It's time to ditch Iowa and New Hampshire
© Greg Nash

The Democratic Party’s decision to allow Iowa and New Hampshire to dominate the nominating process for president is hurting the party’s ability to win. Women and candidates of color have been harmed by the myth of ‘electability’ and whiteness of early states deemed vitality important to attracting donors, endorsements and volunteers to win.

While we can’t change the order for this primary so late in the game, we should be taking these early states with a grain of salt if we have any interest in a candidate who can truly inspire the base -- women of color, people of color, and progressives -- and therefore win.

For that reason, Nevada should be top of mind right now for everyone from pundits to donors to voters who want to know who can gain the momentum needed to take the White House. Women of color are a fundamental pillar of the national party’s base, a quarter of all Democrats nationwide, and a similar 26 percent of the Democratic electorate in Nevada. The state was pivotal in the 2008 and 2016 presidential primaries, but it should have even more sway as such a clear mirror of Democratic demographics nationwide.

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s why we polled Nevada women of color this week, and what we found is striking: candidates who are deemed ‘electable’ based on their Iowa and New Hampshire numbers would tank the Democratic Party in a general election. Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegFormer Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan dies How Republicans can embrace environmentalism and win In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over MORE polled at just 2 percent with women of color in Nevada, while Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery GOP sparks backlash after excluding election funds from COVID-19 bill Hillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power MORE (D-Minn.) was at just 1 percent.

Those are disqualifying numbers. These candidates are polling so low it's clear they aren't resonating. Party pundits have spent so many hours worrying about Obama/Trump voters they have failed to account for the party’s much more influential members: the women of color whose votes, volunteer hours, and strategic brilliance are key to victory.

Meanwhile, 22 percent of women of color in Nevada are still undecided. That should be a deafening wakeup call to campaigns. There is still time to woo us, and moves like Elizabeth Warren’s endorsing down-ballot candidates like Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney in Chicago is a smart move. Early investment is hard to beat, but it’s not everything.

We are seeing Tom SteyerTom SteyerSteyer endorses reparations bill, commits to working with Jackson Lee Progressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches MORE invest heavily in more diverse states like Nevada and South Carolina instead of the majority white first states, and those investments paid off -- he has entered the 2nd tier in our poll alongside Warren, where they poll at 14 percent and 10 percent respectively. Both have a chance to overtake frontrunners Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP lawmaker: Democratic Party 'used to be more moderate' 4 reasons why Trump can't be written off — yet Progressives lost the battle for the Democratic Party's soul MORE (I-Vt.), at 22 percent, and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Democratic Party platform endorses Trump's NASA moon program Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency Abrams: Trump 'doing his best to undermine our confidence' in voting system MORE, at 24 percent -- if they can successfully inspire women of color.

We chose Nevada because no candidate can win the White House without women of color, and of early states, Nevada best represents this core constituency. In addition to being a quarter of all Democrats, women of color are also 1 in 4 voters in key swing states. Democrats win when turnout among women of color is above the national average -- like in 2018. When women of color aren’t inspired and turnout is below average, like in 2016, Democrats lose. That means we need Nevada more than ever in this primary, we need to know which candidates are inspiring this core constituency, and which candidates are dedicated to investing in us.

ADVERTISEMENT

There has been over emphasis on Iowa and New Hampshire as early states, and the impact has been a winnowing field of lilly-white top tier candidates. If Nevada and South Carolina were moved up to equal standing with Iowa and New Hampshire, we could mitigate the damage of these whiter states in years to come. But for now, we have to use common sense.

Don’t let Iowa or New Hampshire sway your idea of who is electable. It won’t be until after Nevada and South Carolina vote that we’ll know for sure the best candidate to beat Trump in November.

Aimee Allison is the founder and president of She the People, a national network of women of color in politics.