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Stephen Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa, offers some snooty observations about Iowa and the upcoming Iowa Caucus. Here, for instance, is a representative passage:
I live in Iowa City, a university town 60 miles west of the Mississippi, along Highway 80 (known as The Interstate to younger Iowans, just The Highway to older Iowans). Eighty is America’s Main Street, bisecting Iowa, connecting the hallowed-out middle of Corpus Americana to the faraway coasts. Granted, I’m a transplant here, and when I lit out almost two decades ago for this territory, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The first day I arrived from San Francisco, wandering about Iowa City during spring break, billed as a bustling Big Ten University town, I kept wondering, “Where is everyone?” I thought a neutron bomb had gone off; there were buildings but few, if any, people.
Today, I still not quite sure what I’d gotten myself into. I’ve lived in many places, lots of them foreign countries, but none has been more foreign to me than Iowa. …
Friday fish fries at the American Legion hall; grocery and clothing shopping at Wal-Mart; Christmas crèches with live donkeys, sheep and a neighborhood infant playing Baby Jesus; shotgun-toting* hunters stalking turkeys in the fall (better not go for a walk in the countryside in October or November). Not many cars in these parts of America. They’re vehicles, pronounced ve-HICK-uls — 4X4’s, pick-ups, snowmobiles). Rural houses are modest, some might say drab. Everyone strives to be middle-class; and if you have some money, by God you’d never want to make anyone feel bad by showing it off. If you go to Florida for a cruise, you keep it to yourself. The biggest secret often is — if you still own farmland — exactly how many acres. Ostentatious is driving around town in a new Ford F-150 pickup.
The reason everyone seems related in small-town Iowa is because, if you go back far enough, many are, either by marriage or birth. In Iowa, names like Yoder, Snitker, Schroeder, and Slabach are as common as Garcia, Lee, Romero, Johnson, and Chen are in big cities.
David Burge (of Iowahawk) has responded with a funny spoof.
Powerlineblog’s John Hinderaker provides some brilliant analysis.
My biggest problem with the article is the following passage:
In a perfect world, no way would Iowa ever be considered representative of America, or even a small part of it. Iowa’s not representative of much. There are few minorities, no sizable cities, and the state’s about to lose one of its five seats in the U.S. House because its population is shifting; any growth is negligible.
Yes, I suppose that Iowa is more agrarian and rural than average America. And maybe the state has fewer racial minorities. But politically Iowa is extremely representative of America. In 2008 it voted 54-44 for Obama over McCain, while America voted 53-46. In 2004 it voted 50-49 for Bush over Kerry, while America voted 51-48.
In my book, Left Turn, I estimate the average “Political Quotient,” or PQ, of voters in each state. Judged by PQs, Iowa is the most centrist state in the U.S. Specifically, while the PQ of the average American is 50.4, the PQ of the average Iowan is just a tiny bit more liberal, 50.7.
Maybe Iowa is a great place to hold the first presidential-nomination contest.
(New Hampshire, by the way, has an average PQ of 51.7, making it the third most centrist state in the U.S. In case you’re curious, here you can compute your own PQ. And here [scroll down to the bottom] you can see the average estimated PQs of all 50 states.)