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Posted: January 31, 2016

Think Iowa is all cornfields and caucuses? Think again.

BUMPER CROP--In this Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 photo, Duane Cook drives a combine through a corn field owned by Dave Heiderscheit in rural Balltown, Iowa. Farmers in the U.S. are expected to bring in 13.56 billion bushels of corn, about 1 percent lower than the September estimate but still the third largest crop on record. Record per-acre corn yields are expected in 11 states — including Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP)
Dave Kettering
BUMPER CROP--In this Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 photo, Duane Cook drives a combine through a corn field owned by Dave Heiderscheit in rural Balltown, Iowa. Farmers in the U.S. are expected to bring in 13.56 billion bushels of corn, about 1 percent lower than the September estimate but still the third largest crop on record. Record per-acre corn yields are expected in 11 states — including Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP)

By Elizabeth Hagedorn

When Newsy asked an Iowa resident how many overalls he owned, the answer was surprising.

 

"Rough estimate would be zero," the local man responded.

 

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So, it turns out not all Iowans are farmers — just many of the ones you see interviewed on TV.

 

In fact, fewer than 5 percent of Iowans farm.

 

Manufacturing and financial services contribute more to the state's economy than farming.

 

So there's obviously more to Iowa than its reputation as the state with the most pigs in captivity.

 

But at first glance, Iowa doesn't exactly look like America.

 

"It doesn't represent the rest of the country," said Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC. "Too white. Too evangelical. Too rural." 

 

That's the thing people are criticizing most about the state: It's a poor representation of the country, and yet its caucuses get to go first.

 

Compare Iowa's demographics to the rest of the country's: Non-Hispanic whites make up 87 percent of the state, blacks just over 3 percent and Hispanics 5 percent. Those numbers are significantly lower than the national average.

 

It may not be racially representative of the country, but consider a few facts:

 

The oldest mosque in North America is in Cedar Rapids. 

 

Iowa has the nation's highest literacy rate.

 

Plus, the state has had a significant growth in diversity. Iowa's Hispanic population grew by 100 percent in the past 15 years. The state's Asian and black populations are slow-growing — but still growing.

 

And when it comes to politics, it's tough to criticize Iowa's "representative-ness." It's current two U.S. senators are Republicans, but the state voted for President Barack Obama in the past two elections. It's competitive for both parties, and that's more than a lot of states on the coasts or in the Deep South can say.

 

Perhaps there's more to Iowa than some would have you think.

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