The state has fought to keep it in the first spot for Democrats to show up without a protective bubble and shake hands with its voters…
Along with New Hampshire….It’s none representative of the rest of the Democratic voting states….
But it makes money and gets its attention….
Every four years, Iowa is the top prize in politics, the first and perhaps most important jewel in the crown.
Ahead of every presidential election, candidates sprint across the first-in-the-nation nominating state to pitch themselves to voters as the best person to lead their party. But the 2020 Democratic primary, with its historically crowded field, has turned the quadrennial footrace into a hectic stampede.
There are the candidates, of course, who descend on the state in their painted buses and black SUVs, racing from middle school gymnasiums to coffee shops to senior centers to make their case to any heartland voter looking for a viable candidate.
But with them comes a storm of others: their campaign staffers, strategists, the political press, even voters from neighboring states eager to catch a glimpse of the next potential White House occupant.
Every four years, Iowa plays host to them all.
Iowa becomes a destination, no the destination, in politics, leading to the first caucuses that will begin the process of selecting the next president. This year they will be held on Feb. 3, less than a month from now.
Some Iowans love it. Suddenly, Iowa is not just a flyover state but a political mecca with the vaunted reputation of being able to predict a party’s eventual nominee (though it often doesn’t — ask Rick Santorum). Some Iowans come dressed for the part, dusting off their caucus uniforms like retired superheroes donning their capes: American flag suits, Abraham Lincoln top hats, Uncle Sam Halloween costumes.
Money flows in. Hotels are booked. Restaurants are full. Towns with less than 1,000 people — less than 500 people — are, briefly, the center of attention.
Brew pubs and high schools become must-stops on the campaign trail. Local parades and picnics draw national coverage. The annual state fair, with its butter cow and fried things on sticks, becomes a political summit. Potluck dinners hold the same weight as closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill. There are rallies and marches. There are drum lines and rock bands.
There comes a point when the race takes over. The candidates’ names are everywhere: On signs planted in yards. Blaring from billboards by the highway. Peering out of coffee shop windows….