David Leonhardt is an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times. Prior to joining the Opinion department, Mr. Leonhardt was the founding editor of The Upshot section, which emphasizes data visualization and graphics to offer an analytical approach to the day’s news. Mr. Leonhardt has also served as Washington bureau chief and wrote “Economic Scene,” a weekly economics column, for the Business section. In 2011, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns.
Reprint from The New York Times
|The combined population of Iowa and New Hampshire is 87 percent non-Hispanic white, which is roughly what the United States was in 1870. The states are also disproportionately older and completely lacking in cities with more than 250,000 residents.
|And yet Iowa and New Hampshire are treated like a national microcosm every four years and given outsize influence in choosing the president.
|This makes no sense. I know the usual justifications — that the states’ citizens take their democratic responsibilities seriously. But when you boil down that argument to its essence, it’s really an argument claiming that Iowans and New Hampshirites are intellectually and morally superior to other Americans.
|My column today makes the case for ending the special treatment that the two states receive. I explain how Iowa and New Hampshire have already skewed this year’s (overwhelmingly white) remaining field of candidates and how the states could further skew the process in the weeks ahead. By 2024, we should switch to a fairer system.
|What might that look like? I had room to mention only a couple of ideas in the column, and I want to offer some more detail, mostly from other voices, here.
Fixing the problem
|The Democratic Party reflects America’s incredible diversity. But the first two voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are among the most homogenous in the nation. …
|The problem is compounded by the fact that the two early voting states are unlikely to be consequential in the general election. So as a party, we are spending all of our time and resources outside of the battleground states we need to win. Meanwhile, President Trump is spending his time in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina — all states we lost in 2016 by razor-thin margins.