Admittedly, I’m a political junkie (like, presumably, most everyone on the Elections sub-board), but I have a hard time understanding how even a politically disengaged person could live in Iowa and not have ever even *heard *of the caucuses. Srsly?
A surprising number of people are uninformed or ill-informed about all sorts of things, either because they simply never learned it, or it wasn’t important to them, so it didn’t stick in their heads.
Understanding a relatively obscure fact about the US political process requires a tremendous amount of engagement in the process, regardless of what state you live in. Honestly, I’d be surprised if the number of Iowans who didn’t know what the caucuses were was less than 10%. For reference, about 14% of US adults are illiterate. I realize that knowing a fact (what is a caucus) is different than having a skill (knowing how to read), but it’s a good threshold to keep in mind. How difficult must it be to be informed about the world if you can’t read?
Did you know that the illiteracy rate was as high as it was?
Eh, everyone has gaps in what is thought to be basic knowledge. Hell, I am not really clear about half the stuff that happens on a farm.
Not too surprising. A caucus would only mean something to you if politics means something to you. There are actually a lot of people who aren’t just uninformed, but actively avoid anything having to do with politics.
Ha! Stupid foreigners, don’t even know what a caucus is! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Not that I believe you’re wrong, but cite?
Oh, I know that. And I wouldn’t blink if they talked to (to cite my former and current states of residence) Minnesotans who were unaware of the caucus, or Missourians who don’t know anything about the primary. But in Iowa, for a year out of every four, politicians (and reporters) swarm all over the state and bombard the airwaves with advertising. These people they are talking to are not saying “oh yeah, that politics thing: I’m not really into that” or “I don’t care about politics, but I guess it’s good that all these out-of-state people come in and spend money here”. They just seem to be completely unaware of the very word.
That’s not like being unaware of what exactly goes on in a farm, but more like living in one of the nation’s two most prominent farm states and never having heard of a farm. “Farm? You mean like a form you fill out at the doctor’s office?”
It struck me as high also. The figure purports to come from a Department of Education study in 2013, but I can’t trace it beyond a HuffPo link to something called the Statistic Brain Research Institute, and don’t have time right now to dig deeper. (Got to get ready for work.)
It sounds suspect to me. I don’t know Iowa but I have relatives in New Hampshire and they’ve told me you can’t avoid meeting presidential candidates if you venture out in public in the months before the primary.
New Hampshire is little and crowded. Iowa is big and empty, making it easier to miss candidates if you don’t get out much. A lot of people only watch CBN, the Hallmark Channel, and those retro TV channels, which don’t attract many political ads. I find it perfectly believable that many Iowans are unfamiliar with the caucuses.
This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. The government’s pageantry should be ignored by more regular folks.
I find this plausible, if you find somebody who just moved to Iowa for some reason from a state where they have primaries instead of caucuses.
Do you know what a caucus is? Then describe how Iowa’s Democratic caucus works. (If I heard right, the Iowa Republican caucus is now a de facto primary; there’s a secret ballot at the start, and the national convention delegates are awarded proportionally to the total statewide vote.)
Do people even still act like the Iowa caucus is a big deal? Pretty sure Santorum and Huckabee both won it and McCain made a poor showing in 2008. We won’t know until Super Tuesday who has a legitimate shot to win the respective nominations.
Bachmann and Perry felt that the Iowa caucus in 2012 was a big deal. One dropped out; one reassessed.
I suspect that in any group of people, including people who are interested in politics, you would find large groups that have no idea what a caucus is. I follow some politics and watch C SPAN and even I don’t really know what a caucus is.
I agree with that in any of the 49 states that are not Iowa.
I would say this is overstating the case a bit. New Hampshire ranks 21st in population density, with only 1/8 the density of New Jersey. Iowa is 36th in density, with eight times the density of Montana, nine times the density of Wyoming, and over 40 times the density of Alaska.
so, Iowa has folk with the mental capacity of Brendan Dassey in it? Of course Dassey is sympathetic in his current predicament, but NPR can snear at those who haven’t heard of a caucus.
How many of the political ads in Iowa mention the word caucus? Maybe they avoid the word for fear of reminding people how inconvenient it can be to vote.
The equivalent question in Pennsylvania might be – can independents vote in most of our elections? Answer: No, they can only vote in half of them, those being the general elections held in November.
People who don’t vote, or only vote in general elections for President, or maybe governor, will often be unaware of the candidate selection process.
Seems like that would reduce the effectiveness of their advertising.