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Barack Obama's Iowa connection could cost the state

August 22, 2008 |  1:05 pm

DENVER -- Iowa no doubt always will occupy a special place in Barack Obama's heart. But might Iowa come to rue the role its Democratic voters played in propelling him toward the party nomination he accepts next week? Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama at a recent townhall meeting with voters in Virginia

David Yepsen, the state's premier political journalist, has raised that prospect.

Iowa could pay a stiff price, Yepsen asserts in the Des Moines Register, if Obama fails to capitalize on the year's Democratic advantages and gets beat in the general election. In that scenario, Yepsen predicts some activists will point an accusing finger at Iowa, seeing in the '08 outcome a repeat of 2004, when John Kerry rode his win in the state's oh-so-important caucuses to the Democratic nomination but then fell short in November.

If Obama likewise loses this fall, Yepsen writes, "Iowa's critics will have more ammunition to make the argument that the state's leadoff position (in the nominaion process) doesn't work for the party, since, once again, it elevated a candidate too liberal or too bad at campaigning to win the general election."

He concludes: "While all Americans have a lot at stake in this presidential election, Iowa also has its caucuses at stake."

Of course, if Obama defeats John McCain, the state that first rallied to his cause will be a lock to retain its special status on the Democratic calendar. And at the moment, Iowa appears prepared to do its part to put Obama in the White House. A recent University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll showed him leading McCain, 50% to 43%.

Obama should win Iowa -- a variety of factors favor him there, including the cold shoulder McCain turned toward its GOP caucuses earlier this year and, even more so, in his 2000 presidential bid. Indeed, among the states Obama needs to snatch from the '04 Republican column to win the presidency, Iowa seems the one he can most count on.

But as Yepsen warns, Iowa could pay a steep price if a couple of other red states don't follow suit.

-- Don Frederick

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