There are perhaps many good arguments for Iowa maintaining its "first in the nation" status, in terms of the presidential nomination process. The strongest, however, would seem to be an argument that it is representative of the nation as a whole. That is, somehow, Iowa is a microcosm of the national political forces, faithfully mirroring the relevant electoral structures and choices of the macro-stage. This belief is certainly held by some. Palo Alto County, in northwestern Iowa, has long been considered a presidential bellwether, faithfully voting with the winning candidate in a series beginning in 1916. But as media worthy as that fact might be, it seems most likely a product of chance, for its heavily rural, northern European-descended population make it far from demographically representative of contemporary America (Lewis-Beck and Rice 1992, 4-6). A similar charge is commonly made today against the state as a whole, by political commentators across the land. But is it true? Is Iowa really unrepresentative? That is the question we seek to answer.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_lewis_beck/149/