MINNESOTANS USE IOWA AS A GAUGE
My first Iowa Caucus Project blog bridged the transition from Minnesota to Iowa politics by comparing the state fair straw polls of each state. As we reach the halfway point of the Project I made the trek back to Minnesota where the weather was already flirting with the freezing mark to check-in on friends and relatives’ perspective on the state of the Iowa Caucus. While home in God’s Country, I interviewed Pam and Kevin, a modern ideologically conservative couple from rural Minnesota, and Shannon and Jon, an ideologically liberal couple, from the heart of Saint Paul. Both couples have an aptitude toward politics and have been paying attention to the state of the race.
As conservatives bordering Iowa, Pam and Kevin had a unique as they watch the heavily Democratic Caucus field. They perceive Iowa as a representation of the heartland of the country, and a good place to start the presidential selection process. According to the couple, Iowa is a purple, swing state and a much better place to start then a state that is more partisan or a deep shade of either red or blue. Additionally, they see the caucus as an important test to measure who the front runners are and filter out the second and third-tier candidates. Their rural background helps them appreciate the balance Iowa provides with a diversity of ideology and both an urban and rural electorate. On caucus night Kevin and Pam said Iowa needs to serve as a sorting gate for Democrats to narrow the field and unify their party if they want to be at full strength for the general election.
As a Minnesota Republican, Kevin sees the most viable Democratic candidate to oppose Trump as Senator Amy Klobuchar. He said, if the Democrats want to beat Trump strategically, Klobuchar is who he would nominate as a formidable Trump opponent. Kevin and Pam would also like to see Iowa pull a political party they see veering further and further to the left back to the middle, but say caucus night will serve as a gauge for where the party has landed. Pam does not see any Democrat in the current field as a threat to a second term for President Trump and sees Trump flipping Minnesota red in 2020 on the heels of the northern iron range.
Shannon and Jon, both members of the Minnesota Democratic Party, gain an interesting perspective from watching Iowa prepare to caucus. Most interesting to them was the intimacy and broad access Iowans are allowed to have with presidential candidates. The close contact allows voters to research and assess candidates in a thoughtful way. They describe Iowa voters as grounded people and issue-oriented, Shannon and Jon hope that Iowans will use the caucus to narrow the field and help the party focus on a few candidates.
Shannon and Jon agree Iowa is a good place to start the selection process. They both appreciated the independent-minded electorate and a moderate state with a balance of Republican and Democratic voters. While the couple agrees that there are still too many candidates to fully commit to one candidate they are looking for a Democrat who is smart and thoughtful with a genuine concern for the common good. When pressed for their preferred candidate of choice, Shannon leaned toward Elizabeth Warren while Jon was interested in Mayor Pete. They also were aware that picking the wrong candidate may push many districts back to Trump, citing the Minnesota iron range as an example. Shannon and Jon are excited for the results to come in on caucus night, the caucus had the power to launch Obama, and they will be watching to see who Iowa may pull in to the spotlight this go-round.