Monday, February 10, 2020

FiveThirtyEight asks 'How important is winning Iowa or New Hampshire?'

The fiasco that was the the Iowa Caucuses, which prompted Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor NoahSamantha Bee, and SNL to all poke fun at the chaos, inspired me to post FiveThirtyEight's Primary Project explains how the U.S. primary system evolved and asks if there is a better way as a way of coping with my frustration.  Maybe there is a better way, but right now the U.S. is stuck with the system we have.  Given that, it's worth asking the same question FiveThirtyEight did this morning, How Important Is Winning Iowa Or New Hampshire?

During primary season, we hear a lot about Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states in the nation to vote. Neither state boasts a large number of delegates, so why does it seem like they are so crucial to winning the nomination? We crunched the numbers to see just how important it is to win the early states.
The answer is very, much more so than winning more diverse and representative states like Nevada and South Carolina.  Only Super Tuesday rivals Iowa and New Hampshire in importance.  No wonder the two states like going first.

Here's to hoping New Hampshire does a better job at counting the votes and picking the winner, survivors, and losers than Iowa did.  Stay tuned to see if it does.


  1. Druke is right. Those states matter because people believe they matter. I think there's also the fact that each cycle, after several months of polls and debates and claims for various candidates, Iowa and New Hampshire finally give us some actual votes to count. That inevitably gives outsize weight to the first states.

    But there's no reason Iowa and New Hampshire should always be first. That's an outdated shibboleth for which, unlike with the Electoral College and the Senate, we don't have the excuse of it being entrenched in the Constitution. The parties just need to be decisive and institute a new system for determining which states go when, even if some people bitch about it.

    So far they haven't. I do hope the Iowa app-ocalypse will at least be the death knell of the beyond-moronic "caucus" system, even if not of Iowa's traditional first place. That would at least be something.

    1. The caucus system works if a party wants to re-nominate a sitting president without worrying about the opposition. Michigan's Democrats did that in 2012 and I participated in one of the caucuses, where Obama earned every vote at my location. Who says Democrats aren't an organized political party when they have to be?

      Otherwise, they are not very democratic and not terribly transparent. State-run primaries do a much better job of both, as well as being generally better run.

      As for Iowa, they will have to give up first place if they go for a primary. New Hampshire will put up a fight, as the the state going first is in state law.