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Who Exactly Made Iowa the Kingmaker of Presidential Politics?

Written By Jeff Edwards

Posted February 3, 2016

I have often wondered what the title of this article explicitly questions.

Who exactly made the people of Iowa the ones to determine who gets to stay in the race and who is now to drop out?

Certainly there is no law or requirement that a candidate leave the race after Iowa, nor is it explicit that the winner will become the nominee.

But more often than not, the winner of Iowa goes on to receive the nomination, and more often than not, multiple candidates will pack up their belongings and head home after Iowa.

That’s a lot of responsibility for one state to have, considering the controversial candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

As a result, I’ve started to question whether this is even healthy for democracy.

Who is Iowa, Again?

Look, I’ve been to Iowa, and I get it: it’s a nice state.

The people were nice, it was clean, and true to reputation, there was corn as far as the eye could see.

But the more I think about it, it was not exactly fully representative of the population of the United States. As much as race often gets injected into politics, it is worth noting that Iowa is about 92% white.

Not only that, but it is predominantly rural. See: corn as far as the eye can see.

In addition, it’s pretty much just a big square in the middle of the United States.

It doesn’t have coastland, there are no mountains of which to speak, and the concerns of the common Iowan simply are not that of much of America.

Winning and showing well in this race is a big deal, and that means speaking to the concerns of Iowans has become the de facto litmus test for who has what it takes to become president.

I don’t know if that’s healthy. I don’t know that men like Rand Paul, who are not faring well in this one particular state, deserve to be excluded from the process going forward because they perhaps don’t support corn subsidies.

(I don’t know if Paul does or not; it is just an example.)

Perhaps it is Time for a Change?

Granted, I’ll also confess that I don’t think it’s healthy for there to be one national primary in which the nominee is selected in one day.

It does help to have some sort of staggering effect so that we can narrow the field down over time and really get to know the candidates.

The problem is that so much hinges on Iowa. The reality is that the rest of America is only going to get to know the top two candidates because they are the ones who, for some reason, could speak Iowan.

I’m starting to think a kind of regional election kick-off might be a better approach.

There’s nothing wrong with including Iowa in the first election, but why not on the same day add New Hampshire, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, and — what the heck — let’s let Alaska get in on the mix.

Why not let the initial litmus test be a regional competition where more than one group of Americans get a say?

At the time I’m writing this article, the caucuses have not begun, but by the time you are reading it, it’ll be a done deal.

The winners of the state are going to have a statistical advantage to gaining the nomination, and those who maybe didn’t like corn are out of the mix.

Ask yourself if some very good candidates of whom you wanted to see more in your state are no longer an option.

And ask yourself if you really trust Iowans to get it right every time.

I think it’s about time we let multiple versions of the American experience get it on the action of making kings and queens, so let’s see where that takes us in the end.

Congrats to the winners of Iowa, and to the losers. I’m hoping you stick around by the time my state comes around and I get to weigh in on this election, too.