Why is Iowa so Important?
Iowa has had its ups and downs when it comes to caucuses since its statehood in 1846, but in 1972 it set itself apart as a defining location for American politics. Following a rocky election year in 1968, the National Democratic Party sought to revamp their strategies to appeal to minorities, women, and the younger generations. It was during this transition that Iowa came into its own, almost by mistake. To achieve their target market in a calculated way the Iowa Caucuses planned a date to meet in which local, state, and national officers could come together in a single location, that date so happened to be first in the nation for caucuses. The result of their planning would come to be what we know today as the Iowa Caucuses.
In 1972 presidential candidate Senator George McGovern had his campaign manager, Gary Hart, plan an event in Iowa during the caucuses, bringing loads of media outlets along with on the trail. Sen. McGovern’s efforts would kick off the first major highlight of the Iowa Caucuses as well as outshine his running mate, Richard Nixon, in Iowa. The spark in interest for Sen. McGovern following his appearance at the Iowa Caucuses would lead Jimmy C
arter to follow his footsteps in the next election for president. His heavy presence in Iowa and spirit for the National Democratic Party would land the Georgia Governor in the White House and forever mark Iowa as the place to be to get elected president.
‘Iowa! For some reason you have to come here to be President’, a slogan written by Des Moines popular brand, Raygun, plays into the history of the caucuses and those fateful election cycles that made this fly-over state a pinnacle stop in American politics. But what do the caucuses do?
Caucuses, specifically the Iowa Caucuses are utilized as a means of fishing out strong candidates for president, learning about candidates’ platforms, and weeding out nominations for party endorsement. Candidates with strong baselines and grasp on the citizens gain the recognition and following they need to work towards the rest of the state primaries. The Iowa caucuses are the beginning of the beautiful process to determine the next president of the United States.
It for this reason that Iowa is where you have to go to be president and what makes Iowa so important to American politics! In 2016 Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich summed up Iowa’s influence on presidential politics quite well: “Iowa is not first because it’s important, but rather important because it’s first.”