss in Iowa is no reason for Kasich to leave, nor should he. His chances of winning are tiny. But his chances are far less if he leaves the race.

This does not mean, of course, that pundits who have chosen sides can’t try to convince candidates to leave the race if they think that candidate’s supporters will go to their own preference. That’s all part of the game. But falling for it is pretty much proof you weren’t right for the part.

Does this mean that Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee aren’t presidential? Probably—if their only reason for leaving was losing in Iowa. This is especially true of the Democrats. There were only two other candidates in the race, besides O’Malley1. One of them is a socialist with communist leanings and the other is Bernie Sanders.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. But one of them is an old white socialist who literally praised the Soviet Union even after the rest of the left realized what a mess it was, and the other is an old white likely felon who turned the world into a mess. If O’Malley was right for the job, he’d show at least a little staying power. If Clinton is forced to drop out, the choice between O’Malley and Sanders would make O’Malley a lot more palatable.

But regardless, all of the lower-polling candidates except Jeb Bush knew they were long-shots when they went in. Iowa didn’t change that. If they didn’t have a plan for staying in the race after losing the first time out, they weren’t qualified anyway.

So call for Kasich or Christie or Fiorina to leave the race if you think it will help your favored candidate2. But give them some props if they choose to continue fighting for the long haul and have, win or lose, successfully budgeted their resources to do it. That in itself is a presidential quality.

In response to Election 2016: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.

  1. There are other Democrats on various ballots, but they are not trying to get on all or even most of the ballots; this means they aren’t running for President, they’re playing some other game, a game of leverage or influence.

  2. Why do you think I want Kasich, Christie, and Santorum to follow Huckabee by leaving?

  1. <- Countering Trump
  2. Obama, Trump, and Hitler ->