This week, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama made some provocative points about how Democratic primaries should proceed. He noted that because Iowa and New Hampshire are the first and second states where primaries are held, they tend to have an impact on how the rest of the primaries turn out. This could be a problem considering these states are majority White. Iowa holds a 90.7 percent white population, while New Hampshire holds a 93.2 percent white population, according to the Census Bureau.
In an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, Castro explained:
“I actually do believe that we do need to change the order of the states. Demographically, it’s not reflective of the U.S. as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party, and I believe other states should have their chance.”
Castro boldly made this statement even as he’s currently campaigning in Iowa himself. Meanwhile, when his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, was asked whether Iowa and New Hampshire should maintain their first-in-the-country statuses on Sunday, she responded with “Are you actually going go to ask me to sit here and criticize Iowa and New Hampshire? I’m just a player in the game on this one.”
Castro seemed to be responding to Warren when he spoke with Vogue and called out the hypocrisy of giving a comparatively small group of white Democrats the privilege of picking the presidential favorite first.
“We can’t go around thanking Black women for powering Democrats to victory all over the country, and then at the same time hold our first caucus and our first primary in states that have almost no African-Americans,” he said. “We’re right to call Republicans out when they suppress the votes of African-Americans or Latinos, but we’ve also got to recognize that this 50-year-old process was created during a time when minority voices had zero power in the party.” Iowa started going first in the primaries in 1972.
Castro acknowledged that the third and fourth primary states, Nevada and South Carolina, are more racially diverse. But he also argued that the first states of primary season can be a determining factor in a candidate’s momentum. “Nobody can pretend that the first one or two states don’t have an oversized influence on what happens in the whole process,” he said. “If you can’t do well in Iowa or New Hampshire, then the chances of doing well in Nevada or South Carolina are much slimmer.” According to a chart created by Vox, candidates who take Iowa and/or New Hampshire actually do end up winning their party’s nomination.
Now granted, Castro could be bringing this topic up because polls show that he’s not doing so well in Iowa. The Latino candidate is reportedly polling at 1 percent in the state, according to Vogue and he also reportedly laid off campaign staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina. However, he chose his words carefully and explained that he’s only thinking of how demographics change state-to-state.
“I believe…that voters in a more diverse state will have different considerations of their candidates. Everybody has been very kind to me here in Iowa…and also in New Hampshire,” he said. “At the same time, I know, having been in politics, that there’s a difference between neighborhoods that are diverse versus ones that are not. There’s a difference between states that are diverse and those that are not. If people are living and working around people that are different from themselves, they’re more likely as people and as voters to understand a range of different issues in more depth.”
Regardless of Castro’s motives, it would be too late for him to try to change the order of the states in the primaries. The much-anticipated Iowa caucus is on Feb. 3 while the New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 11. Castro is urging the Democratic National Convention to consider changes for 2024 elections.
Of course, may white folks who are used to the privilege of going first had critiques for Castro, which you can check out below.