Government

Political analyst Cook sees culture, values driving political realignment

Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report discusses the recent midterm election and its implications on Friday during the taping of “Iowa Press,” which can be seen this weekend on Iowa Public Television. (James Q. Lynch/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)
Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report discusses the recent midterm election and its implications on Friday during the taping of “Iowa Press,” which can be seen this weekend on Iowa Public Television. (James Q. Lynch/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

JOHNSTON — The impact and importance of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses may be enhanced rather than diminished by California’s decision to move its presidential primary earlier in the nominating process.

“The law of unintended consequences acts again,” Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report said Friday about California’s decision to move its primary from June to March 3, 2020.

That means early voting in the primary will begin Feb. 3, 2020 — the same day Iowa Democrats and Republicans have their precinct caucuses.

“Will it dilute Iowa and New Hampshire?” he asked, referring to Iowa’s leadoff caucuses and New Hampshire’s leadoff primary.

“If you’re going to have people, millions of people from coast to coast voting during the month of February, having a win, coming in first or second on Feb. 3, hey, that would be a pretty good thing to happen,” Cook said Friday during the taping of this weekend’s “Iowa Press” for Iowa Public Television.

“So I don’t know that it erodes Iowa’s importance at all,” he said, adding that it likely will add a “weird dynamic” to the nomination process.

Cook also predicted that Iowa is likely going to be in the “leans Republican” category going into 2020. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities for Democrats.

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Voters in states characterized by small town, rural populations generally are trending more Republican, but Cook noted Iowa went from having three of four GOP U.S. House members to electing three Democratic representatives Nov. 6.

He believes there is a realignment taking place in American politics as highly educated, high-income white voters move away from the Republican Party toward the Democratic Party.

“At the same time, we’re seeing a lot of working-class whites that are moving away from the Democratic Party and toward the Republican Party, and it seems to be on cultural things, geographic and cultural issues, more than economic,” Cook said.

“For some people it’s abortion or guns or environment or maybe attitudes toward President Trump,” he said. “We’re not talking about economics here. We’re talking about culture and values and the people that hate him are the people that don’t like me or vice versa.”

Cook doesn’t see that changing because of gerrymandering of congressional and state legislative districts or the new media culture that is “creating these ideological echo chambers on each side that is increasing the intensity of polarization to a point that we never saw back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.”

“Iowa Press” can be seen at 7:30 p.m. today and at noon Sunday on IPTV, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on IPTV World, and online at IPTV.org.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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