First, let me say that I really do like Iowa. Of course the weather is terrible, but the people are nice and politically engaged. Des Moines has turned into a pretty good restaurant town and the hotels there are WAY better than the ones in Manchester, New Hampshire. That said, Iowa isn’t going to pick the next GOP nominee. Its role in 2016 will be more to winnow the field of Evangelical/conservative candidates than to pick the Republican top of the ticket. If ever there were a year when the establishment candidates like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie should skip it all together, this would be it. Since 1980, only two GOP candidates who won a contested Iowa Caucus went on to win the nomination (Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000). While it’s true that all GOP primaries are dominated by older, conservative white men, Iowa is unique in that it is more overwhelmingly male and more conservative than the other early states.
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