The Spectator

Is the Iowa caucus really so important?

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State of play

Iowa became the first US state to pick its election candidates in 1972. How many times since then has the small Midwestern state predicted the eventual winner?

– On nine out of 13 occasions, Iowa has chosen the Democratic candidate who went on to win the nomination. However, in three of those years, the winner was the sitting president, with an obvious advantage.

– In the first two contests ‘uncommitted’ received more votes. The year when the nationwide primaries least followed the example set by Iowa was 1992 when Tom Harkin won 76% of the vote and the eventual winner, Bill Clinton, just 3%.

– As for Republicans, the Iowan result has predicted the outcome in four out of nine contested elections. Iowa rejected John McCain, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump in 2016, as well as Ronald Reagan the first time he stood in 1976.

New ages

What is the median age of the inhabitants of each continent?

Europe                                                          42

North America                                            35

Australasia                                                  33

Asia                                                             31

South America                                          31

Africa                                                           18

Source: World Economic Forum

We work

How has productivity in the public services changed over the past decade? Figure as a percentage of the 2012 level:

2013             101.1

2014             101.3

2015             101.3

2016             102.5

2017             103.3

2018               103.1

2019               104.6

2020                 88.7

2021                 96.8

2022                 99.6

Pushing the envelope

Following the Post Office scandal, it is a wonder that anyone still wants to run a post office. How many are there?

The number of post offices halved between 1980 and 2009, but since then has been stable. In March 2022 there were:

117 Crown Post Offices (main branches).

9,617 agency branches (run by sub-postmasters of the type who fell foul of the Horizon computer system).

1,901 ‘outreach branches’ (part-time mobile branches run from vans or village halls). There has been a slight fall in agency branches since 2009, but the overall number has been made up by outreach branches.

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