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Posted by on Feb 13, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Featured, Politics | 1 comment

Are Iowa and New Hampshire Really That Important?

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a rally in Phoenix. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a rally in Phoenix. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Are Iowa and New Hampshire Really That Important?
by Chris Jennewein

Amid the euphoria, sorrow and angst over the primary results in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s easy to overlook an important fact — these are tiny places that don’t look much like modern America.

Opinion LogoIowa at 3.1 million people is less populous than San Diego County, and New Hampshire with 1.3 million people is slightly smaller than the city of San Diego. Des Moines is smaller than Chula Vista and Manchester, the Granite State’s largest city, is just a little bigger than El Cajon.

Despite the national media frenzy, these states don’t have much impact on the final election tally. Iowa has 6 electoral votes and New Hampshire 3. California, by comparison, has 55 electoral votes.

Both these states are mostly white — 89 percent for Iowa, 92 percent for New Hampshire — with very few African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. In many ways, these two states represent an older, rural, small-town America that has largely vanished.

It’s not hard to understand how Donald Trump‘s anti-immigrant anger and Bernie Sanders‘ anti-Wall Street polemic might resonate in these states, since they are far from the Mexican border and hardly centers of high finance. Iowa’s farmers, who receive massive federal subsidies to grow corn for ethanol, might be particularly open to Sanders’ socialist message, as would New Hampshire’s college students.

The next primary state, South Carolina, is bigger at 4.9 million people, and far more diverse, at only 64 percent white. How will African Americans there respond to Trump’s and Sanders’ messages? A similar question arises for caucus state Nevada, where the white percentage has fallen to 54 percent amid surging Hispanic and Asian populations. South Carolinians will vote in separate party primaries on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27, and Nevadans in separate caucuses on Feb. 20 and 23.

Super Tuesday on March 1, with primaries or caucuses in 13 states, including Texas and Massachusetts, will usher in what are probably the first truly representative primaries in this chaotic election year.

In most years, the nominees are set in stone long before the California primary. But this year, the Golden State’s June 7 primary — with ultimately one in five electoral votes at stake — is looking more and more important.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump may be Presidential front-runners, but the vast majority of Americans haven’t cast their votes yet.

Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego. He has covered every Presidential election since Nixon vs. McGovern in 1972. This article is reprinted from The Times of San Diego which, along with The Moderate Voice, is a member of the San Diego Online News Association.