We’re about a month and a half away until the Iowa caucuses and the field of nominees is still crowded. The scene across the state will be familiar. People will gather in homes, churches, meeting halls, and schools to come together and pick who they think will be the best presidential nominee for their party. Depending on the weather, the crowds could be large or small. But the people will still be the same people we’ve seen every four years, so can we really expect that state to represent the nation?
After all, the demographics of Iowa are far from representative of the nation. 91% white, 77% Christian, 36% rural, and 90% native born. It doesn’t sound like America, especially the America of today where 60% is white, 49% Christian, 19% rural, and 14% foreign born. It matches on sex, median age, and close on education and income. The unemployment rate is 2.6% compared with the US average of 3.6% at the time of this blog.
But the nation and possibly the world will be focused on Iowa the night of February 3rd, waiting to see who that state’s Democrats feel is the right choice to match up against Donald Trump. The latest poll for Iowa as of this post shows Mayor Pete Buttigieg leading the pack with 24% followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 21%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren follows with 18% and former VP Joe Biden is at 15%.
So, three white men and a white woman. Two left-wing liberals and two middle of the road moderates. Going back to September, those four have been at the top of the crowded field, swapping places several times depending on the poll or the issues of the day. Lately, Buttigieg has been the leader and should hold a lead going into January. Sanders will follow as Warren appears to be trying to take down Buttigieg rather than Sanders.
Of course, all this is really academic when it comes to the general election in November as Iowa’s six electoral votes really don’t have much impact on the overall election. The state seems to split down the middle, voting for Trump in 2016, but Obama in 2008 and 2012. So, it’s really anyone’s guess as to who will win it in 2020.
Looking at Trump’s match-up against leading Democrats, he leads all with the narrowest margin against Buttigieg at 46% to 45%. That makes sense considering Buttigieg’s popularity among Democrats. It stands to reason that the Independents who may be crossing back to Trump when matched up against a Sanders or a Biden would stick with Buttigieg when he is lined up against Trump.
But, when looking at the rest of the field they are more a collection of also-rans who are just bringing up good ideas, but not really moving the polling needle towards them. Then there’s Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, two very wealthy candidates who seem to hit the sweet spot Buttigieg is catching now. However, they aren’t really registering in the polls, possibly due to their late arrival in the race.
Bloomberg has made a decision to forego campaigning in Iowa, focusing more on Super Tuesday. He filed to run in Arkansas and has been running quite a few ads in this state which has the same number of EC votes as Iowa. His absence from Iowa kind of negates the results as it doesn’t really provide a true match-up of the moderates.
That leaves us with the rest of the pack. Because they don’t seem to garner the support of Iowans and because they don’t have the financial resources to keep going, several will be weeded out. What Iowa does is limit the candidates going into Super Tuesday when 694 delegates will be awarded, Not nearly enough to win the nomination, but definitely enough to determine who will be the final set of candidates.
So, while Iowa won’t really decide the nominee the state’s caucus will help decide who won’t be the nominee.