Iowa caucus-goers, by the numbers
January 3rd, 2012
04:36 PM ET
11 years ago

Iowa caucus-goers, by the numbers

(CNN) - So what are Tuesday's Iowa caucus-goers like – and how do they compare to the rest of the U.S. population?

Here's a thumbnail profile, by the numbers.

CNN Live: Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. ET for CNN's live special coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and follow real-time results on and on Twitter at #cnnelections. Stay up to date with CNN apps for iPhone, iPad, Android or other phones.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

For starters, they are not a big group. In 2008, about 119,000 people voted in Iowa's Republican caucuses - which is about the same as the population of Allentown, PA.

The biggest difference between caucus-goers and the rest of the country might be in ethnicity. In the 2008 caucuses, CNN exit polls showed that 99% of GOP caucus-goers were white, with less than one percent of any other ethnicity. In the nation as a whole, by contrast, 64% of the population is white, 16% is Hispanic, and 13% is black.

When it comes to religion, GOP caucus voters are more likely to be evangelical or born again. In the most recent CNN/TIME/ORC polling, 51% of likely Republican caucus-goers said they would call themselves evangelical or born again. For the general population nationwide, that figure was 38%.

"Maybe it's not reflective of the country as a whole," says Carol Hunter, political editor at the Des Moines Register. "But reflective of conservative Republican activists? I think they are."

Another difference between Iowans and the rest of the country: their state is in better shape economically. The unemployment rate nationally is 8.6%, but in Iowa it is only 5.7%.

And lastly, caucus participants are more rural: in 2008, only 12% said they live in a city of over 50,000, 19% said they live in the suburbs, and 69% answered "small city/rural."

–CNN's Keating Holland contributed to this report.

Also see:

Gingrich: Romney is lying

Bachmann looks ahead to South Carolina

Gingrich suggests a Tuesday win

Gingrich strives for 'great upset' in Iowa

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Southern Lady

    I have wondered why Iowa is the first state in the caucuses? It is a good state with very good people but is in no way an example of the US population at large. It is mainly rural, has an aging population, is mostly white and appears to not exhibit the many problems experienced by the other states which need to be addressed. The candidates seem to talk only about social issues and not the real problems facing us today – jobs. There must be a reason it is first but I just can't imagine why. Does anyone know?

    January 3, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. Jason

    So policing the world and having thousands of nukes makes you feel warm and fuzzy..

    $800+ billion spent in Iraq
    4,500 American lives
    100,000+ American casualties
    30,000 Iraqi lives
    300,000 Iraqi casualties
    350 Journalists killed
    450 Academics killed
    1 military-related suicide every 36 hours
    20+ Veteran suicides per day

    Our recent withdrawl from Iraq has revealed PTSD of epidemic proportions. Suicide rates will only go up. They need our help NOW. Our friends and family didn't volunteer for these illegal wars. Ron Paul has more donations from military personnel than all the other candidates do combined. If this isn't a cry for help, I don't know what is.

    Next up:

    January 3, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Ritz

    The reason the caucus goers are 99% white might be due to the fact that the state has a population that is 96% white. Why is CNN so intrigued with playing the race card?

    January 3, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    Oh goodie all them white folks caucasing (is that a word?)
    @rirz – it's not cnn playing the race card. The population of Iowa does not mirror the rest of the US. We should do like England. They figure out who they want in six weeks. I think that's the time their lying politicians have for them to make up their minds.

    January 3, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. insight iowa

    We will see how many really turn out. If you went to hear the field speak there was usually 20 to 50 people tops (I think they were bused in because a couple of buses would pull up a few people would get off and be part of the small groups). Ron Paul started to pull in 100 or so. 41% are still not sure. It might be a slow night for the media here in Iowa. Can't wait for the clowns to leave town... however, the million spent here help the economy. Anyone needing popcorn?

    January 3, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. Greg

    It is a caucus state rather than a primary, caucuses are a lengthier process. They are actually voting for county delegates who will then vote for district and state delegates. They don't actually assign their delegates until much later. I would argue that voting first is more important to Iowans than it is to most other states, so it is left that way. It isn't necessarily a reflection of the nation as w whole, and it isn't meant to be. It works well as a weeding out process though. After the early voting states, many candidates will run out of steam. Unfortunately for those of us voting in March we may be missing out on the opportunity to vote on our favored candidate.

    January 3, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Ritz

    @Marie MD – yes but England is also the size of Alabama so that makes things go quicker. Iowa may not mirror the US by a race percentage but what state does? California and Texas wouldn't as the number of latinos are close to the 40% range. Montana and Wyoming are in the 90% white. Georgia and Mississippi arent either with a 35% black population. Illinois and New York would be the few states to come close to that ideal percentage. You see the problem we have here and why I am calling CNN on playing the race card(as they love to do)?

    January 3, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Matt Jones

    It's obviously a tradition which has to be rescinded. Iowa being highly religious and mainly white with old beliefs and old traditions has no bearing with the thoughts and feelings of the people of 2012.

    January 3, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. ed helmstetter

    i think matt jones` comment may have been true in past years but not this year-ron paul`s supporters will prove this out

    January 3, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Phil in KC

    "In the 2008 caucuses, CNN exit polls showed that 99% of GOP caucus-goers were white, with less than one percent of any other ethnicity. In the nation as a whole, by contrast, 64% of the population is white, 16% is Hispanic, and 13% is black."
    Your article compares Iowa Republican caucus-goers with the population at large. If you want a fair comparison, compare them against Republicans nation-wide. I think you'll find that the majority of Republicans are white. I think you'll also find the majority are male and older than the rest of the population. So the comparisons in the article are skewed and invalid.

    January 3, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. LacrosseMom(real one)

    "99% of Iowa caucus goers are white....." Yes, I can see that in the crowds the GOP-clowns have gathered around them. These folks do not represent America.

    ITS NOT the "race card" its the truth! Let's be honest, 99% of the folks going to caucus tonight are....... WHITE? SO? This IS who supports the GOP.

    January 3, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Voice of Reason

    Have all the states Hold primaries or caucuses on the same day. Problem solved.

    Now the candidates have to appeal to a broad and diverse populace in all regions, not just hang out in Iowa wearing blue jeans and pretending that they enjoy spending all their time in small-town cafes listening to hicks and farmers ballyache about 'those darned illegals' and the price of grain...

    January 3, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |