Friday, February 7, 2020

The Case for a Delaware First in the Nation Vote


Iowa has be the "first in the nation" caucus for Democrats since 1972 and for Republicans since 1976 because of the state's complex system of local caucuses, county conventions, etc. 

In recent times, questions have been raised about the fairness, continued viability, and democratic (or anti-democratic) nature of continuing to allow Iowa to be the first state in the country to hold a vote in determining who will end up being the candidates for president. These questions have gone into overdrive since the 2020 Democratic caucus, when the results took days to become known and no candidate was able to lay claim to the title of "winner" as Pete Buttigieg won the delegate count but Sen. Bernie Sanders conclusively won the popular vote count. 
Additionally, the 2020 Democrat field began with a diverse group of dozens of candidates but by the time of the caucus it was realistically down to four white candidates. 

Iowa is not a representative state when it comes to race and minority candidates have long held that giving Iowa the first spot (and the electoral bump winning the state provides) disadvantages minority candidates. This is compounded by the fact that the second state to hold a vote is New Hampshire, also a very white state.

The United States as a whole is 73% white, 12.7% black, and 17.6% Hispanic. On the other hand, Iowa is 90.6% white. Additionally, it's a fairly rural state with an urbanization rate of 64% vs. 80.7% for the US.

A big reason why supporters of keeping Iowa the "first in the nation" is that its small population gives lesser-known candidates the ability to build up support easier than in other states and for less money.

I'd like to make the case that if we are going to continue having a "first in the nation" contest, that the state should be Delaware.

First, some similarities. 

Like Iowa, Delaware is small. Indeed, it's the second smallest state in the country. (New Hampshire isn't much bigger, it's the fifth smallest state). It size would allow campaigns of any size the opportunity to gain traction and visibility without having to spend tens of millions of dollars.

With Delaware's small population, candidates could very easily shake hands with the majority of voters and pursued them to their side face-to-face.

In terms of potential Electoral College votes during the general election, Delaware has 4, between Iowa's 6 and New Hampshire's 3. But the state physically sits near Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. People who vote for similar candidates don't exist within the boundaries of a county or state, support bleeds into other areas. The border regions hold a greater mix of party preference before you head out into solid red or blue territory. 

Maryland and New Jersey are fairly blue and Virginia and Pennsylvania have acted as toss-up states in recent elections. Toss-up states are what matters during the general election and winning a nearby state in a caucus/primary can help boost turnout elsewhere. The combined EC votes of those states plus Delaware is 60. Currently, when you look at the states that touch Iowa, the EC votes equal 64. Again, very similar.

Delaware and Iowa are tied when it comes to how often the state voted for the eventual winner during the general election. Since 1972, both states have gone to the winner 9 times.

Onto the differences.

Iowa is 90.6% white. Delaware is 68.9% white. The US is 73% white. This makes Delaware much more representative of the racial diversity of the country. Despite Iowa's larger population, there are actually more African Americans living in Delaware than in Iowa, around twice as many in fact.

In terms of urbanization, 83.3% of Delaware's population lives in a town or city. That's near the national rate of 80.7%. Iowa's urban population is a mere 64%.

When it comes to education, Delaware also more closely matches the country. Over 33% of Americans have a bachelor's degree or higher. In Delaware it's 31%, Iowa is 28%.

Conclusions

Iowa is simply not representative of either the United States or the base of the Democrat Party. On top of that, the Iowa Democratic Party has lost all faith and trust of voters after the colossal botching of the 2020 caucus.

Delaware maintains the positives associated with Iowa (a small population that gives lesser known or underfunded campaigns a chance to break through) while providing a number of metrics that are much more inline with the country as a whole.

On top of it all, there's historic symmetry with the fact that Delaware was the literal first state in the nation, having ratified the Constitution before any other state. 

If the parties continue to insist on a single, first state to hold a vote, I think Delaware should be given serious thought. 


--Jacob Bogle, 2/7/2020
JacobBogle.com
AccessDPRK.com
Twitter.com/JacobBogle

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