Since last August, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling Director David Redlawsk has been in Iowa, studying the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses, following up on work he and colleagues did in 2007-08 for the book Why Iowa?. The Iowa Caucuses, which will kick off the actual voting in the presidential nominating campaign will be held February 1, at 7pm CST. The New Hampshire primary follows 8 days later. Historically these two events have been played an outsized role in the success and failure of candidates seeking the nomination
What follows is another in our occasional series of posts from him about his experiences and about the campaigns for president. Some of these posts were originally published on the Drake University Caucus Blog; Dave is in residence as a Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. In addition to these posts, he is tweeting @DavidRedlawsk as he attends events and watches the process unfold. Dave’s time in Iowa is coming to a close; he’ll return to Rutgers after February 2.
Candidate’s first-day promises? Doomed to disappoint
This post was first published January 13, 2016 in the Des Moines Register newspaper. In it, Dave writes about the claims candidates make about what they are going to do – apparently all by themselves – once they win.
The story goes that, as delegates were leaving the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government its members had designed. Franklin is reported to have said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
And so they had. The Constitution did not create a system where one ruler can govern by fiat. Nor did it create a pure democracy, where the masses decide everything. Instead, we got a republic designed to ensure the passions of the people at any given time do not override either good policy or minority rights. We got a government designed to work slowly and incrementally, responsive to the results of elections, but not so responsive as to be whipsawed any time “the people” changed their minds…
A few weeks ago Dave also wrote a column on the nature of the Iowa caucuses as more broad based than most think, they are not creatures of the extremes as one candidate has claimed.