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« Morning Thoughts: Repetition | Blog Home Page | Final Huck, Romney Moves »

Weather Looks Good

DES MOINES -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have based much of their strategy on turning out new caucus-going attendees, and it looks like Mother Nature is cooperating. While snow clouds menace the Iowa capitol this morning, the outlook for Thursday is much better, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures between 15 and 30 degrees throughout the day. So yes, it will be cold, but there could have been a snow storm or something.

Or could there? In fact, as AP legend Mike Glover pointed out to Politics Nation inside a freezing barn in Chariton in November, there has never been bad weather on caucus night. Fear-mongers who would warn of eight feet of snow and two feet of sheer ice need only look at the history books to find out that the weather has always cooperated.

January 19, 2004 was 15 degrees with light wind and overcast by caucus time, but no precipitation fell. January 24, 2000 brought balmy 33 degree temperatures by 6 p.m., down from a high of 41, and with only scattered clouds. It snowed three tenths of an inch in Des Moines on February 12, 1996, with the temperature near freezing, and two tenths of an inch on February 10, 1992, when the high reached 44 degrees. Neither can qualify as a major storm at all, and in fact both months barely had any snow -- just 3 inches more than a third of the way through.

You get the point: It may snow a little bit, but for the most part, the Iowa parties have done an exceptional job picking a day with good weather for their nominating contests. A review of weather reports going back to the first modern caucuses in 1972 shows caucus night has never seen more than half an inch of snow (1988) and has enjoyed more than its share of good weather (49 degrees in 1984).

Could it be that Mother Nature is an Iowa resident and really loves being able to examine the candidates up close and personal? Or does she just approve of Iowa holding their nominating contests first? The real question: Why hasn't New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner got the same talent for picking dates for his state's primary?