Caucuses & Cocktails
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa State Historical Museum was lit up after hours for a mock caucus on a Thursday night with freezing rain and an accompanying weather advisory. But what’s new for Des Moines in mid-January?
Out front of the venue was the ever patriotic C-SPAN bus. Decked out in red, white and blue, the bus was cruising around the Des Moines metro for the day. The C-SPAN bus puts any campaign bus to shame and the inside had plenty of 2020 caucus swag to go around.
Attendees gathered in the front lounge of the museum to caucus for their favorite Iowa celebrity. Among the contenders were Jason Mamoa (Ankeny), Ashton Kutcher (Cedar Rapids), and Cloris Leachman (Des Moines). The set up allowed for people to take part in both Democrat and Republican versions of a caucus as well as learn the history of why parties do it this way.
Rachel Paine-Caufield, Professor and Director of Political Events at Drake University, opened the program with a quote. “Iowa is not first because it is important, Iowa is important because it is first,” she says. Testing the crowd on their caucus trivia, Paine-Caufield talked about the road to the caucuses. Who has won and who hasn’t won but rose to the White House anyway were the type of contenders in trivia.
This was my second mock caucus but my first experience with the Democratic caucus. One attendee mentioned, “I kinda want to be persuaded by someone else, just to kinda see it happen.” Events like a mock caucus bring more familiarity to a process that could possibly be overstimulating to some.
Local organizations have been holding mock caucuses for months now and pairing caucuses with a few cocktails never hurt with turnout. The most valuable part of a mock caucus is when curious voters turn into committed caucus-goers over learning the process. Learning the ins and out, the why’s and how-tos can truly be the difference between someone making an effort to be a part of a voting system that they know and trust.