WASHINGTON — There are several reasons why Iowa is not a good place for the initial test in choosing a presidential nominee.
First among these is that what takes place there this January is not a primary but a caucus. Until the mid 1970s, it played no real part in the national political nominating process.
More importantly, the state lacks the philosophical and ethnic diversity of the national electorate that ultimately will decide the winner a year from now. As far as Republicans are concerned, its ideological base is heavily oriented toward social conservatism. Electability is less of a concern, it seems.
As a rural candidate, Jimmy Carter understood this and stole the march on his opponents here in 1976, convincing Democrats he was a born-again Christian who had the right slant on social issues. By the time his more liberal opponents caught on, he was too far ahead to stop. Former Arkansas governor and preacher Mike Huckabee won these caucuses four years ago with much of the same support. Huckabee, however, failed to win the nomination from voters less concerned about evangelism.