The View From Sioux County: Trump, Cruz, and Environmental Politics


People across the globe are asking the same question about the present state of American electoral politics.  Specifically, why are Ted Cruz and Donald Trump the top two Republican Party presidential contenders?

To understand the basis of Trump’s and Cruz’s popularity, it’s important to look at the places where their political support is strongest.  Sioux County, Iowa, is one of those places.  Below is a synopsis of Sioux County and its residents.  The information (much of it provided by the U.S. Census Bureau) offers a glimpse into the world of Trump and Cruz supporters.

Eight out of 10 residents of Sioux County are of Dutch ancestry.

The Dutch Reformed Church and the Christian Reformed Church are the county’s two largest denominations.  Both churches adhere to Calvinism.

Sioux County possesses a total population of 34,681 people, or 43.9 persons per square mile.  In contrast, Des Moines, Iowa, has approximately 2,500 people per square mile.

Whites make up 87.9% of the population; Latinos are 9.8% of the population; and Black/African-Americans are 1% of the population.

Sioux County has 14,339 registered Republicans and 1,611 registered Democrats.  Republicans outnumber Democrats by almost 9 to 1.

FDR was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the county.

Steve King represents Sioux County in the U.S. House.  King once praised Senator Joseph McCarthy (made infamous during the Red Scare of the 1950s) as an “American hero.”

Ninety-seven percent of Sioux County’s land area is in some form of agricultural production, whether as crop land, a cattle feedlot, or a hog confinement facility.  The average amount of land devoted to agricultural production across Iowa, the most intensely farmed state in the Union, is 85%.

Sioux County contains 1,618 farms.  Average annual income per farm is $996,963.

Livestock sales make up 80% of all farm income.

Sioux County ranks 1st among counties in the state of Iowa and 5th among counties in the U.S. in the value of livestock sales.

Twenty percent of all jobs in the county are related to livestock production.

The county has are over 200 feedlots and hog confinement facilities each holding animals that have a combined weight in excess of 200,000 lbs.  Two hundred thousand pounds is the equivalent of 909 marketable pigs or 143 mature cows.

Hogs outnumber people in the county by a ratio of 35 to 1.

Sioux County has had the highest number of reported stream-killing manure spills of any county in Iowa.

The Big Sioux River flows along Sioux County’s western edge.  In 2012, an environmental watchdog listed the Big Sioux as the 13th most polluted river in the U.S.  The Big Sioux contains dangerous levels of E Coli and fecal coliform.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked all 3,111 counties in the U.S. according to natural amenities.  Sioux County ranked 3,037th.  Only 74 counties had fewer natural amenities.

Note.  Ted Cruz opposes the EPA’s proposed “Water Rule.”  In 2015, he wrote that the rule “Threatens basic property rights, but will also harm both farmers and rural Americans.”  Donald Trump said of the new rule, “it’s a disaster.”  Each man has let it be known that as President he has no intention of enforcing the provisions of the Clean Water Act.



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