Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Choosing the next President: Who really decides?

It seems that every day we get a new poll about who's ahead in Iowa or New Hampshire. Having the first primary and caucus obviously makes these significant contests. However, are the populations of these two states really representative of the rest of the United States? I've never been to Iowa, but have spent some time in New Hampshire. It's a lovely place. But it's nothing like Baltimore (and yes, that's a large part of why I like to go to New Hampshire).

I thought it would be interesting to learn more about these two bellwether states. After all, they hold a pretty powerful place in the choosing of the next president. From the U.S. Census Bureau (2005 figures):
Iowa (total population 1,314,895)
94.9% White
2.3% Black
1.4% Asian

New Hampshire (total population 2,982,085)
96.1% White
1.0% Black
1.7% Asian
How does this compare with other states?
Maryland (total population 5,615,727)
64.0% White
29.3% Black
4.8% Asian

California (total population 36,457,549)
77.0% White
6.1% Black
12.2% Asian

Georgia (total population 9,363,941)
66.1% White
29.8% Black
2.7% Asian

United States (total population 299,398,484)
80.2% White
12.8% Black
4.3% Asian
That's probably enough statistics. You get my point. The populations of these two highly publicized contests to decide the next nominee for the Republican and Democratic parties are not at all representative of the rest of the country. So although I initially thought it was a bad idea for other states to move their own primaries up on the calendar, I'm now thinking that maybe the rest of us ought to have more of a say in who becomes the party's nominee.

The tradition of Iowa and New Hampshire first is quaint. And as outdated as Rudy Giuliani's dress.

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