Presidential politics starts with the nominating process, and the nominating process starts in Iowa, where on a wintry day next January hundreds of thousands of people will gather for the two parties' caucuses.Democrats and Republicans are in many ways running in separate states. Democrats gravitate toward the rolling hills of eastern Iowa, keeping an eye on Linn County, home to the second-largest city, Cedar Rapids (after Des Moines). They tend to stop in cities along the Mississippi River, especially Dubuque and Davenport, and to drop by manufacturing strongholds such as Ottumwa.Republicans are more likely to head west, and to put their advertisements on the air in two big western cities, Sioux City and Council Bluffs. They trek through rural counties in the northwest, their travels culminating in the town of Ames, where on Saturday voters will participate in the Republican-only Iowa straw poll. But beyond geography, there are places where a candidate has to go as much to be seen as to see voters, the annual steak fry held by Sen. Tom Harkin in Indianola for Democrats, and the Clay County Fair for Republicans.
SOURCES: Iowa secretary of state, Iowa Democratic Party | The Washington Post - August 01, 2007