#1103 – Dick Bernard: The Iowa Primaries and Ourselves

Only one piece of data interested me related to the just completed Iowa Caucuses:
How many people participated in those caucuses?

A day after the caucus, a news program briefly flashed the numbers:
Republican: about 186,000
Democrat: about 171,000
A quick search of the Iowa Secretary of State data base shows Iowa with 2,090,298 registered voters as of January 4, 2016.
Therefore, roughly 12% of Iowa’s eligible voters, roughly half Republican, and half Democrat, showed up for those caucuses on Monday night…before the bad weather entered the scene.
88% couldn’t be bothered to attend.
The most successful candidates in Iowa, Republican and Democrat, garnered a very small fraction of the total potential vote.
Three of the twelve Republican candidates each received roughly 25% of the Republican vote. The winner received 27%.
Two of the three Democrat candidates evenly split over 99% of the Democrat vote. The winner won two more delegates than the loser.
Here is more for the armchair analysts.
(Iowa is a small state, population wise: 2015 est. 3,123,899. Minnesota is average among the 50 states, with roughly two percent of the U.S. population: 5,489,594.)
Every state has different procedures for their own primaries, or caucuses.
In Iowa, the Republicans had a different procedure than the Democrats.
The process makes no difference. All that matters: only those who showed up in Iowa – only one of eight potential voters – are the only ones who were counted in the first, and crucial, action of the rest of the journey to the elections in November.
The rest didn’t even bother to come to the game, though most could have participated.
I’m a regular at caucuses. The above data is pretty typical, I’d say. New Hampshire, South Carolina, etc., will not be that much different. Or Minnesota. Regardless of political party.
In Minnesota, our caucuses are Tuesday, March 1. At those community meetings the citizens who attend will elect the delegates who will participate in the political process ultimately leading to the nomination of their candidate for President of the United States, and many other offices. They’ll debate resolutions on this or that issue that will go forward to become a part of a party platform. Every State, each party, has its own process. I’m Minnesotan. Here’s Minnesota’s.
Folks have to show up to have any say at all.
Those who can, but don’t, show up disenfranchise themselves.
Get familiar with your states process, and show up, well informed, for every election.

from Carol in Minnesota:
And the really sad thing is they had record turnout. However (speaking of the Republican slate), when there’s nobody worth voting for…
“Only one piece of data interested me” – The one piece of data that interested me a lot was that Trump LOST. Hooray for those Iowans for finally pricking a hole in his hot air balloon!
from SAK, in England: It’s a strange system but I suppose it aims at reaching the grassroots? The data you provide, especially voter participation is truly shocking. With so much at stake & voters obviously wanting a change on both sides of the divide how come so few bother to show up!?
Here’s how the BBC sees it.
The world is become more unequal across the board but some are more unequal than others – according to the Financial Times/OECD which can’t be accused of leftism! [I am unable to share this link, which essentially shows vastly disproportionate and increasing wealth gaps in a few countries, particularly the U.S.]
You are not recommending a candidate yet!?
from Dick, in response to last sentence: Stay tuned, at this space, in a couple of weeks or so, I’ll announce to the world my preference, with rationale.
As to the BBC post, Why are the Americans so angry?”, I think the data, from living a now 75 year life-time in the U.S., is that things like the Iowa caucus portray a false “reality” about people in the U.S. My own mini-analysis, above, is that the Iowa caucuses “catch the wave” of the fringes, both left and right. Bad news is, over here, and perhaps also everywhere else as well, more “interesting” than good news, where people are being charitable towards others, going to work, figuring out how to compromise with people they disagree with, etc. In this sense, who Americans are, and what America is, are not conveyed by the telescreen, which dominates the visible conversation a la George Orwell’s 1984, the 1949 vision of utopia gone mad.
(Recently, we visited “Blue Hawaii”, our paradise state, and I was intrigued by the evening news there, focusing on a dispute over trash pickup in a neighborhood, the usual catastrophic accident on some freeway, and the like. Here we were, next door to Waikiki Beach in a fancy hotel. If we had been marooned in that hotel room, and had only the television as a source of information, we would have been certain that Hawaii was a disaster!)
from Ruth: Good blog!
Seems to me that it’s good that the DFL [Minnesota Democrat Farmer Labor Party] is so generous with delegates. It’s much harder for special interests to take over an open system than a restricted one. However, low participation also invites takeovers by unrepresentative groups. Antiabortion forces tried to take the DFL in the 70’s, but were never able to take more than their percentage in the general population (about one third). There were about 100,000 attending DFL caucuses in those days.
GOP caucuses were very poorly attended, with the few delegate slots going to long-time activists, and the antiabortion folks were able to take over almost completely, and we lost many moderate Republicans from public service.
I’m hoping that Bernie will bring lots of new people to the caucuses and that we can get some of them engaged in the process.
The Occupy movement in Spain set up local meetings to try to arrive at a national agenda. Our caucus system offers that channel. I wish the resolution structure were more open even if it occasionally embarrasses the powers-that-be.

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