Money Talks But So Do Polling Results
Since 1976, Iowa has played a pivotal role in the earliest stages of the presidential election. Most candidates take advantage of every second that they can to spend time in Iowa trying to get a foothold in the first-in-the-nation state and receive a ticket out of the caucuses. However, not every candidate lasts until the Iowa caucuses. Many potential candidates drop out of the race early due to a lack of support or financial resources. In the past week alone, three Democratic candidates announced their campaign suspensions for president: Joe Sestak, Steve Bullock, and Kamala Harris. Each of these candidates had very little support in Iowa, though for one candidate, it was not due to lack of trying. Lack of support in Iowa can end any campaign no matter how hopeful it seemed.
Putting time and money into Iowa is extremely important and candidates and their campaign staff are very aware. An article published by FiveThirtyEight in mid-August stated that overall twenty-three major Democratic presidential candidates had spent a cumulative 336 days campaigning in Iowa. Surely after the events of the past few months since then, the number has grown astronomically.
But the presence in Iowa does not simply include physically being in the state, money can also greatly contribute to the success of campaigns in Iowa. An article by the Des Moines Register addresses some of the campaign finances allocated to Iowa between July and September of this year. In this time, Harris spent the fourth-most on “travel and lodging in the Hawkeye State, rental costs for field offices, audio and visual services for local events and printing by local companies” at $251,118.22. In the same time period, Bullock spent $59,788.56 and Sestak spent $35,295.61 in Iowa. While Harris spent near the top of the candidates in Iowa, she ranked seventh in the amount raised by Iowa donors at $18,522.66 while Sanders, who has received the most in donations from Iowans, has gotten $76,624.66. Bullock had raised only $6,932.07 and Sestak had not raised over $5,000 from Iowans. No matter how much a campaign is spending in Iowa, no campaign can be successful without a consistent donor base.
These efforts to rise out of obscurity in Iowa are determined effective or not through polling numbers. One of the most recent and reliable studies conducted by Selzer & Co. depicts polling support for the three candidates shortly before they withdrew from the race. The poll was conducted between November 8-13 and involved 500 likely democratic caucus-goers in Iowa. The study showed 3 percent support in the state for Harris while Sestak and Bullock both garnered 0 percent. The study also calculated each candidate footprint by considering those that listed the candidate as their first or second choice and those who were actively considering the candidate. Harris was calculated to have a footprint of 46 in Iowa while Bullock and Sestak had much less of an impact at 8 and 3 respectively. Just for reference, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had the largest footprint at 68.
Though Harris had allocated a decent amount of money to her campaign in Iowa, she was unable to get a foothold in the race. Sestak and Bullock both spent less time and money in Iowa than more successful campaigns, and their campaigns felt the effects of it. Whether or not Iowa deserves to go first in the nation, it does, and time and money spent in Iowa are priceless for a successful presidential campaign.