Why does Iowa always vote first anyway?

Today Democratic Party supporters in the state of Iowa will hold caucuses to decide who they want as their candidate in November’s American presidential election. Iowa always goes first in the selection process which gives this small, rural, white state exceptional importance – but why?

Well, it hasn’t in fact always been the case. Democrats started the practice in 1972 and the Republicans followed in 1976. When Jimmy Carter surprisingly won Iowa in 1972 and went on to become both the candidate and the president, the importance of the state being first became firmly established.

“The really important thing to remember about Iowa is not that it’s first because it’s important. Iowa is important because it’s first,” said Kathy O’Bradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register

But, still, why does Iowa go first?

It happened after the 1968 Democratic National Convention which was marred by violence over the Vietnam War and racial tension. The Democratic Party nationally and in Iowa decided they wanted to change their process to make it more inclusive.

Part of that meant spreading the presidential nominating schedule out in each state. Since Iowa has one of the more complex processes — precinct caucuses, county conventions, district conventions, followed by a state convention — it had to start really early.

You can learn more here.


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