The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary are the first two contests in the race to earn the Democratic or Republican nomination for president. These two states dominate media coverage of the election and candidates spend an enormous amount of time campaigning within these states—but, Iowa and New Hampshire should not be getting the attention that they are.
These two states are not representative of the rest of the United States. According to the Census Bureau, in Iowa, 93 percent of the population is white. Nearly 40 percent of the population lives in rural communities, compared to a national percentage of only 18. New Hampshire has a population that is 94 percent white, with a higher percentage of college graduates than the national average. In both states the percentage of households that do not speak English at home is less than half of what the national percentage is.
Another state should take the place Iowa and New Hampshire have in our election process. Michigan would be perfect.
Michigan’s population is significantly more representative of the U.S. population, with a population that is 80 percent white and 14 percent black. The only demographic that is not near the national percentage is the Hispanic community. The poverty rate in Michigan is closer to the national poverty rate and the unemployment rate is nearly identical to the national rate. Michigan’s population is 74 percent urban, which is significantly closer to the 80 percent urban population for the U.S. than either Iowa or New Hampshire.
Michigan is a complex and diverse state, with a population that better reflects the country as a whole. Holding the first primary here, rather than in Iowa or New Hampshire, would give us a better indication of how each candidate will fare at the national level.