What if Iowa Settles Nothingarchives.cnn.com
Added 2305 days ago in Opinion
nytimes.com — Iowa is packed with presidential candidates and hundreds of campaign aides, advisers and contributors. Twenty-five hundred representatives of news organizations have been granted credentials to cover the caucuses on Thursday night, twice as many as in 2004. Rarely has a political event been so intensely anticipated as a decisive moment, at least on the Democratic side.

But what if it is not decisive?

What if at the end of Thursday, the three leading Democrats - former Senator John Edwards and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama - are separated by a percentage point or two, leaving no one with the clear right of delivering a victory speech (or the burden of conceding)? A number of polls going into the final days have suggested that after all of this, the Democratic caucus on Thursday night could end up more or less a tie.

In truth, amid all the endless permutations of outcomes that are being discussed - can Mrs. Clinton, the putative front-runner, survive a third-place finish, or Mr. Edwards a second-place one? - aides are beginning to grapple with the frustrating possibility that all the time, money and political skill invested here might prove to be for naught when it comes to identifying the candidate to beat in the primaries and winnowing the top tier.

"It would be like a six-month trial and a hung jury," said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. "I think it is really possible."

Rather than clarify the state of play and consolidate this crowded field a bit, an outcome like that would almost certainly muddle things further and potentially extend the time before Democrats know their nominee.

For different reasons, Iowa is not likely to determine much for the Republicans, either. Only Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, are going all-out here, and whatever happens between them, the Republican race already seems likely to go on at least until the cavalcade of primaries across the country on Feb. 5.

But for the leading Democrats, an inconclusive ending here would be a much more complicated result.

Because none of them would be judged a decisive loser, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama would all be able to go on to the New Hampshire primary next week, no questions asked. And you can bet on this: the other Democrats in the race — Senators Christopher J. Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr., Representative Dennis J. Kucinich and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico — would feel less of the morning-after-Iowa pressure to pull out.

Posted by JBeal
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Who do you believe the Iowa caucuses will more than likely settle it for?
It will be decisive for the Republicans
14%
It will be decisive for the Democrats
41%
Iowa won't matter & will be long forgotten after Thursday
45%
This is not a scientific survey, click here to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding and voting descrepencies.
User Comments
Posted 2304 days ago
0 up votes, 0 down votes
The fact that it's improbable that any one caucus or primary will be decisive is not logically equivalent to, "Iowa won't matter & will be long forgotten after Thursday."
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