ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

American Opinion: End the kingmaking in Iowa and New Hampshire

From the editorial: Concerns about which states go first have persisted for years. In the mid-1990s, there was a push by the National Association of Secretaries of State for a system of regional primaries whose sequence would rotate with each election, so no one region had a permanent advantage.

Shana Gallagher pats Tom Bush on the shoulder after Gallagher persuaded Bush to walk over to the Bernie Sanders group during a realignment round of a satellite caucus at the Drake University field house Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Shana Gallagher pats Tom Bush on the shoulder after Gallagher persuaded Bush to walk over to the Bernie Sanders group during a realignment round of a satellite caucus at the Drake University field house Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.
(John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
We are part of The Trust Project.

Thank you for your service, Iowa and New Hampshire. But it's time to end the prominent, influential perch you two small rural states have long enjoyed in winnowing the list of presidential contenders.

American Opinion
American Opinion
Tribune graphic / Forum News Service
More American Opinion:
The Justice Department should ask Cannon to recuse herself, and if she refuses, it should appeal for reassignment of the case.
From the editorial: The right to marry whom you love should not be subject to the whims of an out-of-step conservative court or be left to a patchwork of state regulations. Congress must make the Respect for Marriage Act the law of the land.
From American Opinion editorial: Enter the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, a nationwide effort that’s being made to investigate and take legal action against companies who bring foreign robocalls into the United States. The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states.
From the American Opinioin editorial: Late in 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally created a process to replace derogatory names of geographic features across the nation. She declared the word “squaw” to be derogatory and ordered a federal panel — called the Board on Geographic Names — to move forward with procedures to remove that word from federal usage.

Another state or states should get a chance to sort through candidates and make an early choice in the nation's first caucus or primary. Officials for both political parties should acknowledge a switch is overdue and then swiftly offer alternatives — preferably before the end of the year.

That would give the new state or group of states enough time to plan for this earlier responsibility. In addition, announcing soon would give presidential candidates enough time to adjust their schedules accordingly.

An influential Democratic Party committee is set to consider the issue in December. Iowa Democrats' dismal handling of the 2020 caucuses, where technological glitches delayed results, provided additional motivation to tap another location. Republican Party officials did not respond to an editorial writer's request for comment.

Without a change, the 2024 presidential election will soon put the two states at the center of the American political universe once again. The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary have enjoyed first-in-nation honors for decades. In 2020, the Hawkeye State's caucuses were held on Feb. 3. In 2012, the caucuses came barely after New Year's — on Jan. 3.

ADVERTISEMENT

With those very early dates comes a massive media spotlight, extra political clout for the states' voters and an unparalleled opportunity to see candidates close up. There's also a small but still significant economic boost from hosting the traveling reality show of candidates and journalists.

Winter winds may now sweep through the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, but it's mere months before summer political coverage features shopworn photos of presidential hopefuls grilling pork chops or glad-handing livestock exhibitors at the annual agricultural showcase. The same holds true for White House wannabes barnstorming New Hampshire's picturesque small towns and byways.

Enough already. This is a tradition that has grown stale. Nor does it serve the nation well. As a Brookings Institution white paper notes, the demographics in Iowa and New Hampshire are at odds with the nation's more diverse and urbanized population.

"With a white population share of 85% and 90%, respectively (compared to 60.4% for the nation as a whole), they are the sixth and fourth 'whitest' states. They also have somewhat older age structures, decidedly less urbanized populations, and a much higher representation of white adults without college educations ('noncollege whites') than the rest of the nation,'' the report states.

And while Iowa and New Hampshire voters have commendably taken their candidate-vetting responsibilities seriously through the years, these voters shouldn't have a monopoly on the influential early choice. Other states' voters, along with the issues important to them, deserve to share the spotlight that Iowa and New Hampshire have enjoyed. That front-row seat might also galvanize voters in the new state or states to get involved — a win for voter participation.

Concerns about which states go first have persisted for years. In the mid-1990s, there was a push by the National Association of Secretaries of State for a system of regional primaries whose sequence would rotate with each election, so no one region had a permanent advantage.

It's unfortunate that this proposal never gained traction. It should be resurrected and debated energetically by both political parties.

There would be some trade-offs, as there are with most changes. For example, the small geographic footprints of Iowa and New Hampshire, along with their relatively inexpensive media markets, can allow a dark-horse candidate lacking resources to compete early on.

ADVERTISEMENT

More Opinion:
The letter writer believe citizens should demand that our state and federal representatives and senators work on permitting the building of more coal, gas and nuclear power plants resulting in lower energy costs.
The letter writer urges caution about money solicitation requests.
From the commentary: More than anything else, Democrats’ current harmony reflects the fact that few party members now see themselves as facing such a dilemma (back home).
The letter writer believes educators should change history lessons.
From the editorial: The rules are the rules. It shouldn’t be too much to expect the country’s highest leaders to start following them.
Editorial cartoonist Kevin Siers draws on the continuing year of the gun in 2023.
The letter writer calls on the Biden administration to address Mexico's bio-tech corn ban.
From the commentary: Every day is a new embarrassment, not just for (George Santos) but for the Republicans in Congress.
From the commentary: It is time to recognize obesity in childhood and adolescence for the complex chronic disease that it is.
"Church worship now competes with everything from professional sports to kids activities to household chores. ... we can either have a frank conversation about what church can be, or we can continue to watch the pews empty in cherished houses of worship across the country."

But that alone isn't a strong enough argument to stay the course. There are other states that could offer up similar conditions.

Another consideration: If a decision is made soon to allow another state to go first or early, is there enough time for its election officials to organize and set up for the earlier contest? In a recent interview with an editorial writer, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said states generally are nimble enough to quickly adjust their calendars. He added that Minnesota could handle such a switch.

Iowa and New Hampshire have had a good run. It's time for a change.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the Star Tribune Editorial Board. Send feedback to: opinion@wctrib.com.

©2022 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What To Read Next
From the editorial: The days of magnanimity and bipartisan compromise are over. Some people want war and seem determined to provoke it.
From the editorial: First, public debt cannot safely be allowed to keep rising at the projected rate. Second, purporting to solve this problem by threatening to default on the country’s obligations is nuts.
Why is it that women’s hygiene products are not offered for free in school bathrooms?
From the editorial: Although multiple New York GOP House members have urged Santos to resign, the party’s far-right House membership is pulling him into their fold. Should Americans be surprised?