Should Iowa continue to vote first
Oliver Bugbee, Staff Writer
It’s that time again, the election season is here. We investigate: the democratic primary is a tight race. As of January 31st, a NBC/Wall Street Journal nationwide poll shows Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders taking the lead by a 1 point margin at 27%, with former Vice President Joe Biden in a close second at 26%. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren trails at 15%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg sits at 7%. Iowa’s official winner has yet to be announced at the time this article is being written. Pete Buttigieg is ahead of Bernie Sanders by just 3 S.D.E.’s (state delegate equivalents).
No matter what happens, Iowa is only the first state in this primary, yet people campaign there quite excessively and the media talks about its polls more often than many states with larger, more diverse populations. Why is that? Why is Iowa so important? This goes for New Hampshire as well, which is the second state in the primary—candidates make frequent trips to this great New England state. Why do these two states get so much coverage on their polling and why do candidates invest so much in them? We investigate.
Iowa has been the first state for a long time. In fact, its true influence as the first state to vote came in the 1970s, when Jimmy Carter’s campaign had its biggest focus on Iowa. Carter’s prioritization of Iowa prompted its significance and fame for its status as the first state to vote. However, it seems a little strange that candidates focus so much on Iowa, for a few reasons. One of the reasons Iowa, along with New Hampshire, may not be fit for being so prioritized in an election is because of population demographics. The two states do not represent the demographics of America. Iowa is 85.3% non-Hispanic white, New Hampshire is 90.0% non-Hispanic white. Meanwhile, the United States as a whole is 60.4% non-Hispanic white. This is
an alarming difference, and it is quite bizarre to think that people pay so much attention to two of the whitest states in the country in the election cycle. This is not the only problem, as New Hampshire is also quite small in terms of population, holding just 1.356 million people. Iowa has about 3.156 million people, so the two states combine to a bit over 4.3 million people. The United States has over 300 million people. These two states are a tiny fraction of our country, and they do not accurately represent our population in terms of racial diversity at all.
The Iowa Caucus, along with the Electoral College, has lost confidence from Americans as well. Many articles have been written in the past week questioning the integrity and validity of the voting process in the Iowa Caucus. In fact, according to a Politico poll from last May, 50 percent of Americans believe that we should use the popular vote for presidential elections, 34 percent say we should use the Electoral College and 16 percent say they have no opinion. This may be only one poll, but it is still significant to the movement to abolish the Electoral College.
You may ask, how are the Iowa Caucus and the Electoral College related? Iowa’s caucus system is similar to the Electoral College in the way that it is based on amounts of delegates, and not the popular vote. This is upsetting for candidates that have won the popular vote in this state in elections. For example, one fact about this election is that even with 97% of precincts reported in Iowa, Bernie Sanders has the higher popular vote, yet Buttigieg is in the lead with S.D.E.’s (state delegate equivalents). However you prefer to interpret this information, one thing is clear: the candidate that received the most votes from the people of Iowa did not win.
This happened in the 2016 election as well, when Hillary Clinton received the popular vote over Donald Trump, however President Trump received many more delegates. There have been many attempts to refute this, as Trump and his base have repeatedly claimed that there were
“millions of illegal votes casted by illegal immigrants.” However, there is no proof for this claim, and it is false according to many notorious fact-checking websites, including PolitiFact.
Maybe all of the Iowa Caucus trouble is for nothing. The winner may not even win the Democratic nomination. Or, Iowa may be important, and we still don’t have a clear winner. We do know that one thing seems to be evident: Iowa and New Hampshire should not decide the election, whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. If Democratic officials have such a “difficult time” managing an iPhone app to collect precinct data in a caucus, maybe we can’t trust this system. Maybe it’s time to make Iowa use the same system as the rest of our country; maybe we shouldn’t make it the first state to vote. New Hampshire may use the standard voting style primary, however it is not diverse enough to be looked at so intensely during the election cycle. A potential solution could be to change when these states vote, and have Super Tuesday be the first day that states vote, because multiple states vote on this day. Therefore, campaigns will go to more states, and not just the “battleground” states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Hampshire. There are 50 states, let’s show that all of them are important to our nation.