Opinion | Iowa was not ideal as first-in-the-nation Democratic primary

Iowa should not be the first state to hold the Democratic primaries, nor should we keep the caucus system in place.

Even Weidl, Opinions Columnist

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

Since 1972, Iowa has been the first state in the nation to hold a Democratic caucus for the presidential election. Unfortunately, Iowa has never been the most ideal state to host it, and the Democratic National Committee recognized that.

Despite an effort from Iowa legislators to keep Iowa as the first state to hold primaries, the DNC voted on Saturday to make South Carolina the first state to hold primaries.

The state that should go first should be one that is diverse on all fronts to reflect the diversity of the Democratic Party.

Iowa was ranked 46th on a list of the most diverse states. Iowa’s population is 84 percent white compared to just 4 percent Black. Additionally, Iowa ranks 36th in Hispanic and Latino population.

Iowa is also dominated by rural areas, and any state that deserves to go first should represent the populations of many different types of areas. Iowa’s largest city isn’t even in the top 100 most populous cities in America.

This is not to say that the voices and votes of farmers and rural voters do not matter, but the perspectives and preferences of many different groups of people should be considered.

One problem with Iowa going first is not just our lack of diversity, but also our outdated caucus system. To have voters physically stand in a designated part of a room to demonstrate their support is an unreliable system that makes no sense to maintain in 2023 and beyond.

Because the caucus requires everyone to vote at a specific time, it excludes people who may have other commitments such as work at the time of voting. This is unfair to those people, and any form of exclusion like that is unacceptable.

The 2020 caucuses proved that unreliability beyond any doubt. While the caucuses were normally smooth and unproblematic in past years, everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong.

It took over two weeks for the final results of the caucus to come in. In several caucuses, when delegate votes were too close to call, they settled for a literal coin toss to decide their results. Any election system that is left up to chance is completely useless and anti-democratic.

The confusion led to Secretary Pete Buttigieg declaring victory before any results were reported. While Buttigieg ended up winning the most delegates, the popular vote was won by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

These problems were not a coincidence or a freak accident — they were caused by an election system that simply has no use when we have the voting technology that we have.

After 2016, the DNC made it clear they preferred straightforward primaries over caucuses due to accessibility. Seven states switched from caucuses to primaries, and it’s past time for Iowa to do the same.

While the caucus is certainly an interesting and historic tradition, the security of elections must take all priority over the power of nostalgia. Whether Iowa is the first state or the last state to have a primary, the caucus should be replaced with a normal primary.

Iowa represents some very important groups of people, and the voice of Iowans matters as much as any other state. However, it is not in the best interest of the Democrats or the voters to keep Iowa as the first state to select their candidates, and the decision they made will benefit democracy in America.