By Brigitte L. Nacos
If you follow the news about current events in the mass media, regardless whether print, radio, television, or internet, you are told over and over again that today’s Iowa caucuses are the most important events in the selection of the two major parties’ presidential candidates—with New Hampshire’s primary following in second place.
After wins in Iowa followed by victories in New Hampshire, the talking heads tell us, Donald Trump is a sure bet for the GOP’s nomination and Bernie Sanders has a realistic change to snatch the Democratic Party’s nomination away from Hillary Clinton.
If these scenarios or similar ones unfold, they are the results of media hype and the withholding of basic facts for the sake of making these early races far more important than they are in reality.
The problem is that reality is overshadowed by the media’s pseudo-reality.
Not only in the perception of the public at large but also in the eyes of those who dish out donations. Because they subscribe to the media myth, they always reward the winners of Iowa and New Hampshire and punish the losers with the latter often forced to drop out.
Absent in media coverage is real and true information about Iowa and New Hampshire that would diminish the importance of these early decisions.
To begin with, both Iowa with a population of about 3 million and New Hampshire about 1,5million have small population sizes compared to the U.S. total of 322 million. Both states are predominately white and thus not reflective of the U.S. population at large.According to their small population sizes, both states are allotted only a small number of delegates.
On the Republican side, nation-wide there are a total of more than 2, 000 delegates. Since five delegates of Iowa’s 30 delegates are without contest because they are congressional and state office holders, the fight among Republicans in tonight’s caucuses is for merely 25 delegates! In New Hampshire with a total of 25 delegates the primary decides upon 21 delegates since four are elected officials.
Similarly, on the Democratic side, nation-wide there are a total of more than 3,000 delegates at stake, of which 52 are earmarked for Iowa, But since eight of those are party officials, the caucuses decide on merely 44 delegates. Of New Hampshire’s 32 total delegates, eight are Democratic office holders so that the primary fight is over merely 24 delegates.
Not merely the small number of delegates compared to the nation-wide total is “forgotten” by even the most prestigious news organization; under-reported is, too, that Clinton has the endorsement of 464 party leaders, most of them automatic delegates, versus Sanders with two and O’Malley with one. This means that whatever the outcome in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton is far ahead in terms of delegates.
The gap is far less distinct on the GOP side where Bush leads with 51 endorsements before Rubio with 43. Thus, even if Trump were to win all 25 delegates in Iowa, both Bush and Rubio had double or close to that before the New Hampshire context.
In sum, without the media hype, first Iowa and then New Hampshire would hold utterly unimportant contests.