It is again that time when Iowa and New Hampshire loom large for us political junkies. Some of my best and most exciting political experiences are from the epic Iowa caucus season of 2007-2008.
When Barack Obama entered the Democratic primary field in early 2007, nobody gave him much of a chance. Most people—especially political insiders and “experts”—thought Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. Luckily, both Iowa and New Hampshire voters are an independent-minded bunch who want to truly vet the candidates and give everyone a chance. Voters in the early states want to meet candidates in person and hear what they have to say before making up their minds. Without this level playing field, Obama would have had no chance to beat Clinton in 2008.
Just imagine if Maryland had been an early decisive state during the 2008 primary season. Well before the primary, all elected Maryland Democrats would have lined up behind the party establishment’s choice—Hillary Clinton. The substantial campaign resources of the Maryland Democratic machine would have ensured that no challenger had any chance of beating Clinton. Obama, Edwards and all the other candidates would have been crushed. Game over.
Thank you Iowa and New Hampshire for having real elections.