Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Iowa Caucuses: A Lot of Media, Not Much Democracy

Created: 02 February, 2016
Updated: 21 November, 2022
2 min read

THE IOWA CAUCUSES CONSUMED NATIONAL MEDIA, especially the Republican race. They spent oodles of money, time and personnel to cover this first-in-the-nation “primary.”

The cable networks, Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, we're all over it – hour by hour, day by day, week by week. And, of course, last night, caucus night, they OD'd on coverage.

But here’s the reality they neither did not nor will report:

Of 1,060,896 Iowa Republicans registered in the state’s four congressional districts, only 186,795 showed up at their party’s caucuses to vote for their party’s 11 candidates.

So, for all the time, money, and personnel media devoted to Iowa, only 17.6 percent of Republicans bothered to attend their party caucuses.

Or, to put it another way:

For all the time, money, and personnel the 11 Republican candidates devoted to Iowa, only 17.6 percent of their party’s registered voters bothered to attend their party’s caucuses.

One of the scenes from last night that will stay with me – from six hours of watching MSNBC – was Rachel Maddow, gushing to Brian Williams (remember him?) that 496 Iowa State students turned out to vote at their caucus, when only a couple hundred were expected. Ms. Maddow, gushing, as only she can gush, told Mr. Williams that this is what democracy is all about.


Ms. Maddow should know Iowa State has 36,001 students.

Or, 35,505 couldn’t be bothered with so trivial a matter as voting.

Rather than “gushing,” a more appropriate response from Ms. Maddow would have been tears over the state of our democracy.

On the other side, the Democratic Party has 1,080,883 registered voters. I can’t report how many voted because the only published figures I saw were the ones you saw, Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders in a 49-49 percent virtual tie.

One other aspect of media’s OD on Iowa, did you either read or hear that the biggest political grouping in the Hawkeye State is neither Democrats nor Republicans, but Independents, who number 1,244,095 – not one of whom was allowed to vote in either the Democratic or Republican caucuses.

And this is the “democracy” Rachel Maddow gushes about.

So I will tell you what media won’t, you cannot sustain a democratic society when so few people participate in voting.

America is in denial!

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