Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→

Research

Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This piece first appeared on NBCnews.com

First things first: I have nothing against Iowans. The couple of Iowans I have met have all been lovely. It’s the role of Iowa in national politics that infuriates me. By holding the first electoral contest, Iowa distorts our democratic system and squashes the voice of minority electorates.

The first thing that is the matter with Iowa is its lack of racial and ethnic representation that reflects the nation. Saying that Iowa is no microcosm of the United States is an overstatement.

Iowa is one of the whitest states in the nation at 92 percent compared to the national white non-Hispanic population of 77 percent. Overall the U.S. Latino population accounts for 17 percent but in Iowa they make up less than a third, at 5 percent. African Americans and Asian Americans who nationally make up 13 percent and 5 percent of the population are only 3 percent and 2 percent of the state’s residents.

Add to these demographic distortions the overrepresentation of rural areas. Slightly over eighty percent of the U.S. population resides in urban areas; in Iowa, over one-third of the population is rural. This matters because the concrete policy concerns of urban and rural populations are different.

If there were some profound theoretical rationale for why Iowa should go first then maybe I could be persuaded to overlook the state’s complete lack of demographic representation. But there is no reason other than historical accident. (more…)