Can A Late Entry Candidate Do Well In Iowa?

Posted: December 15, 2019 | By: Ian Klein Tagged: Blog

With 50 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, it may seem like the window to enter the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination was closed a long time ago. However, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick joined the crowded Democratic field in November. Around the same time last month, a poll of Iowans found that 62 percent of respondents could be persuaded to support a candidate other than the one that is currently their first choice. With some Iowans still keeping an open mind, could it be possible for a late entry candidate to make their move?

I attended a meeting of the Polk County Democrats last month to see if Governor Patrick could persuade Iowans to support his candidacy. The room was filled with at least 100 local Democrats; space was so limited due to numbers that people were practically pressed up against each other. After getting through about an hour of party business, the agenda moved to Governor Patrick, who took an hour to explain why he is running for president and to field questions.

One of the key ideas that Patrick said motivates him is that of making the world a better place for the next generation. Patrick stated that this focus may prompt him to make choices that are politically unpopular, and he also keeps an open mind to different ideas that may be better.

The former Massachusetts governor acknowledged that although he has numerous disagreements with President Trump, one thing Trump was correct about was that establishment politics were leading certain people in the country to feel left behind and unimportant. Patrick opened the floor up to questions, of which he took nine. Iowans were curious about his history with Bain Capital, his thoughts on criminal justice policy, reproductive rights, child care, the economy, and more.

Almost one month removed from that meeting, I was curious to see now if Governor Patrick had gained any support. FiveThirtyEight listed a poll by Emerson College released on December 10 that showed Patrick at 0% support in Iowa. With his polling numbers begs the questions “what does it take to do well in Iowa?” One possible answer to this may explain why Governor Patrick has not seen a surge in support. In Christopher Hull’s book Grassroots Rules: How the Iowa Caucus Helps Elect Presidents, he noted that the amount of days candidates spend in Iowa has a significant impact on a candidate’s caucus results. The in-person interactions that candidates have with Iowans are important. With time running short until the caucuses, Governor Patrick may have a lot of catching up to do with Iowa caucus-goers.