All eyes are on Iowa, but are conservatives asking the right questions?

All eyes are on Iowa, but are conservatives asking the right questions?
© Greg Nash

The Iowa caucuses are upon us, which means that all eyes are fixed on the Midwest. As candidates make their final pleas to voters, pollsters and pundits are debating who will win in Iowa. 

The real question is not who Iowans will choose, but how many will show up to the caucuses to cast a vote at all. 

I say this for several reasons. First, while the Iowa voters are a highly informed electorate, they don’t always select the candidate who will go on to be president. Since 1972, caucus participants selected the party nominee 55.56 percent of the time. The caucuses are a gauge of where the wind is blowing, but they’re still too far off from the general election to be definitive.

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Second, the reality is that President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE has been polling well not only among conservatives but among independents and moderates as well. Just because someone polls well among Democrats doesn’t mean that they’ll win the White House. 

This might sound obvious, but amid the media furor and excitement, it bears repeating. The person who stands the best chance of winning the general election is the person who can successfully appeal to middle-of-the-road and undecided voters. Thus far, that candidate seems to be Donald Trump.

Third, there’s a reason that #VoteBlueNoMatterWho has been trending among liberal voters online. The vast majority of these voters have one mission and one mission only: get Donald Trump out of the Oval Office. Despite all that the president has done to strengthen the economy and create jobs, they’ve done everything they can to stymie the president and his policies.

It’s an inefficient and unappealing strategy, as this failed attempt at impeachment shows. But the irrational hatred of President Trump on the left knows no bounds. Many voters will do whatever it takes to ensure a Democrat victory.

This, ultimately, is why we need to look at the numbers rather than the names that emerge from Iowa. If a comparatively small number of Democrats turn out, that indicates that liberal voters aren’t too eager to make their voices heard.  

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If, on the other hand, Democrats turn out in droves and voter participation is at a spectacular high, conservative activists should take note — and take action. High participation in the caucuses means that we’ll need to pound the pavement and knock on doors to ensure that a sufficient number of center-right voters make it to the polls in November.

For what it’s worth, I’d guess that Sanders will pull in the most votes in Iowa, but it will be a hotly contested race on a potentially snowy night. But I have no expectations. If 2016 taught America anything, it’s that polling predicts nothing. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE led the vast majority of polls and predictions in the days leading up to the 2016 election — but she lost, and the country is better off for it. 

I urge my fellow conservatives to pay attention, but I hope that they’ll pay attention to the right things. We’re lucky in that we already have a spectacular candidate whose track record on economic growth, religious liberty and defense of life has attracted even those who were skeptical of him in 2016. 

The Democrats cannot say the same, and they’ll spend the next several months battling it out in a fight that will only get uglier with every passing week. Let’s not interest ourselves in a battle that doesn’t concern us. Instead, let’s throw our efforts into preparing common-sense voters to cast their ballot in the vote that really matters in November. Together, we can ensure another four years of prosperity and freedom for this great nation of ours.

Timothy Head is the executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.