A Tale of Two Yangs
On Saturday, September 19, Democratic candidate Andrew Yang made the rounds in Des Moines, IA, balancing big crowds at the Steak Fry with smaller, more intimate ones at an appearance at a healthcare forum chaired by leftist news organization NowThis. Both settings served as token examples for how Yang, and Democratic candidates as a whole, match a need to rally voters against having a nuanced understanding of the policies voters look for.
Yang’s day began at the Steak Fry. Around midday, Yang grilled three steaks with an apron over his classic tie-free suit, but the normally jovial candidate seemed more interested in finding the perfect rareness of steak rather than entertaining the crowds of reporters and fans surrounding the fenced-off grill. After being directed by a filming reporter to his left, Yang danced a “steak cookin’ dance.”
Later, when asked to pose for a reporter photo-op, Yang crouched eye-level with the grill and pinched his grill tongs while grinning at photographers on the opposite side of the grill.
After grilling the steaks, Yang talked with voters standing against the fence and offered to take photos. Only two women of the spectators took up Yang’s offer. Then, Yang ate one of the steaks that he had grilled and shared it with his Campaign Manager Zach Graumann. They cut it in sync, by the way.
Overall, Yang’s grill presence was disappointing compared to other candidates (particularly Steve Bullock who consistently wore a smile and joked with reporters and spectators). Within the fenced-off grill area, Yang was surrounded by an sw
ell of campaign staffers and engaged very little with surrounding spectators. For a candidate to turn his back on potential caucus-goers was unusual, to say the least. Unlike fellow candidate Steve Bullock, who joked about the steak being from Montana versus Iowa, Yang made very little attempt to interact or break the ice with supporters.
After the Steak Fry, Yang headed to local Des Moines hotspot Raygun, where he participated in a healthcare forum hosted by NowThis and Progress Iowa. The casual setup and single-digit number of participants was a far cry from the crowds he spoke to at the Steak Fry, but nonetheless, Yang engaged the attendees in a conversational dialogue, tackling topics such as
opioids, single-payer systems, and youth vaping. The grilling Andrew Yang who did little to interact with voters was long gone, replaced instead with one who was willing to talk through the complexities of his political belief system with impressive succinctness and an empathetic tone. An especially poignant moment occurred when Yang and a mother shared the challenges their current healthcare system has had on them as they both raise their children with autism.
Despite a relatively detached performance at the Steak Fry earlier that day, the healthcare forum proved that Yang can hold his own on policy issues and engage voters on a personal level. Such
skills are necessary to convince Iowans he is a worthy candidate.
According to the latest YouGov poll, from Sept. 22-24, Yang is polling at 2% in seventh place.
*We would like to note that selecting a title was challenging when there are so many fantastic rhyming options. While A Tale of Two Yangs made sense for the story, other options included / Hanging with the Yang Gang, Latest Polling has Yang Gang Saying Dang, Yang Gang takes on Des Moines with Bang, Dang, In Des Moines do I detect a Tang of the Yang Gang, and Who Rang, it’s Yang