Share the primaries

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

The Iowa caucus was a disaster, and while New Hampshire was a simpler voting process, it still has an outsized effect on the national discussion due to its early placement in the voting calendar. The primary season needs an overhaul.

Iowa is the No. 16 state for best representative of the national voting body, according to a NPR study.

It’s close to the top in similarity in education level, age, income and religious fervor, but Iowa is 85% white, while America is just 60%. New Hampshire is much farther down the list, No. 49 to be exact. The state is bottom-eight in four of the categories and No. 33 in education.

Now every state has its issues, and every state will eventually have its primary or caucus. But, and this is a big but, according to multiple studies, a vote in one of the first two states counts as many as 20 votes later in the season. Also, in the last 40 years, only one candidate has won a candidacy without winning Iowa or New Hampshire: Bill Clinton in 1992. It is a problem that states that are so out of sync with the rest of the country have so much influence on presidential candidates.

So they shouldn’t be first. States that are more representative of the national body should be first. And there shouldn’t be one state with too much influence. If instead of four states in four weeks before Super Tuesday in March, there was a mini Tuesday with four states all at once, maybe the national discussion would be more aligned with outcomes in the early primaries.

The U.S. Census splits the nation into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South and West. What the NPR study doesn’t take into account is regional differences, which could be accounted for if there were states picked from each region.

The largest states in the nation also shouldn’t go first. If states with hundreds of delegates went before the smaller samples, those states may look at their votes as only confirming previous results rather than helping them pick who won.

From the top 10 states in NPR’s study, and states with lower delegate counts, Arizona (No. 3 and 67 delegates), Kansas (No. 2 and 39), North Carolina (No. 5 and 110) and Rhode Island (No. 10 and 26) would all be worthy candidates to help the nation get a grasp on who can be a viable presidential nominee.

Sure, there are good people in Iowa who care about their political responsibility. And the same goes for those in New Hampshire. But no state, or two states, deserves as much influence as they have, and especially not two whose demographics don’t show the whole picture.