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Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014

Keep Iowa first

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Since 1972, Iowa has been making a big splash in presidential races as the first state to caucus, with the New Hampshire Primary typically making headlines about a week later.

They're the first two presidentially-minded contests in the nation and they deserve to stay that way.

Apparently, officials in Florida do not agree.

Despite the Republican National Committee's decision to set the Iowa caucuses as its opening contest on Feb. 6, Florida has scheduled its primaries for Jan. 31.

Gov. Terry Branstad has vowed to move the caucuses ahead if Florida refuses to move its primaries back. A similar situation pushed Iowa's date to Jan. 3 in 2008, and the rule change was seemingly an effort to keep that from happening again.

New Hampshire has a state law mandating their primary be at least a week before any other primary.

Regardless of how it happens, keeping the two states first makes sense.

Of the 15 candidates to win contested races in Iowa, nine have gone on to win their party's nomination, while no one finishing lower than third ever has. (Yes, Bill Clinton pulled just 3 percent of the caucus vote in 1992, but Sen. Tom Harkin was on the ballot -- pulling 76 percent of the vote -- and half of those who did not vote for him were "uncommitted.")

Winners of the New Hampshire Primary have had a similar success rate.

For example, Jimmy Carter's win in both states in 1976 launched the Georgia governor from virtual unknown to legitimate contender and eventual president.

Iowa and New Hampshire also have something else in common: They both had growing populations in the last decade and yet are among the 20 least populated states in the U.S.

New Hampshire has had two congressional districts since 1880 and Iowa is set to lose one of five districts prior to the 2013 General Assembly.

The states that typically follow Iowa and New Hampshire -- Nevada and South Carolina -- will have four and seven congressional seats, respectively.

Factoring in senators, that gives those states a combined 25 votes in the Electoral College.

Meanwhile, with two new congressional seats, Florida will have four more Electoral College votes than those states combined. As if having warmer year-round weather and eight professional sports teams -- compared to the other states' grand total of zero -- isn't enough.

Allowing Florida, and it's fourth-ranked population, to jump to the front of the line would allow candidates to skip over less populous states.

Why toil in Iowa if you can get almost five times as much electoral representation earlier in the year?

Without Iowa's early and loud voice in the caucuses, that voice would diminish from a shout to a "library voice" that could easily be ignored.

When the Electoral College was established, the goal was that no state be overlooked in the presidential election process.

Having states like Iowa and New Hampshire lead the way contributes to that goal.

Maintaining first-place status ensures that rural Americans have a voice.

Let's keep it that way.

Gabe Licht
Junior Moments