Jeffrey Greenfield also has a piece in Slate and he notes that it is the Democrats who have the democratic election problem in Iowa, not the Republicans.
The original purpose of the [Iowa] caucuses—to conduct party business and to talk over local concerns—became completely overwhelmed by the presidential frenzy for which they’re so ill-suited. As Drake University professor Dennis Goldford notes, “The presidential preference just began as something piggybacking on an ordinary set of party functions, and it’s been blown way out of proportion.”
Beyond that, the Democratic Party’s caucus method requires not 10 to 15 minutes at a polling place, but two or three hours in a school lunchroom or library. This is why turnout—measured by eligible voters—ran under 6 percent in 2000 (the last time both parties held contests).
The Republican Party, by contrast, has recognized that the change in function, from local party business to presidential contest, requires a change in form. The GOP caucus process is straightforward and simple: You show up, perhaps listen to appeals from candidate’s supporters, and then write the name of your choice on a blank piece of paper and drop it into a box. The results are phoned into headquarters and tabulated. That’s it—one person, one vote; the candidate with the most votes wins.
But the Democrats have a totally different thing going on; one that discards at least two key elements of an open, fair system: the secret ballot and the one-person-one-vote principle. When you show up at a Democratic caucus, you and your fellow participants divide up into different corners of a room, based on who you are for. You don’t submit a secret ballot; you stand up to be publicly counted. What if you’re in a union and want to pick someone your union hasn’t endorsed, and your shop steward is there, watching you from across the room? Or the person who holds your mortgage? Or your spouse? Tough.
The article explains even more silliness in the Democratic Party rules. It is fun, though kinda sad, reading.