How white are the primaries?

So I was wondering, just how white are the U.S. presidential primaries? A little more precisely, what is the racial composition of the states that hold early presidential primary contests, and how does it compare to the racial composition of the U.S. as a whole? Here’s what the U.S. looks like, according to the official census[1].

White alone 77.4%
Black or African American alone 13.2%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone, 1.2%
Asian alone, percent 5.4%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 0.2%
Two or More Races 2.5%
Hispanic or Latino 17.4%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 62.1%

In contrast, Iowa is 92.1% white alone, with 5.1% being white but Hispanic/Latino. Hence, Iowa is 40% (87.1%/62.1%) whiter than the U.S. as a whole. Iowa is only 26% (3.4%/13.2%) as black and 34% (5.6%/17.4%) as Hispanic/Latino as the rest of the U.S. Asian Iowans are a mere 2.2% of the state’s population, and mixed race Iowans are only 1.7% of it[2]. (I’m ignoring some other racial groups here but only because there’s a limit to how much I can type out in my spare time.)

It gets worse. New Hampshire is 94% white alone, with less than 3% being white but Hispanic/Latino. New Hampshire is 47% (91.3%/62.1%) whiter than the U.S. as a whole. It is a mind-blowing 14% as black (1/5%/13.2%) and 19% (3.3%/17.4%) as Hispanic/Latino as the rest of the U.S. Asians make up a mere 2.5% of the population in New Hampshire, less than half the percentage of the U.S. population as a whole. And those who identify as mixed race are only 1.6% of the population of New Hampshire[3].

Is it disturbing that the first two primary states are so unrepresentative of people of color?  Yes, if the following two conditions are met:

  1. These primaries have a significant effect on the outcome of the electoral process.
  2. This effect disadvantages people of color.

I’ll address these conditions in my next post on this topic.






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