Democrats Are Done With Iowa

From a Wall Street Journal column by Dave Seminara headlined “Democrats Are Done With Iowa”:

Iowa hasn’t been good to Joe Biden. His first presidential campaign was doomed by revelations that he plagiarized Britain’s Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock in a 1987 speech to the State Fair in Des Moines. He finished fifth and fourth, respectively, in the 2008 and 2020 Iowa caucuses and lost the state by more than 8 points to Donald Trump. So maybe it’s no wonder he proposes to diminish the Hawkeye State—along with New Hampshire, where he finished fifth in 2020—by moving South Carolina, which he won overwhelmingly, to the top of the 2024 Democratic primary calendar.

In a letter to the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee, Mr. Biden argues that the party “must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process,” and said that the early voting states should be more diverse than Iowa, which is 84% non-Hispanic white. South Carolina is 27% black.

Yet Iowans are exactly the sort of heartland voters the Democratic Party needs to win back if it wants to build a durable majority. The proposed move to South Carolina is symbolic of the party’s tendency to write off working-class white voters far from the coasts.

After the 2018 election, Democrats held three of Iowa’s four House seats. They lost two of them in 2020 and the other one this year. Next year the state’s congressional delegation will be entirely Republican. Rob Sand, the state auditor, was the only statewide Democrat to win in the midterms. Attorney General Tom Miller, who served for 40 years, lost.

Iowa voted for Michael Dukakis and Al Gore, as well as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama twice each. Mr. Obama’s victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses put his campaign on the map. But 31 of Iowa’s 99 counties voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 and switched to Mr. Trump in 2016. Mr. Biden didn’t win back any of them in 2020. The plan to push Iowa off the front page in the next election cycle signifies the party has simply given up on these voters.

In a woke era, no politician will admit to courting white voters. But according to the largest midterm exit poll, non-Hispanic whites accounted for 73% of the nationwide electorate and gave Republicans an 18-point advantage. That margin is similar to previous elections, but Republicans improved their showing among minorities. The Democratic calculus of disregarding white and rural voters may not continue to add up if the trend continues.

Dave Seminara is a former diplomat and author of “Footsteps of Federer: A Fan’s Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts.”

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