Today’s the day. It’s the day of the Iowa Caucuses — an event that’s been highly publicized for months. The polls keep changing but the top candidates of both parties are in dead heat — a mere few points away from each other. On the Republican side, we have Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in a close match-up against Donald Trump. Similarly, the Democrats have been watching Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton struggle to gain a significant lead over the other. It’s close on both sides.
But you may be wondering: Why Iowa? What’s so significant about the Iowa Caucuses? It seems to be a question we keep asking every four years. Here’s a look at the history of the Iowa Caucuses and how it’s become such an important part of the presidential election now.
First question: Why Iowa? Great question. We can learn more by looking at the current state of Iowa Caucuses. Here are a few reasons why Iowa Caucuses are so important.
It’s the first state
It’s not as simple as that but it’s still a significant reason why Iowa Causes are so important, since Iowa is the first state to vote and formalize their support for their candidates. Leading up to the elections, we’ve seen poll after poll try to estimate the current breakdown of supporters, but the Iowa Caucuses are the first real indicators of that.
It’s the real test
Some may argue that Middle-American Iowans are a good representative of America as a whole, so Iowa Caucuses are seen as a real test for candidates to see if their platform and campaign are resonating with everyday people. If their tactic doesn’t work in Iowa, candidates have to ask themselves: Will it work anywhere else in America?
But how did Iowa became the first state to hold a caucus?
In 1972, the Democratic Party decided to change the scheduling of the state caucuses — appointing Iowa the first state to hold a caucus. In Iowa’s first year, it received an overwhelming amount of attention from the media and press — generated by a surprising momentum from a dark horse (Democratic candidate George McGovern). Witnessing the potential significance of Iowa, candidates in later elections, like Jimmy Carter, made a strong effort to campaign heavily in Iowa — and with much success. Iowa’s impact was so great that the Republican Party even changed their scheduling in 1976 to make Iowa the first state to hold a caucus.
So is Iowa really that important?
That’s debatable. In the end, there are 49 other states that can change the course of the election but what’s undeniable is the amount of attention Iowa Caucuses receive. And if candidates want to receive more press and media coverage, Iowa is obviously still the place to be.