Jeff Greenfield explains why the Iowa caucuses are terrible and how they got to be that way:
Why do the caucuses take this terrible form? George McGovern in 1972, and Jimmy Carter more successfully in 1976, made the Iowa caucuses a pre-New Hampshire test of political strength. And then they became in effect a “pre-primary primary,” which bring to the state tens of millions of dollars and massive media overkill. In the process, the original purpose of the caucuses—to conduct party business and to talk over local concerns—became completely overwhelmed by the presidential frenzy for which they’re so ill-suited.
As much as the Iowa caucuses suck, I’m under no illusion that they’re going anywhere. The DNC has shown it’s willing to kneecap any state that challenges Iowa’s supremacy.
Still, as Greenfield notes, the Iowa Dem caucus is significantly more undemocratic than the Iowa GOP caucus. In lieu of the 15-percent threshold, they go by “one person, one vote; the candidate with the most votes wins.” Would it be too much to ask iowa Dems to adopt the GOP’s model, which has the benefits of, y’know… being constitutional:
More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court told the states they had to follow that rule in drawing legislative and congressional districts. The court told Georgia it had to dump its “county unit” rule for electing a governor—a process modeled on the Electoral College, that gave rural areas power out of all proportion to their populations. But the Iowa Democratic Party hasn’t gotten the message.