First-in-the-nation contest first because of tradition - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

First-in-the-nation contest first because of tradition


After a full year of campaigning, today marks the first contest of the 2012 presidential season.

The Iowa caucuses will be held tonight all over the state of Iowa, and the voters in Iowa are getting ready to head to their precincts tonight to voice their support for a candidate.

But why, exactly, do they get to go first?

"Well, the Iowa caucus is really a creation of the media, and it didn't get that much publicity until the early 70s," said Dr. Larry Carter, Senior Lecturer of Political Science at UT Tyler. "And then it became a great place for a different kind of campaign."

The kind of campaign where you have to go door to door meeting voters, who then gather together and publicly support one candidate over another, something Dr. Carter isn't crazy about.

"You lose the secrecy and the privacy in a caucus that you have in the primary because you have to, at a meeting of people that you may not know, you have to tell them who you're going to vote for," he said.

That's not Carter's only problem with the Iowa caucus.

"I think the criticisms, and these are legitimate criticisms, first of all, it's a small state, it's 3 million people. It's 91 or 92% white, so it's not representative of other states at all," Carter said.

But despite the criticisms, Iowa gets to go first, mainly because of tradition -- because it's kicked off the election season for the last 40 years.

And made the race interesting, in some cases. The candidate who wins Iowa isn't always the nominee, but the race can change overnight because a few voters got together in a room.

"It's just a view of politics itself. What should politics be? What should the formula be for the selection of the president? To some people this is perfect, it's a version of the town hall meeting in New England that the country started with," Carter said.

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