Monday, December 31, 2007

Why Iowa?

The Des Moines Register does a fantastic job of covering the caucuses here. They have comprehensive coverage every day on all of the candidates. It is not an effort that you see many daily newspapers in cities this size take on.

Among the many articles in the paper on Sunday were some statistics that make you wonder why a state with such little diversity in its population has the honor of having so much influence on the up coming political year.

There are three million people in Iowa. There are about 1.9 million voters. Republicans account for 574,000, Democrats for 600,000 and 737,000 are independent. About 20 to 25% will participate in the caucuses. That means about 150,000 Democrats.

The ethnicity breakdown is 94.9% White, 3.7% Hispanic, 2.3% Black and 1.4% Asian.

Not exactly a diverse group. But they work hard and a 72% home ownership rate is impressive. Iowa has 16.6 million hogs, that's a lot of bacon, and produces 20% of the nation's corn and 16% of the soybeans. 88% of the state's land mass is covered by farms. Wow.

The state will be in the spotlight on Thursday night and its caucus results will only be really important until New Hampshire votes five days later.

I don't know how much money will be spent for each vote that is cast at the caucuses. Some one needs to figure that out when the dust settles. It will be sobering I am sure. If it doesn't make the case for public financing of campaigns and a leveling of the playing field, then nothing will.

I am pretty much convinced that the celebrity status of the candidates enables them to bring in enormous amounts of money. Senator Obama is a celebrity because of his beautiful speech at the Democratic Convention a few years back. Hillary is a celebrity for a lot of reasons, and Edwards is a celebrity because of his being on the ticket four years ago. That leaves substantial candidates like Bill Richardson and Senator Biden in the wings as far as raising cash goes. If Bill gets into the top three he will become a celebrity for it and funds will pour in. I hope he gets there and his non stop work might make it happen.

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