I have often been asked, “There are so many Iranian Americans in California, how come the Presidential candidates are not asking for our votes?”

This is a good place to start our discussions about the Iranian-American voter and our potential impact on electoral politics. There are so many factors that help determine the relative impact of any community on the political process, and certainly the number of potential voters is one important variable.

(Below the fold I’m going to start our discussion about the potential impact of our community on the political debate, and begin a series on the 2008 election cycle…)

In the presidential primary cycle however, the most important factor may be where you live. Early caucus and primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada have a much bigger impact on the issues candidates address. Since the Iranian-American population in those states is far smaller then the national average (The 2000 census claimed only 491 Iranians lived in New Hampshire for example), we tend to be under-represented in the process.

(To see how many Iranian Americans live in your state or even district, check out NIAC’s “IranCensus” report from 2003)

This year, for the first time in decades, it is conceivable that the parties will not have chosen their nominees before “Super Tuesday”. Only six states will have voted during all of January, and on February 5 2008, 20 states are slated to hold primaries to select their party’s nominees for the Presidency. California, New York, and Illinois (with relatively large Iranian-American populations) are three of those states.

In addition, this election cycle is somewhat unique in that of the 34 Senate seats up for election this cycle, fully a third are going to be competitive, in states such as Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, and Colorado.

The 2008 election cycle provides a very distinct opportunity for the Iranian American community to impact the political debate in certain states, and our community should take advantage of this opportunity.

Over the course of the next twelve months, and particularly over the next three months during primary season, I will attempt to inform you about the electoral landscape and opportunities for our community to impact the discourse on the campaign trail. Join me in the comments section to talk about your state’s elections or other electoral topics you might be interested in.

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