More Important Than Anticipating the Results of the Iowa Caucuses

By Dave Andrusko

2010-2011 gave new meaning to the term (coined in 1980) the “Permanent Campaign.” Seems like we’ve been talking about the Iowa caucuses, which take place tonight, pretty much non-stop since at least the November 2010 off-year elections. So, as the seven pro-life candidates scrambling for caucus support tonight, what do we know?

For starters, whatever we think we know will likely be, if not obsolete, at least reshuffled by tomorrow morning. What appears to be clear this moment is that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul are neck-and-neck in Iowa, according to both the Des Moines Register and the Democratic Polling firm of PPP.

The difference is that PPP sees former Senator Rick Santorum in a statistical dead-heat with Romney and Paul for first place, whereas Santorum is third in the Register poll. Worth noting is that if you examine the Register poll more closely, you see that while Santorum was at 15% for the full polling period, he was at 21% for the final two days.

Seems hard to miss that like many before him—including Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich—Santorum is riding a wave of enthusiasm and support. Or, as pollster J. Ann Seltzer put it, “Momentum’s name is Santorum.”

By the way, looking at national polls, Gallup says the lead has changed hands seven times since May in a race Gallup’s Lydia Saad describes as the “most volatile for the GOP since the advent of polling.”

What IS unambiguously clear is that the Republicans are all pro-life and represent a sharp contrast to pro-abortion President Barack Obama. That position—and their willingness to express it clearly–earns them dismissive write-off from both the Establishment Media and pro-abortion bloggers.

Take the pro-abortion site RH Reality Check. On Monday Amanda Marcotte began with the ritual denunciation of Iowa as unrepresentative of the country as a whole. But, in her view, Iowa is doubly atypical because so many Iowa Republicans are pro-life.

“[J]ust because the voters say they care mostly about economic issues to a pollster doesn’t mean that they don’t vote their gut when it actually comes time to make a decision,” she wrote under  the headline “Why the Iowa Caucus is about Abortion.” (By “voters,” Marcotte means what she derisively labels the “Christian right.”)

Two observations on that. I don’t claim to be an expert on the composition of the attendees to tonight’s caucuses. I do know that when a given writer wants to explain the supposed “decline” of the “Christian right,” we’re told their numbers are shrinking. When arguing that the caucuses are really unrepresentative, we’re told (as Marcotte does) that they will be everywhere tonight.

But while no doubt many pro-lifers who will caucus will be “conservative Christians,” many will not be. They will fall in no such neat category; they simply will abhor abortion. This gets in the way of the recurring media narrative, but it happens to be true.

Second, in one respect Marcotte is right but it applies not just to Iowa (as she argues): “[J]ust because the voters say they care mostly about economic issues to a pollster doesn’t mean that they don’t vote their gut when it actually comes time to make a decision.”

As Karen Cross, NRL’s Political Director, has explained many times, the advantage among single-issue voters on abortion virtually always goes to the pro-life candidate over the pro-abortion candidate. Certainly it’s been true without fail nationally since 1980.

We have been told, we are being told, and we will be told for the next ten months that abortion is so far down the list in voter importance that it doesn’t even qualify as a tertiary issue. Then, after the election, it might, just might, be revealed that polling done the day of the elections or immediately afterwards, reveals that the abortion issue was much more important that we were told it would be!

One other concluding thought the day of the caucuses. One important reason Marcotte argues that abortion won’t have the resonance it has in Iowa is because the “icky and obviously false” kinds of “myths” and “misinformation” spread by pro-lifers “simply can’t work their magic on a more diverse conservative electorate.” Let’s think about that for one moment.

In an age of abortionists like Kermit Gosnell and Steven Brigham—where Gosnell stands accused of eight counts of murder (seven first-degree and one third-degree) and Brigham of five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of second-degree murder—is it necessary to make up “myths” and “misinformation”?

Gosnell stands accused of murdering seven babies by first aborting them alive and then snipping their spinal cords with surgical scissors. (The Grand Jury thinks there were hundreds of viable babies who were murdered over the decades.) Brigham has had his license pulled, suspended ,or relinquished in a total of five states.

Did we “make up” partial-birth abortions? For that matter did we “make up” second-trimester abortion techniques that rip a baby’s arms and legs from her torso or which inject poison into her heart?

Pro-abortionists insist there is little, if any, emotional and physical aftermath to abortion. Did we “make up” a growing body of peer-reviewed studies that document that it does! You get the point.

Everybody, including us, will be trying to read the “message” of tonight’s caucus results even as there is scarcely room to take a deep breath before next week’s New Hampshire primary.

Stay tuned!

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