AP/Census: NH, Iowa Among Least Representative States

An AP analysis of Census data indicates that our early primary states aren't particularly representative of America as a whole.  We knew that already, of course, but there's nothing like backing it up with numbers.

According to the AP analysis, New Hampshire is the third-least representative state, ranking 49th of 51 states (including D.C.). Iowa is 41st out of 51, and South Carolina is 24th, in the middle of the pack.  (The story didn't mention Nevada, and it provided no link to the complete list, durnitall.)

The five states most representative of the U.S. as a whole were Illinois, Oregon, Michigan, Washington and Delaware.  (So why not lead off with a Delaware primary?)  More after the cut.

The AP ranked each state on how closely it matched national levels on 21 demographic factors, including race, age, income, education, industrial mix, immigration and the share of people living in urban and rural areas. The rankings were then combined to determine the state that best mirrors the country as a whole.


In 2006, the nation was 67.6 percent white, non-Hispanic; 15 percent Hispanic; 13.4 percent black; 5 percent Asian; 1.5 percent American Indian or native Alaskan and 0.3 percent Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. The percentages add up to more than 100 in part because some people identify with more than one race and Hispanics can be of any race.

The five states least demographically representative of the U.S. as a whole were West Virginia, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Vermont and Kentucky.

Needless to say, the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire don't look that much like America doesn't reduce their desire to hang onto their favored role in American politics:

Iowa and New Hampshire have played prominent roles in choosing presidential candidates for years, with Iowa holding caucuses in January and New Hampshire holding the first primary.

Both states are more than 90 percent white, making them among the least diverse in the country.

Nevertheless, officials in both states have defended their status and pledged to maintain it.

New Hampshire voters are well-informed and steeped in democracy, comfortable asking tough questions of town officials and presidential candidates alike, said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

"Ask anyone who has been to the New Hampshire primary and they will tell you about the intensity of the questions," Buckley said. "You are going to have to answer tough questions about Katrina, about drug use in inner cities. You are going to have to answer questions about the war in Iraq and about the slaughter in Darfur."

Seriously, wouldn't Delaware be a great state for an early primary?  We'd get the same opportunity for candidates to boost their candidacies in a 'retail politics' environment as in NH or Iowa, but in a state that's much more representative of America as a whole.  We could follow that up with Oregon, then go from there.

Tags: census, Demographics, Iowa, New Hampshire, Primaries, states (all tags)



Never lived there, probably never will

I've visited Delaware (anyone living in the DC area for much of their lives, as I have, can hardly avoid it), but I'm far from enamored with it; there's at least 20 states I'd prefer to live in.

But (1) I very much like the idea of starting the primary season with smaller states, and working up to larger states; not only do you get the advantage of starting off with retail politics, but it seems like the best way of ensuring that every state can be in play.  And (2) Delaware is really very representative of the nation as a whole.  It's got a fairly large metro area (Wilmington) where much of its population lives, and it's got a bunch of genuinely rural area downstate.  Wilmington's got its share of blacks and Hispanics, and it's got people with a range of incomes.

It would be a great state for an early primary.

by RT 2007-05-17 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: AP/Census: NH, Iowa
I'm all for Oregon being important.  I really hate to cite Broder, but he said that he really enjoyed being in Oregon covering the primary way back when it mattered (during the '68 primary, Bobby Kennedy visited my high school in a small town in Oregon).  We don't have that many African Americans, but we have a lot of Hispanics, we have an Asian population, Native Americans, and lots of people from the former Soviet Union as well, and we are a purple state with a 39-35 Dem-Rep split.
Small states like Oregon should take the lead in the primaries.  Retail politics is how it's meant to be done.
by jallen 2007-05-17 09:45AM | 0 recs


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