Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are overhyped

Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are overhyped

By John Enslen, Contributor | Posted - Dec. 29, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- What do the states of Iowa, Utah, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada and Arkansas have in common? Each of those six states has six electoral votes in the 2012 presidential election.

The number of electoral votes a state possesses is determined by adding the number of U.S. Senators (always two), plus the number of U.S. Congressmen, which is based on population. The population is determined by the most recent federal census. There are a total of 538 electoral votes, so the magic majority number for claiming victory is 270.

The state of Iowa, which was reduced from seven electoral votes to six following the 2010 census, receives more media attention per electoral vote than any other state. The news media often hypes the Iowa caucus as if the state were a major electoral player. Being first distorts its true numerical importance.

The media distortion continues with the voting in New Hampshire, which has two fewer electoral votes than Iowa. As a comparative example, the state of South Carolina, with nine electoral votes, has more than double the electoral votes allotted to New Hampshire. If media attention were divided proportionally by electoral vote, Florida should have already received more attention than Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina combined, but it has not. Florida has 29 electoral votes.


There are seven states that are in a tie for the least number of electoral votes, and five of those seven states are in the West. Those seven states have three electoral votes each. They are North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Vermont and Delaware. The District of Columbia also has only three. To make a comparison, those seven states plus the District of Columbia and adding in Idaho would make a combined electoral vote (28) that is still less than the state of Florida (29).

A candidate would need to carry a minimum of 11 states to obtain the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the nomination. Those 11 largest-electoral-vote states providing the quickest route to nomination are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (21), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15) and New Jersey (14), for a total of 271 electoral votes.

John Enslen is a small-town courtroom lawyer in Alabama who writes about Mormon history. He has been a history consultant for artist T. C. Christensen and authored the book "The Bible and The Book of Mormon—Connecting Links."

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