The Atlantic Politics Daily: Will Iowa Always Get to Go First?

Why the two early states could be on the cusp of losing their privileged positions. Plus: About that Joe Rogan endorsement.

It’s Friday, January 24. The CDC has confirmed another U.S. case of coronavirus. “Based on what’s known so far, the virus is dangerous,” James Hamblin writes, “but not unprecedentedly so.”

On Capitol Hill, the impeachment trial continues. Here’s David Graham on the latest news to emerge from that world.

In the rest of today’s newsletter: Eyes on Iowans, who get to vote first. Plus: Joe Rogan “feels the Bern,” and Tulsi Gabbard really wants more attention.



Early Voting Privileges

The bloated field of Democrats who mounted presidential runs this cycle was the most racially diverse ever. But looking at the frontrunners these days, after months of culling, you’d never know it.

The highest-polling candidate of color, political newbie Andrew Yang, is trailing far, far behind the all-white heavyweights. Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, is averaging … 0 percent in the national polls.

As my colleague Ron Brownstein writes, the unbearable whiteness of the 2020 field has some Democrats pointing fingers at the two states that vote first: Iowa (85 percent white) and New Hampshire (90 percent white).

Could the two early states actually be on the cusp of losing their privileged position? If the eventual Democratic nominee loses to President Trump, expect a reckoning, Ron argues.

If Democrats lose again, almost every accepted belief in the party about how to contest elections could be rattled—including about relying on a primary calendar that gives primacy to two mostly white states on behalf of a party that is becoming only more diverse.

Read the rest.

—Saahil Desai


(Michelle Rohn)

The über-popular podcast host Joe Rogan gave a sort of unofficial endorsement to Bernie Sanders this week, leading the Vermont senator to tout this support on Twitter.

But considering Rogan’s track record of making misogynistic comments and dabbling in conspiracy theories, Sanders’s showcasing of Rogan’s endorsement ignited a wildfire of controversy.

“Few men in America are as popular among American men as Joe Rogan,” Devin Gordon writes. His August 2019 story tries to understand the enormous wave Rogan has been riding:

The bedrock issue, though, is Rogan’s courting of a middle-bro audience that the cultural elite hold in particular contempt—guys who get barbed-wire tattoos and fill their fridge with Monster energy drinks and preordered their tickets to see Hobbs & Shaw … He shares their passions and enthusiasms at a moment when the public dialogue has branded them childish or problematic or a slippery slope to Trumpism.

Read the rest.



1. “Much of Tulsi Gabbard’s complaint reads less like a legal argument than a stump speech.”

A 2020 Democratic presidential contender is suing Hillary Clinton, arguing that the former Secretary of State had maliciously called Gabbard a “Russian asset” in an act of defamation.

But the suit is flimsy and reads more like a rallying cry for relevance from a campaign stuck at a statistical zero, David Frum argues.

2. “By doing nothing to ensure that the process is fairly constructed to get at the truth, John Roberts is in fact taking a side.”

The Chief Justice has had opportunities to resolve impasses over facts and evidence in Trump’s impeachment trial, but has stayed out of the partisan mess. Still, Democrats should be prodding him to play a more active role, rather than letting Mitch McConnell and the Trump defense team manipulate the process, Kim Wehle argues.

3. “Equality premised on the power to end life is not true equality at all.”

Trump headlined the March for Life in Washington today, the first sitting president to make remarks at the event in the decades it’s been ongoing.

If you’re still thinking about the abortion-rights issue, read this argument from Erika Bachiochi:

Many Americans think of Roe v. Wade as the defining Supreme Court decision on the issue of abortion. But a 1992 high-court decision actually governs abortion law. That ruling rested on fateful assumptions about the relationship between abortion and women’s equality. But in so doing, it has served to enshrine social and professional inequalities, which mothers must fight against every day.

Read the rest.


Marines arriving on a beach outside Beirut, Lebanon, on July 15, 1958 (BETTMANN / GETTY)

The Beginnings of American Intervention in the Middle East

“We are opening a Pandora’s Box,” Dwight Eisenhower warned when he ordered the first U.S. combat mission in the region. Little did he know how right he would be.

Uri Friedman writes:

The trajectory of U.S. involvement is one of American leaders gradually putting stock in their ability to achieve their objectives through discrete military action and then investing everything in costly military misadventures, to the point that we’ve come full circle: The American public and its leaders are profoundly ambivalent about even limited and critical missions, such as the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Read the rest.


Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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