On Monday, Feb. 3, many eyes across the country will be laser-focused on Iowa as the race for the presidency officially begins with the state’s caucuses.

Tens of thousands of Iowa Democrats are expected to turn out to determine who wins the first-in-the-nation contest after an exhaustive campaign season that began two years ago.

The caucuses for both the Democratic and Republican parties get underway at 7 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. PT.

The presidential preference portion of the night, which is when caucus-goers elect delegates for one candidate or another, will likely take an hour or two depending on the size of the precinct. As of Jan. 29, there are 12 Democrats, three Republicans, and one rumored Independent seeking the presidency.

The Iowa Caucus system itself can push a dark horse into the spotlight, as it propelled Jimmy Carter down the path to the presidency in 1976 and Obama in 2008.

No candidate who has finished in anything lower than fourth place has become the national party’s nominee (and only two fourth-placers have managed that – Democrat Bill Clinton, 1992, and Republican John McCain, 2008). Particularly in the Democratic caucuses, where a candidate must have the support of at least 15% of participants to be “viable,” candidates who make a bad showing during the Iowa Caucus process may well drop out. On the flip side, a good showing during this first test of the electorate can give a candidate some much-needed momentum.

But how closely does Iowa, home to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, reflect the United States?

With the Iowa caucuses heating up the 2020 presidential race, the personal finance website WalletHub compared Iowa’s demographic characteristics and public opinions against that of the U.S. to answer: How Closely Does Iowa Resemble the U.S.? Its data set of 31 key measures includes sociodemographic, economic, educational and religious metrics as well as public stances on certain issues.

Key findings show that:

  • The Overall Resemblance Index for Iowa is 89. The Resemblance Index for Sociodemographics is  86; Economics is 89; Education is 92; Religion is 85; and Public Opinion is 93.
  • Seventy percent of Iowa-caucus winners have won the Democratic party nomination and thirty-eight percent the Republican party nomination. The Iowa caucuses, therefore, are a much better predictor of advancement for Democrats than for Republicans.
  • Iowa least resembles the U.S. in terms of race, with a 50.00 percent difference; religious composition, with a 64.20 percent difference; wealth gap, with a 77.19 percent difference; and employment by industry, with an 80.60 percent difference.
  • Iowa most resembles the U.S. in terms of mean work hours, with a 99.74 percent similarity; gender, with a 99.22 percent similarity; school enrollment, with a 99.09 percent similarity; and importance of religion in one’s life, with a 99.00 percent similarity.

For the full report, click here.

If you would like a primer on how the caucuses work, click here.


Image Sources

  • Iowa: Pixaby