Vox Populi Iowae: Charisma, Anyone?

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Finally, the returns from Iowa are almost complete, and the Washington Post nicely lays them out for you. Lots of information here, but I want to focus on the above graph.

It turns out that, when given a binary choice, only 61 percent of Iowa caucus goers picked “rather nominate a candidate who can beat Donald Trump” rather than the single alternative, “rather nominate a candidate who agrees with you on major issues.”

Let’s look at the preferences of the 61 percent who placed highest value on electability. Within that group, one of the insurgent candidates, Crazy Bernie, garnered the support of only 15 percent of the population—a huge difference from his 36 percent share among voters who cared most about issues. Conclusion: the good people of Iowa are really skeptical that Crazy Bernie could be elected.

What about Pocahontas? Among the electability-concerned 61 percent population, Warren got only 16 percent (only a tiny difference from the 17 percent of the issue-concerned voters who favored Warren). Conclusion: the good people of Iowa are very skeptical about Pocahontas’s electability and  they are not too keen on her, on the issues, either.

Like Sanders, there was a whopping big difference in Biden’s support among the issues-concerned voters, where he had five percent support, and among the electability-concerned set, where his support jumped almost five times, to 23 percent.

However, among the electability-minded, Biden still came in second to Buttigieg, who garnered 24 percent support, the largest figure for any candidate.

Why Do Iowans Think Buttigieg is More Electable than Biden?

For sure, it isn’t because of the national polling data.

And, for sure, it isn’t because of Buttigieg’s resume.

Part of it likely has to do with Ukraine.

But my instinct tells me it’s mainly because Iowans don’t think an insurgent is electable, and they don’t think a generic, well-spoken, presentable Democratic politician is electable.

I think it’s because the Iowa voters’ guts tell them that we need Something Else.

Charisma, anyone?

And, right now, Mayor Pete is the only seemingly viable Something Else on offer.


For a more comprehensive perspective, check out William Saletan, How Pete Won: His success in Iowa is a template for victory in November.


Greetings to yesterday’s readers from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Jordan, Kenya, India, Mauritius, Peru, and the United States. Readers in the US were most numerous, but Kenya placed a strong second. So, let’s all enjoy some music.