Don’t blame Iowa for Julian Castro’s exit

Two days ago, I posted my cousin’s critique of the Iowa caucuses. His was not the standard criticism, which focuses on the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in Iowa. I would not have published analysis that hackneyed, nor would my cousin have written it.

My cousin’s focus, instead, was on the undemocratic nature of the caucuses. They are difficult to participate in, and thus give disproportionate influence to people with time on their hands — college professors, college students, union officials and party activists. The votes of workers and single moms are, in effect, “suppressed.”

The problem, then, isn’t that Iowa goes first in the cycle. The problem is that it goes first with caucuses rather than a primary.

Julian Castro’s withdrawal from the presidential race prompted renewed criticism of the Iowa caucuses — criticism of the hackneyed kind. Iowa isn’t diverse enough to give minority candidates like Castro a fair shot, the failed candidate claimed.

This is nonsense at several levels. First, Barack Obama won Iowa. The bias of Iowa caucus goers isn’t racial or ethnic. It’s ideological — leftist, to be specific.

Second, Julian Castro’s candidacy isn’t popular anywhere. He polls at 1 percent nationally. The first primary or caucuses could have been held in almost any state. Castro still would have been a no-hoper in that contest and, of course, in the wider horse race.

Indeed, there’s little evidence that Castro’s candidacy generated much enthusiasm even among Latino voters. If he had been the choice of an appreciable number of Latinos, his national poll number would have easily exceeded 1 percent.

Castro just wasn’t a good candidate. I have a little more trouble explaining why fairly polished and seemingly charismatic candidates like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris fell so flat. I’m sure of this, though: it wasn’t because of Iowa.

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