Feb. 1, 2016 marked the official start of voting for the presidential race as Iowa became the first state in the nation to caucus for its preferred presidential candidates. Along with Iowa, New Hampshire became the first state in the nation to hold primaries just a week later which, like Iowa, allow voters to go to the polls and vote for their preferred candidates. And because these states are the first in the nation to hold a caucus and a primary in the general election season, they have become the center of attention for the media, political junkies and the presidential campaigns themselves.
In turn, all of this attention has elevated the importance of these elections to the highest, but let’s be real. Are these elections as important as they’re made out to be?
Probably not. I mean sure, they may be important in that they kick off the general election season, but these two states by themselves don’t represent the desires of the rest of the nation, nor do they always predict who will become the Democratic or the Republican nominee. According to an article by the Washington Post, Iowa’s voters tend to be noticeably different than other states. He goes on to elaborate that the average Iowa voter tends to be older and, according to Vox, whiter evangelicals. While New Hampshire’s voter population is largely independent, it also boasts a smaller population compared to Iowa, as well as its population being less religious, according to U.S. News and World Report.
So, while Iowa’s voters may be largely in favor of the conservative candidate, New Hampshire will be in favor of the candidate with the different views. Although past presidential elections may boost the argument that either or both of the elections are influential and important in determining who will eventually become president of the United States, it’s important to remember that neither state alone represents the whole nation. Particularly in political views, in demographics, in economic standing and many other factors are what distinguish these two and every other state in the nation. In other words, no two states are exactly the same. So, let’s not put all of our expectations and money on the outcomes of these two voting processes because Iowa and New Hampshire have as much say in the presidential elections as any other U.S. state
However, with the Iowa caucuses garnering more attention, they appear to influence and weed out the candidates that the state has deemed unfit for the job or unpopular.
Historically, the campaigns have taken the results of these caucuses seriously and some, namely those who scored the lowest number or proportion of votes, have dropped out of the race even before the results are revealed. For example, Governor Martin O’Malley, former Senator Rick Santorum and former Governor Mike Huckabee are among the few who dropped out of the race after poor showings in the Iowa caucuses — even before moving on to the New Hampshire primaries.
This doesn’t give those drop-out candidates the opportunity to prove themselves to the American public. The Iowa caucuses feel more like the test waters for the election season. The results from the Iowa caucuses should neither discourage the candidates nor the voters; rather it should give the campaigns and candidates an overview of what to expect from certain demographics this election season and what can be improved upon. Iowa is an official chance for feedback, essentially, and the same could be said for New Hampshire — especially with Super Tuesday coming up in March, which is the day when many states hold their primaries and caucuses.
Let’s ignore the hype and hostility of these elections and carry on with the support of our preferred candidates. In doing so, we are keeping the focus on the issues that matter the most.