The Single Best Sign That Clintonworld Is Taking 2016 Seriously

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 2 2014 2:59 PM

The Single Best Sign That Clintonworld Is Taking 2016 Seriously

103179810-tourists-in-bill-and-hillary-clinton-masks-drive
Moving to Iowa

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

There's been a decent amount of attention focused on the GOP's efforts to scale back the caucus system. It's generally (and correctly) understood that the nonbinding caucuses made it easier for activists to overwhelm establishment Republicans and deliver "wins" (which could be overturned in state conventions, after the media stopped paying attention) to Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. 

Now Mark Barabak reports that Iowa Democrats are doing some pruning of their own.

Spurred in part by pressure from the party’s national leadership — which includes a number of Clinton allies — the Iowa party is considering ways to expand participation in its caucuses, which have been structured in ways that prevent many voters from taking part.
Possible changes include the use of absentee ballots and online voting, allowing those physically absent to participate in the caucuses, which typically occur on a cold winter night and last for hours.
Advertisement

The problem, as Barabak points out, is that turning Iowa into a "primary" state would upset the subtle, ridiculous balance by which the parties keep New Hampshire from losing its "first in the nation" primary and presumably seceding to Canada. The benefit is that a candidate with more soft appeal and less base appeal does better in a primary. Thus: This is good for Hillary Clinton.

It is, though the caucus system in Iowa wasn't Hillary's worst problem in 2008. People forget this, but Hillary struggled throughout 2007 in the Hawkeye State. John Edwards had nearly won the state in 2004; Barack Obama represented a state that shared a border with Iowa. (Illinois, if you've forgotten.) In the first Des Moines Register poll of 2007, Hillary polled third among Iowa Dems, with 21 percent support to Obama's 23 percent and Edwards' 29 percent. Edwards never actually improved on that, but Hillary ended up losing to him by 0.3 percent as Obama surged into the lead.

Iowa's just not a problem for Hillary anymore. In polling this year, her total support has ranged from 59 to 71 percent. What compounded Hillary's problems in 2008 was that Obama out-hustled her in every subsequent caucus, winning 13 of the 14 caucus states. (Hillary won only the popular vote in Nevada, and ended up taking fewer delegates than Obama because he even out-hustled her in congressional district math.)

This was the fatal mistake of the 2008 campaign. It's the best evidence Republicans have when they argue that Clinton is an overrated, error-prone candidate. The news that her allies are looking ahead to shaping and organizing even one caucus state suggests they've actually learned something in six years. (It also means that a future—2024?—Democratic insurgent will have an even tougher time breaking out.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:03 PM Kern Your Enthusiasm: The Ubiquity of Gotham
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.