Living in Society

Chasing Presidential Candidates

Detail from the Internet Headline of the Monmouth University Poll, April 11, 2019

Our county-wide newspaper reported more than 900 people turned out to see and hear U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speak at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City Wednesday night. Harris is running for president.

She is one of roughly two dozen presidential hopefuls courting Democrats in the run up to the 2020 Iowa precinct caucuses, which are first in the nation among presidential preference polling. In Iowa we don’t call it voting because we don’t want New Hampshire, which has a law requiring them to hold the first in the nation primary election, to get mad. According to the Des Moines Register, there have been about 300 candidate events like Harris’ this election cycle.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to be in the Hawkeye State today, visiting the emblematic disaster wrought by government policy in the form of extreme weather and severe flooding made worse by global warming. Pence and his boss are also running for president and today’s disaster walk also serves as a campaign stop, that’s how base our politics has become.

I’m more interested in Democrats.

Iowa has not dealt with political hugster in chief, Joe Biden, who leads Democrats in the recent Monmouth University poll of 350 prospective caucus-goers.

I don’t see the support for Biden. While his 27 percent puts him in front of this murder of crows, it may be a ceiling, subject to being overtaken as the field consolidates. I also don’t believe my cohort wants someone our age as president. That polling calls were split 50-50, landline – mobile, favors a certain kind of sixty- or seventy-something. The kind that likes what is familiar whether Biden or Sanders. But what do I know? I didn’t ask 350 people and am limited by Dunbar’s Number. If curious about the horse race or this poll, click the image above.

Local elected officials seem to be chasing the presidential candidate selfie with gusto. A few electeds have declared for a single candidate, most have not. The sensible plan is to wait until another 300 candidate visits to Iowa have passed and decide by end of summer. Declaring too early can prove to be problematic, especially if the chosen one drops out early. If Iowa is to remain first in the nation, multiple candidate selfies make things seem welcoming and unbiased during the early days of the campaign.

I don’t feel a need to chase candidates to meet with or hear them in person. I understand how video services on the internet work and for the most part, adequate candidate video becomes available after key events. My personal interaction with candidates is important to personal story-telling. I’d like one or two more encounters to add to my repertory of hearing Julián Castro speak bathed in the light of mobile phones during a power outage (click here for my post on the Castro visit). Deciding by Labor Day allows plenty of time to work in my precinct for a chosen candidate. My current post about the Iowa caucuses can be found here.

All this candidate chasing is fine, but the main prize in 2020 will be the U.S. Senate seat currently held by our junior senator, Joni Ernst. According to news reports, she has $2.8 million campaign cash on hand for the election. Democrats haven’t picked a candidate to challenge Ernst and aren’t expected to finalize a decision until after the 2020 summer primary. We’re starting the race with shackles binding our ankles, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pull an upset. Regaining control of the U.S. Senate is essential to hopes of implementing a Democratic agenda in the federal government under a Democratic president.

When I look at the 24 candidates identified in the Monmouth University poll there are only a few about which I’m interested in hearing more. In no particular order, they are Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Jay Inslee. The ten with less than one percent support in the poll should read the writing on the wall and gracefully make their way to the exits. As for me, I’ll be seeking opportunities to post about the campaign as I attend more events, midst a life of staying active in society. Staying active is about a lot more than politics.