Opinion | Goodbye, Iowa – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist



Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Iowa should never go first again.

It should never go first again because it is an overwhelmingly white, disproportionately older state that distorts the presidential nominating process. In the 2020 campaign, Iowa’s outsize role has already helped doom two black candidates (Cory Booker and Kamala Harris) and given a boost to candidates whose main appeal has been among white voters (like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar). Iowa’s Democrats look nothing like the nation’s Democrats, as Michael Tomasky explained in a Times Op-Ed.

Iowa should never go first again because its caucus excludes even some of its own citizens from voting. Absentee voting is not allowed. Thousands of people with disabilities can’t participate, as Ari Berman (a native Iowan) of Mother Jones noted. Neither can many people who work at night or need to take care of children, as Judd Legum wrote in his newsletter. And the votes from Iowa’s metropolitan areas don’t count as much as votes from rural areas.

Iowa should never go first again because the caucus is rife with strange, complicated rules. One example: Somebody’s vote — even for one of the leading candidates — typically does not count if it comes in a place where that candidate doesn’t get at least 15 percent of the local vote. “These rules are complicated,” The Times’s Nate Cohn noted. “There are ordinary people out there trying to make sense of these rules in running these caucuses.” Many of them struggled.

Iowa should never go first again because last night it botched its caucus when the entire nation was watching, giving the lie to the state’s longtime claim that it is better at conducting democracy than the rest of us. Last night, The Times’s Sydney Ember and Reid Epstein wrote, was “an epic collapse of the rickety system Iowa has relied on for decades.” “

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