Accuracy in Media

Repeating a popular progressive political refrain, NowThis News criticized Iowa and New Hampshire’s primary statuses and said that those states’ electorate was too white to be fair and representative of the Democratic Party. The website blasted the two states because the two primaries allegedly rely too heavily on “the whims of about 465,000 voters from states that are 92 percent white.”

NowThis News’s analysis headlined the alleged racism of the first two primaries in the country, “Analysis: The Problem With Iowa and NH Going First in the Democratic Race.”

The analysis compared the demographics of two states to the party’s general primary electorate, which was 92 percent white compared to 60 percent white.

The contention that the two primary states were too white was misleading. Historically, white voters tend to vote more consistently and more often than their minority peers. Also, the following two primaries in Nevada and South Carolina resolve the diversity issue, with Nevada having a robust Latino population and South Carolina’s black American population. Together, the first four primaries represent the diversity of the United States as a whole.

A popular progressive complaint about the Electoral College, and now the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, are that too few voters live in smaller-sized and more rural states. NowThis News emphasized the both Iowa and New Hampshire have “fewer voters than the population of Kansas City, Missouri,” in addition to having fewer voters than Tucson, Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas. The website tore into the media’s electability argument and claimed that Iowa and New Hampshire are “two, small, non-diverse states” which have an outsized impact on the presidential election. It questioned why Iowa was the first primary in the country because “Democrats didn’t even win in the 2016 general election…Should voters there really be picking the frontrunners in the Democratic race?”

There are multiple inconsistencies within NowThis News’s analysis on Iowa and New Hampshire. First, in promoting the anti-rural and smaller-state narrative, the analysis implied that smaller states should not have an impact on elections. Instead, it implied that the larger states should have a bigger role in elections, which was not fair to voters in smaller states. Historically, the Senate was created to balance the power between larger-population states and smaller-population states. The Electoral College also represents this balance in American democracy, as do the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

Second, Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are less expensive to run than larger states, such as California. Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C., defended Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in presidential elections in 2016 and said, “Early primary states allow candidates, voters and the media an inexpensive, safe place to hold a deep dialogue, beyond soundbites and mass rallies, on issues impacting the entire country.” Additionally, Brookings argued that these early primaries force politicians to get out of their comfort zone, get outside of their typical voting base and improves their political leadership by hearing “directly from voters outside of their home states and come up with answers on the fly, beyond carefully crafted talking points.”

Third, it should not matter if Iowa voted for Trump by ten percentage points in 2016. Iowa voted for Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, in both 2008 and 2012. States like Iowa are swing states and are crucial indicators of whether independent voters buy into a presidential candidate in the primaries and in the general election. It was inconsistent for NowThis News to dismiss Iowa solely based on 2016 election results, while ignoring how Iowa voted for Obama twice.

NowThis News’s political analysis was misleading and dishonest about Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in determining a presidential nominee. The analysis repeated multiple inconsistencies in addition to lacking historical understanding and knowledge about the primary system. It should recategorize this analysis as an opinion editorial, which would better reflect its content.

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