Where in the World is John Kasich?

Posted: December 15, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog

The Onion: the favorite satirical newspaper that has been cranking out hits since 1988. It has truly mastered the art of reading like any other newspaper article and continues to incorporate current events. However, in an article just recently published, the subject might as well be true: “Iowa Residents Mystified After Strange Sign Bearing Word ‘Kasich’ Appears On Roadside Overnight.”

Having just spent a measly eight days in Iowa so far, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has barely scratched the surface in Iowa, having really only attended Iowa’s larger cities.

Kasich, in those eight days, has only had 15 events in total, an average of less than two per day. With those events that Kasich did attend, they seem to be centered around traditional, high-media events to the Iowa caucuses, like the Iowa State Fair or speaking at Iowa State University. Nevertheless, these events do have large populations that they can pull their audiences from, something the Kasich campaign may need after having so few events.

While he may not be spending a lot of time physically in Iowa, Kasich has been utilizing a new campaign tactic that I haven’t seen any other campaign use: the tele-town hall. Voters can call in and listen to Kasich give his basic stump speech and answer any questions that callers submitted.

I tuned in to one of these tele-town halls back in October that was specifically aimed at Iowa voters. The 45-minute call felt incredibly scripted and it was completely obvious that the questions were being handpicked to allow Kasich to answer the ones that would make him look good. For instance, I submitted one question through their website and submitted another over the phone once I was on the call. My first question, which was about bipartisanship in government, was the first answered when I got on the call. As for my second question, which was about same-sex marriage, I never heard a word about it. What I did hear was the facilitator (not Kasich) remind the listeners at least seven times that they could still submit questions and he gave instructions on how to. Yet, I always knew they were never completely out of questions to use.

Regardless, this technique allows Kasich to connect with Iowa voters no matter where he may be on the campaign trail. He’s virtualized retail politicking, but I’m doubtful that it will be effective with Iowan voters who are used to meeting all of the presidential candidates in person.Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.08.41 AM

Oddly enough, as I was writing this post, I got an email notification for the Kasich Campaign. It announced two new events that Kasich would be hosting, a town hall in Waterloo and a town hall in Ankeny. After reading that email, I do have one piece of advice for the Kasich campaign for their next email blast: Include the dates of your events so people can actually show up. That would be much appreciated.

Nevertheless, Kasich’s polling in Iowa seems to match up with the amount of time he has spent here, reaffirming the necessity of retail politics in presidential elections. If he’s serious about winning the nomination, Kasich may want to consider spending more than eight days in Iowa.

IMG_1200Blevins is a junior politics and strategic political communications double major at Drake. He avidly follows Postmodern Jukebox, is a strong proponent of the color orange, and can often be found relaxing in a hammock if it’s a nice day out. Follow him on Twitter.