Rudy’s announced he’s skipping the Ames Straw Poll; this isn’t super shocking — the campaign was dropping hints about the possibility months ago. Slightly more surprising is his decision to “remain competitive” there nonetheless, i.e., to go ahead in participate in the caucuses — should he win in January, he’d be the first candidate in 30 years to conquer Iowa without buying Ames (according to the Des Moines Register). His departure also raises the possibility that all the front-runners will forgo Ames this year, leaving Mitt Romney and his millions of dollars to buy the whole meaningless circus for himself.
It’s just another sign of a movement toward a functional “national primary” and how that changes the traditional status of Iowa and New Hampshire in the game.
UPDATE: p_l has a good point:
ana, if you think we’re moving toward a “functional” national primary, you’re nuts. Instead, we’re moving to a disfunctional national primary — one in which only candidates who have lots of corporate backers (or lots of their own money) can compete. And a “national primary” that occurs 10 months before the general election has to be described as “disfunctional” as well.
Indeed, we won’t have a “functional” presidential election system until the press starts acting like its job is informing citizens, rather than providing content that will bring the audiences that attract advertisers.
I meant “functional” as in “de facto”: There’s been no federal movement toward it, just a bunch of states trying to race each other into importance. And I agree that the system, both as it stands and the direction it’s heading, is dysfunctional and skewed to value style over substance and almost completely free of actual political content. I’m not sure if that’s entirely the press’s fault — though they’re obviously responsible for their coverage — their readers, the candidates, and the business of media also play roles. The press can pay attention to criticisms and refuse to be spoonfed, however, and, thanks to forums like this, you can call us on it when we forget to.