Monday, December 31, 2007

The Iowa caucuses as a spotlight on rural America

Easy as it is to be put off, even numbed, by the constant news stream about the Presidential campaign, I have enjoyed following the news in the run up to the Iowa caucuses because it provides a window into rural America -- or at least into rural Iowa. When, except in days and weeks before the caucuses, do you see datelines like Pella (population 10, 245), Indianola (population 14, 227), Storm Lake (population 9,882), and Denison (population 7,339) in the national media? Noting where the candidates are spending time gives one the impression that rural America actually matters. Of course, this fact is crazy-making for many who decry the disproportionate power of states like Iowa (along with New Hampshire and South Carolina, which also feature significant rural populations and rural associations) to make or break candidates early in the game.

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