Should we change the primary calendar to de-emphasize Iowa? | The Tylt
Should we change the primary calendar to de-emphasize Iowa?
FiveThirtyEight recently weighed in on potentially re-ordering the primary calendar, putting more of an emphasis on states with demographics that represent the nation as a whole. Iowa and New Hampshire are very white and lean more evangelical Christian than the rest of the nation, changing who they throw their support behind in these early contests.
The early states play a key role in winnowing the candidate field, and a state electorate that looks more like the party as a whole may vote in a way that better reflects the opinion of Democrats across the country.
...Illinois is the state whose population comes closest to being a cross section of Democratic voters.So under this hypothetical where Democrats prioritize states that best reflect their party, Illinois would go first in the nominating process, and Iowa and New Hampshire would move toward the back of the line. Now, if this calendar followed the current setup where four “carve-out” states vote by themselves at the start of the primary process, the three states after Illinois would be New Jersey, New York and Florida. Just after the first four would be Nevada, which currently goes third, reflecting the fact that there has been some effort to increase diversity at the start of the real presidential primary calendar.
Some larger states have already begun pushing back against Iowa and New Hampshire's primacy in the presidential race. California and Texas have both opened up early voting in their states, beginning at the same time as Iowans are caucusing for their candidates. Per NBC News:
The explosion of early voting and reshuffling of the primary calendar in 2020 could transform the Democratic presidential nominating contest, potentially diminishing the power of the traditional, tiny and homogeneous early states in favor of much larger and more diverse battlegrounds. That would be a boon to the best-known candidates with warchests sizable enough to compete in big states early.
And it would empower black and Hispanic voters in large, multiracial states like California, which was a virtual afterthought at the back of the primary calendar in 2016. Criticism has mounted for years about the primacy of New Hampshire and Iowa, which are both around 90 percent white.
"Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said when the state moved its primary last year.
Residents of Iowa and New Hampshire, however, vehemently argue they deserve their First In The Nation status. They claim their smallness allows voters to get to know candidates in a way they would not be able to in other, larger states. Per NPR:
Iowa's smallness is in some ways a feature, not a bug, in that it allows less well funded candidates a fair shot (see: Rick Santorum, 2012, and Mike Huckabee, 2008). The state's caucus "ensures that there is at least one place where a candidate with a compelling message has a shot at winning, regardless of money or national fame," as the Des Moines Register's Kathy O'Bradovich argued in October.
...There's also more to being representative than race and ethnicity. A 2009 paper by the University of Iowa's Michael Lewis-Beck and Missouri's Peverill Squire found that Iowa was the most representative state economically at the time, as well as relatively representative (12th out of 50 states) when a broad range of social, demographic and economic factors were included.
Voters in these states also argue they are able to better tune out the noise that comes with large political campaigns in this social media-driven era. Their emphasis on retail politics gives them an opportunity to get to know candidates better than in other states.
As a result, even in this new, more chaotic political environment, New Hampshire still has the kind of intimate, civically minded electorate, as well as deep grassroots tradition of participation needed to make this state an ideal place to thoroughly test the mettle of our future presidents. And despite the money being spent on the campaigns -- and the changing way we communicate with each other -- New Hampshire voters will this Tuesday once again demonstrate that they have a special role to play in the presidential selection process.
The tradition of retail politics in the Granite State isn't going anywhere. Voters here just might have to get more comfortable with the idea that we are increasingly sharing the process with a much bigger audience than our little corner of New England.