Could the Iowa court decision mark the end of the Iowa caucus?

Chris Cillizza has argued that the Iowa Supreme Court decision that established gay marriage might disadvantage moderate candidates in the 2012 GOP primary. Cillizza notes that Heartland Iowa, a lefty Iowa blog, lays out a timeframe that would include a November 2011 ballot initiative that Nate Silver seems to think would be close, but the pro-traditional-marriage forces would prevail. (I have to say, I wonder what the presence of married gay couples does to his model)

UPDATE: This even happening would require getting it on the ballot, which would require the cooperation of the Democratic legislature. I kinda doubt that’ll happen, don’t you?

Anyways, back to Cillizza:

Assuming that time line is right, the fight over the constitutionality of banning same sex marriages would fall right in the heart of the run-up to the 2012 presidential caucus.

And, with the Republican caucus typically dominated by social conservatives, you can imagine the long-term impact today’s ruling could have on the presidential jockeying.

At first glance, the decision should help candidates — like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — who are closely aligned with the social conservative wing of the Republican party.

He then argues that this could really hurt Jon Huntsman:

One person who could potentially be hurt by today’s ruling is Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) who has staked out a moderate position on the issue — expressing his support for civil unions earlier this year despite the fact that large numbers of Utah voters oppose the idea. "I’m a firm believer in the traditional construct of marriage, a man and a woman," the governor told the Deseret News. "But I also think that we can go a greater distance in enhancing equal rights for others in nontraditional relationships."

Let me offer another thought. This could lead to a further minimization of the Iowa Caucus. My understanding is that Mitt Romney, who must be considered the front-runner, is already trying to figure out how to avoid Iowa or somehow reshuffle the deck. A number of candidates could reasonably try to skip it.

Iowa Republican Party politics will be very, very interesting over the next couple of years. I expect this to be ask much solved by the rules guys and party officials as by actual voters. But that’s really the point of caucuses, isn’t it?


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