should the iowa caucus be first?–practical political vocabulary

the iowa caucus is today; it’s the first official step to electing the next president of the united states.  as mentioned previously here on, each state has a preliminary election; either a caucus or a primary, with the objective of determining the candidate for each of the political parties (democrats and republicans).

welcome to iowa
(larry w. smith, epa)

this wall street journal video,  iowa voters get to be first, should they be? explores some of the issues surrounding iowa’s first in the nation status.

get to appears in the title, and a few times in the video.  it indicates a privilege or an enjoyable activity. the first line of the video is

every election cycle, many voters get to personally ask all the presidential candidates questions.

and at :18

why does a small midwestern state with demographics that don’t resemble the rest of the country get to set the pace for the electorate?

the midwest (midwestern is the equivalent adjective) is the middle of the united states. don’t confuse it with the middle east which is the global region of western asia and northern africa.

mideast map  midwest map iowa

the mideast and the midwest (u.s. census bureau)

set the pace means iowa establishes which candidates will be significant for the rest of the election cycle.

at :25, iowa’s accuracy in selecting (picking) the candidates who eventually represent their party in the general election is discussed

iowa’s record for picking democratic winners is decent, but it’s much less so for the gop. since 1976, only two who won the state went on to win the nomination.

decent means pretty good, not great. gop is grand old party. it’s another name for the republicans.  went on means continued.

candidates iowa caucus 2016
four of the candidates iowans have to pick from: donald trump, hillary clinton, ted cruz & bernie sanders. trump and cruz are republicans. clinton & sanders are democrats. (getty)

in 2012, the republican party wrongly announced that mitt romney won the caucus, when in fact rick santorum was the winner. so at :43 the observation is

it’s no wonder that republican officials in the state are worried like no time before about whether it [iowa] will continue to be first in the nation.

it’s no wonder is an expression that means it’s not a surprise.

reince priebus
rnc national chairman reince priebus (ap/susan walsh)

indeed, the video goes on

in september, rnc chairman reince priebus said that the early states shouldn’t get too comfortable.

rnc is the republican national party. too means excessively. in other words, the national organization was warning iowa not to take being first for granted.

ted cruz campaigning in iowa
iowa supporters say it is a good first state because candidates can get to every single corner of the state. (associated press)

in defense of iowa being first, the chairman of the republican party of iowa jeff kaufmann cites affordable media markets and explains that

any candidate regardless of their bankroll can visit every single corner. if we’re really serious as a country that anybody can become president of the united states, u can’t start in california, u can’t start in texas.  u have to start in a state like iowa.

regardless means it doesn’t matter. bankroll is money.  every single corner  emphasizes that candidates can visit all of iowa. something that would not be possible in bigger states like texas or california.

fun english practice 😎 richyrocks english on youtube

and it’s not only the republicans. at 1:21 the video says

the democrats are also touting iowa’s uniqueness.

touting means speaking for. uniqueness refers to how iowa is different (in a positive way) than other states.

michelle bachmann campaigning with iowa
michelle bachmann (left) won the last iowa straw poll in 2012. her victory and subsequent loss at the caucus caused the straw poll to lose credibility. [ap/charlie neibergall]

the iowa straw poll was a republican event that used to take place the summer before the caucus. it was an informal vote that gave an indication of what to expect the following winter. but as the wsj (wall street journal) video mentions at 1:50, last year it was a source of nerves (jitters)

adding to the state’s jitters, the iowa straw poll was cancelled this year.

in an effort to change the dialogue,

iowa political leaders argue there isn’t any one state can make or break an election, and that iowa’s not about picking winners. it’s about winnowing the field to 2 or 3 contenders.

make or break in this context means that no one state can decide if a campaign wins or fails. winnowing means reducing.

jeff kaufmann republican party of iowa
jeff kaufmann, chairman of the republican party of iowa (brian houlgrave/des moines register)

finally, kaufmann utilizes the second conditional to present a hypothetical situation

if we were gonna be able to predict who was gonna be the nominee after the first time, why would we need the other 49?

in a standard case, second conditional consists of ifa verb in the past that represents a conditional possibility and another verb with the modal would, could or might. in this situation. kaufmann is trying to downplay (minimize) the role of being first.

iowa caucus first in the nation
should iowa be first?

are u interested in who becomes the next president of the u.s.? who do u think it will be?  is the u.s. electoral process confusing? share your opinions under leave a reply


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