Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang told a gathering in Des Moines, Iowa that he will “shock” the nation with his performance in tonight’s caucuses (Feb 3).
Yang is depending that he will be able to attract Republicans who are disappointed in Donald Trump even though they gave him their vote in 2016. In Iowa’s caucus system, voters can switch parties the night of the caucus.
Tonight, Iowa voters kick off the primary election season by attending an evening caucus.
They’ll try to convince their fellow voters to side with their favored candidates, count heads and decide which candidate will be awarded their delegates.
Unfortunately, people who work in the evening won’t be able to take part in this particular democratic exercise. The state doesn’t mandate employers to allow their workers to leave work in order to take part in the caucus. Childcare issues, extreme weather or lack of disabled access are all barriers to participating in the Democratic process. As a result, in 2016 only about 18.5% of the state’s eligible voters were able to take part.
Loud and effective speakers who can dominate the conversations have an undue influence on the voters to join their particular “cluster” to indicate their preference. A candidate must have at least 15% of the caucus goers in order to win a delegate. Those caucus goers whose candidates can’t muster the 15%, must go to their second or third choice among the candidates who were able to reach that 15%.
Iowa is also one of the least ethnically diverse states in the country. And because it holds caucus meetings, not a primary election, its electorate is even less diverse because many poorer voters often do not have the free time to participate. In 2016, Iowa’s Democratic caucus electorate was 91% non-Hispanic white. The Republicans was 97% non-Hispanic white..
It’s doesn’t necessarily mean that Iowa voters won’t vote for a candidate of color; they backed Obama in 2008 and 2012.
PEW reports that White adults account for a much larger share of Iowa’s population than is the case for the U.S. as a whole. Among Iowa’s 18-and-older population, 91.6% are White, versus 73.8% of all 18-and-older Americans, according to 2018 Census data. Black Americans make up 12.4% of the 18-and-older population but just 3.2% in Iowa; Hispanics, who can be of any race, are 16.2% of the U.S. 18-and-older population but only 4.8% in Iowa.
Despite increasing by more than 50% between 2009 and 2017, Asians make up only about 2% of the electorate.
Democrats have instituted some changes to increase participation, especially among minority voters.
“For the first time in a caucus cycle, we have a full-time AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] and Latinx outreach director, and accessibility outreach director to help make sure all Iowans have the resources they need to caucus, including translation services at the caucuses,” said Iowa Democratic Party communications director Mandy McClure in a statement that pointed out a number of other changes. “Expanding participation has been at the heart of all of these changes, and we will continue to work to look for ways to increase accessibility on caucus night.”
Despite Yang’s confidence, in the latest poll from Monmouth University, businessman Andrew Yang lagged far behind the frontrunners of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The poll says Yang had support from 3% of likely caucus goers in Iowa and 4% of those Iowans indicated that he’d be their second choice.
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