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The second-biggest town in Sioux County, Iowa.

Where second place is really great

01/03/12 01:13PM

Last night on the show, we talked about the Iowa caucuses' history of picking not winners but losers -- if you do too badly as a candidate, you'll tend to drop out. Iowa does some of the first real winnowing of the field.Over at Patchwork Nation, Dante Chinni focuses on one spot in northwestern Iowa, Sioux County, where it has historically been better to come in second. He writes:ake a look at who has come in second in Sioux in the last three contested Iowa caucuses: 1996, Sen. Robert Dole; 2000, Texas Gov. George Bush; and 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain. read more

Up next: Indiana anti-union bill

Up next: Indiana anti-union bill

01/03/12 11:13AM

On Wednesday morning, national Republican politics will shift away from Iowa and toward New Hampshire and South Carolina for the primaries there. But at the local level, where Republican politics have been turning into Republican policy, at least part of the game moves to Indiana.The Indiana state legislature opens its session tomorrow, with the Republican majority sounding in a hurry to pass a law that effectively bans union shops. From the New York Times:The leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature say that when the legislative session opens on Wednesday, their No. read more

Santorum: 'Your blood will boil'

Santorum: 'Your blood will boil'

01/03/12 09:19AM

Rick Santorum sent a fundraiser last night with the subject line "Your blood will boil." He wrote:What an amazing week it has been in Iowa with every poll showing momentum continuing to trend our way. I am humbled by the enthusiasm and support – but I need your help.Because of this dramatic political shift, my opponents are frantically using every tool they have to attack me. The media, of course, is glad to highlight them in order to raise their credibility. One robocall asked thousands of Iowans to call my personal cell phone after accusing me of being a liberal. read more

Morning Maddow: January 3

01/03/12 07:49AM

Defense Secretary Panetta to offer a strategy for cutting the Pentagon budget.Virginia is the next state to have a go at voter identification laws.America's water infrastructure is leaky.Some states can't (or won't) keep up with federal regulations, threatening their federal highway funding.Maine legislature gets a new Native American representative.Mom reunites with the child she gave up for adoption... 77 years ago.World's first hybrid sharks discovered off Australia.A cool reason to stay up late tonight (or get up early tomorrow). read more

Fancy a Wager, luv?

Fancy a Wager, luv?

01/02/12 07:12PM

Americans are so far inside this year's presidential elections, it probably wouldn't hurt to take a step back.So let's cross the Atlantic for a minute, and see what the English bookmakers are thinking:Here are today's odds for ultimately winning the November election from Ladbrokes:Barack Obama 11-8 Mitt Romney 2-1 Ron Paul 16-1 Newt Gingrich 16-1 Rick Santorum 33-1 Hillary Clinton 40-1 Rick Perry 40-1 Jon Huntsman 40-1 Michele Bachmann 100-1 Gary Johnson 200-1And at William Hill:Barack Obama 5-4 Mitt Romney 6-4 Ron Paul 16-1 Newt Gingrich 16-1 Jon Huntsman 40-1 Rick Santorum 50-1 Rick Per read more

Ahead on the 1/2 Maddow Show

01/02/12 06:52PM

Tonight's guests:Doug Heye, senior advisor to the Iowa Republican Party, former communications director for the RNC, conservative strategist and veteran of numerous political campaignsDavid Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University and former political writer for the Des Moines RegisterNate Silver, author of Five Thirty Eight electoral politics blog at the New York Times read more

"He had this crazy idea about breeding pine trees."

Instant Republican nostalgia, just add DeLorean

01/02/12 02:49PM

Tracking how Ron Paul has explained away his racist newsletters requires its own timeline. He's been doing this for a while now, since around the time "Back to the Future" was released. Now that he's doing it again, and two days prior to the Iowa caucus, it seems like a curious time to dis the 1964 Civil Rights Act (again).About four minutes into his interview yesterday with CNN, Congressman Paul reiterated that he's all for the Jim Crow-killing aspects of the Civil Rights Act. read more

In Iowa, the Iron Lady finds a titanium spine

In Iowa, the Iron Lady finds a titanium spine

01/02/12 12:41PM

With her poll numbers in single digits, Michele Bachmann is not looking like a giant factor in Iowa just now. But the congresswoman from Minnesota is threatening Iran, saying she'd put U.S. missiles on alert to warn them off nuclear weapons. And she's also threatening to upset the Iowa horse race. read more

Occupy Fracking, earthquake edition

01/02/12 10:20AM

I've been following Occupy Youngstown, Ohio, because I'm interested in their forceclosure defense and in their town, one of the poorest in the country. But Occupy Youngstown has also been active in the movement to stop fracking, the method for extracting natural gas is suspected in groundwater contamination and -- eek! -- earthquakes. On New Year's Eve, Occupy Youngstown tweeted that they'd just felt an earthquake in a deli after their general assembly. read more