The Iowa Caucuses and the problem of the immigrant voter

Sandhya Dirks for NPR.
Sandhya Dirks for NPR.

The Iowa Caucuses are over. The voting on the Democratic side was as close as possible. On the Republican side, three candidates had their cards punched to continue on. Iowa drew the massive media attention that it only gets one day every four years when it determines who the candidates with a serious chance to win the presidency are.

The problem with Iowa is that it is a state with a tiny electorate of people of color. In response to the demographics, candidates either deliver bigoted appeals to prejudice theirs or they ignore the needs of Latino and immigrant voters all together.

A look at the ethnicities of the Iowa voters makes this clear. The Entrance Poll for the Iowa Republican Caucus gave the following breakdown of participants:

White 97%
Hispanic 2%
Black 0%

Among these Republicans, only 13% said that immigration was the most important issue for them.  Since most of those who cited immigration as the top issue were Cruz or Trump supporters, it is safe to assume that their concern for immigration as an issue was for tightening enforcement.

The demographics at the Democratic Caucus were only slightly more diverse. 91% were white, 3% were black, and 4% were Hispanic.

The number of non-white caucus-goers was so tiny that neither the Republican nor the Democratic polls could give estimates on who the black and brown participants were going to vote for.

The Iowa Caucus is the second most important event of the primary season. Except for the election next week in New Hampshire, it is the most vital vote in a presidential candidate’s primary career.  Yet the voters who make the choice of whom the major candidates will be do not reflect the emerging American electorate and don’t place immigrant rights at the top of their concerns.