It has been an excellent instructional stage for the beginning of the exposure of the deep structural problems in American national Presidential politics.
Iowa is no longer a "conservative" state that is dominated by "evangelical" groups. The four (4) political quadrants that the state is segmented into are no longer rural and isolated voting communities.
Davenport, is Iowa's third (3rd) largest city, and, according to Ms. Barney, a chief executive of the Davenport Camber of Commerce, the bucolic, farming image of Iowa is, frankly, "charming, but laughable..."
In fact, according to the census, Iowa is now seventy percent (70%) urban, with farming representing only six percent (6%) of the states gross domestic product. Moreover, seventeen percent (17%) of the state's GDP is manufacturing and fourteen percent (14%) financial/insurance sectors. [source Investment Watch and The Financial Times].
Moreover, even though two thirds [2/3] of the states registered Republicans are "evangelicals," less than half of that number are identified as "hard core," meaning that social issues weigh more in their decision making process than economic issues.
Beneath that surface, is the change in the states population from "overwhelmingly white," to it's current population that has more Latino and African Americans. For example, the Latino population has quadrupled in the last twenty (20) years. Stunningly, of that increase, most of it has been from Latin America in the last decade. This "number" is difficult to read in terms of how it will vote because of the strong influence of the Catholic church in the Latino community, particularly from Central America.
Despite the fact that the economy is listed as the number one (1) concern by Iowan cauci participants, unemployment is slightly higher than the average national number during the Bush Presidency and sits today at 5.7%. Yet Iowa, and it's six (6) electoral votes, has become a "swing state" in the last three Presidential races. Gore in 2000; Bush in 2004; and O'biwan in 2008. Iowa has the 6th best economy in the United States, with Arizona having the worst.
One unsettling economic issue which faces folks in Davenport which has a 6.7% unemployment rate, that pales before nearby Rockford, Illinois, which has an 11.9 percent rate, is that, if, as one of the front runners, Dr. Paul's cuts to the Federal budget are implemented, a city like Davenport could be devastated because the Federal Rock Island Arsenal employs over 3,000 Iowans. They were a mini boom town pumping out equipment for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With this snapshot of the real Iowa being the backdrop for next Tuesday's January 3rd, 2012 Republican Primary and not the pastoral picture of Field of Dreams, what can we expect the results to indicate for predicting the final selection of a Republican nominee?
My answer is nothing at all.
Dr. Paul, with a low turnout will probably win because of the nature of the "Hawkeye cauci" methodology. If he wins Iowa, it will have zero outcome on the nomination. Targeting has already begun to savage Dr. Paul. It is just a matter of time before he crashes on the hard granite of New Hampshire, or gets bogged down in the swamps of South Carolina.
Newt Gingrich will probably finish third (3rd), or (4th) and will survive New Hampshire, do well in South Carolina and then be finally tested in Florida.
If Mr. Goody Two Shoes wins Iowa, he will have the opportunity to finish the job in Florida, or on Super Tuesday.
Bachman and Santorum could surprise everyone, but it will mean almost nothing because they cannot sustain their effort for the duration of the campaign.
Perry, who had an epiphany yesterday could shock the field and finish in the top three (3) and he would have the money to continue to the end. However, I just do not see him doing well in Iowa even with his abortion epiphany because Santorum has the Catholic evangelicals pretty well covered.
The wild card late entry is the Occupods who have announced yesterday that, according to AP, that:
...to the dismay of Iowa Republicans, Occupy activists in Des Moines are vowing to expand their
protests as GOP presidential hopefuls converge on the state that speaks first in the race for the
party's presidential nomination.
Hundreds of Occupy activists from at least 10 states were expected to participate in a "People's
Caucus" near the Capitol to plot activities between now and the Jan. 3 caucuses. The activists are
promising to interrupt candidates at events and camp out at their Iowa campaign offices. They say
they want to change the political dialogue, but critics fear their tactics could tarnish Iowa's reputation
for civil political discourse ahead of the contest. Activists say mass arrests are possible.
The Occupods have also announced that they may attend the cauci and "...vote 'no preference' as a protest but say they have no plans to interfere with the voting itself." Iowa GOP Chairman, Matt Strawn, said that, "It would be an absolute shame if outside agitators ruin the Iowa caucus experience,..."
Shades of the 1960's warnings in the civil rights movement about "...them thar outside ageetators!"
In response, the Iowa Republican Party has announced that it is movingthe vote tabulation to an "undisclosed location," POLITICO has learned.
This of course, is one of the least intelligent responses available to the brain dead Republican Party. You can hear the Ron Paul folks screaming conspiracy from Des Moines already!
This tableau that is forming for January 3rd, 2012, exposes the potential collapse of the electoral process.
We have the preset story line of conspiracy, corruption and fixing elections mixed with the real possibility of outright violence exploding at several of the late night cauci which will be meeting in a hypo agitated environment with operatives from different factions that can benefit nationally by an outbreak of violence.
As of tomorrow, we have three hundred and thirteen days  to President O'biwan's re-election.