I look at Twitter and Facebook and see so many different friends from high school, college and my professional life reacting all kinds of ways to Iowa. Many of them are excited for vastly different reasons. It got me thinking…
Are you Cruzin’ with Ted Cruz like some of my high school or college friends? Are you feelin’ the Bern like many of my Austin friends?
Either way, before you get all excited about your anti-establishment candidate’s chances of winning this Presidential election, you may want to check out these demographics about Iowa.
The state is 92% white. Ninety-two. That’s about a full 15% greater than the rest of the country. Iowa has 3.2% Black population compared to 13.2% for America as a whole. Similarly, Iowa has 2.2% Asian population compared to 5.4% nationally, 0.5% American Indian compared to 1.2% nationally, and a whopping 5.6% Latino/Hispanic population can be found in Iowa compared to 17.4% in nationwide. Only 4.5% of Iowa’s residents are foreign-born compared to 12.9% in America being from outside the country.
To get more specific, less than 1% of Iowa businesses are Black-owned and less than 1% are Latino/Hispanic owned while slightly over 1% are Asian owned, which is nothing in the arena of the U.S.-wide numbers of Black-owned (7.1%), Latino/Hispanic-owned 8.3%) and Asian-owned businesses (5.7%).
On the economic front, Iowa has a home ownership rate of around 72%, outpacing the country’s 65%. Also, the average household in Iowa houses around 2.4 people compared to 2.6 in the U.S.(matching the fact that there are only around 55 people per square mile in the state compared to roughly 87 nationwide) and Iowa has roughly 12% of its people living below the poverty line compared to 15% for the entire nation.
Considering the above demographics plus the fact that Hilary (53% vs. 46% over Bernie) and Rubio (27% vs. 25% over Cruz) won Polk County - Iowa’s most populous county and home of state capital Des Moines - where the ethnic makeup more closely reflects the rest of America (10% Black, 12% Latino/Hispanic, 4% Asian) you may get the feeling that Iowa matters more to the campaign narratives and media circus than to the eventual nominees’ political chances. (Unless you truly think Bernie and Cruz will win the nominations, in which case Iowa will have had an outsized impact.)
Needless to say, Iowa is far more white, less poor and far less dense than many of the states these candidates will ultimately need to win to secure their party’s respective nominations, so I wouldn’t read too much into it yet.
Entrance polls have Hilary leading with non-white voters and less educated voters nationally, so you probably shouldn’t look to next week’s primary in New Hampshire (94% white, 34% college-educated, and less than 9% below poverty line) for much evidence of what’s to come, either. The same can likely be said for Rubio as Trump is currently around 20 points ahead of Cruz in the New England state with Kasich and Bush also ahead of the young Florida Senator. And those polls were before Cruz won Iowa.
Whether you believe Iowa’s or New Hampshire’s status as the nation’s first caucus and primary states make them President-makers or not, the demographics of two of America’s more homogeneous states should at least give you some pause before cruisin’ to victory with Ted or feelin’ the Bern.
My advice: look beyond Iowa and New Hampshire because when South Carolina holds their primary later this month and the establishment’s preferred candidates - Hilary (even if O’Malley throws his support behind Bernie) and Rubio (assuming there’s mounting pressure for Kasich, Bush and Christie to drop out) - take their ground games, endorsements and deep pockets to the next level, the primaries to come (and the states they’re held in) will potentially tell a much different story about voter preferences and the path to securing the party nominations than what we’ve seen so far.