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Monday, Feb. 15, 2016

MEDIA MADNESS

Why so much hype over two small states?

Why so much hype over two small states?

I have a daily ritual. If possible, at 5:30 p.m. every day, I sit down with a rum and coke with a little cherry juice added in to watch the national news followed by the local news. After that hour is over, I am either depressed, angry or befuddled. Sometimes all three. The national news media goes on ad infinitum, a.k.a. ad nauseam, over the most insignificant events.

A current prime example is the hype that has been and is still being given to the states of Iowa and New Hampshire when it comes to the presidential primaries. The two states are in no way reflective of the demographics of the entire United States. But Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders must be wallowing in the glory being heaped upon them by the national news media.

Here’s the deal. Iowa has a population of 3.1 million. New Hampshire has a population of 1.3 million. Combined, that’s 4.4 million people, which is 0.01 percent of the entire population of the United States, which is 319 million.

Iowa is 92 percent white, 3 percent black, and 5 percent other races. New Hampshire is 94 percent white, 1.5 percent black, and 4.5 percent other races. Iowa has four electoral votes, and New Hampshire has six, making a total of 10 out of 538 electoral votes nationally of which 270 are needed to win the presidency. Louisiana, by the way, has eight electoral votes.

In contrast, the demographics of the United States show that 62.1 percent of its population is white, 17.4 percent is Hispanic, 13.2 percent is black, 5.4 percent is Asian, and 1.9 percent are other races. So, it may be a little premature to canonize Trump and Sanders at this point in time as many more presidential primaries lie ahead.

A clearer picture may be forthcoming when Nevada and South Carolina hold their primaries Feb. 20. But the proof in the pudding likely will not be known until Super Tuesday, which is March 1. On Super Tuesday, 14 states will have their presidential preference primaries. They are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

If we are to believe the national news media, as goes Iowa and New Hampshire, so goes the nation. We will find out if that is a viable theory soon enough. Perhaps the results in those two states will influence some undecided voters. Sometimes in the past the two states did give a big boost to a candidate, but sometimes they did not. Super Tuesday should provide some answers.

Let’s take a look at the latest compilation of national polls according to RealClearPolitics.com. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Sanders 49.3 percent to 36 percent among Democratic voters. That leaves 14.7 percent undecided or preferring another candidate.

A compilation of national polls on the Republican side has these results: Trump 29.5 percent, Ted Cruz 21, Marco Rubio 17.8, Dr. Ben Carson 7.8, Jeb Bush 4.3, John Kasich 4.0, Chris Christie 2.5, and Carly Fiorina 2.5 percent.

Christie and Fiorina have suspended their campaigns. It will be interesting to see the results of the national polls, which are taken after Iowa and New Hampshire voted.

What seems incongruous in all of this is those current voters supporting Trump and Sanders are doing so because they are apparently fed up with establishment politicians and government in general. But what one has to realize is the current policies were mostly put in place by Congress and state legislatures, not the president or governors. So that begs the question, where were these “revolutionaries” when congressional elections and state legislative elections were held.

For years, voters seem to re-elect the politicians who have caused the current state of voter unrest.

For example, it is highly unlikely if Trump is elected president that he would be able to accomplish all of his wild ideas, especially since he has never held an elected office and dealt with the likes of Congress and knows little about foreign policy. In other words, talk is cheap. The same goes for Sanders. Young people have bought into his socialist ideas about how they would like America to be. Should he be elected, there is no way he would be able to institute free health care for all, ensure a free college education for all students and break up big banks. All of their ideas sound good to those who are politically naive and have not been keeping up with what is taking place in our governmental bodies.

A hint: A little research will show Sanders is more establishment than not.

Whoever is elected president, whether it be a Democrat or a Republican, will still have to deal with a bitterly partisan Congress on every initiative that is proposed.

Is the government in Washington broken? Absolutely. Can Trump or Sanders work miracles to fix it? Absolutely not. We have seen what happened with President Barack Obama. It is a lesson to be learned.

Young voters bought into his idea of change, but very little has been accomplished because of roadblocks in Congress. Those young people who voted for Obama no longer view him as their savior. So be careful what you wish for.

Lou Gehrig Burnett, an award-winning journalist, has been involved with politics for 44 years and was a congressional aide in Washington, D.C., for 27 years. He also served as executive assistant to former Shreveport Mayor Bo Williams. Burnett is the publisher of the weekly “FaxNet Update” and can be reached at 861-0552 or louburnett@comcast.net.

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