How politicians fare at the fair
The Iowa State Fair comes six months before a milestone in the Democratic presidential nomination. Iowa is the first state to caucus in the 2020 presidential contest, so candidates spend a lot of time campaigning there, hoping for a boost in later races by doing well in Iowa.
One way to do that is by wooing some of the million-plus people who attend the fair, says political reporter Holly Bailey. There, candidates can snap up support as they stare down stricter qualifications for upcoming debates.
At the fair, graphics editor Kevin Uhrmacher found Iowans overwhelmed by the size of the 2020 field, with many questioning who some of the candidates even are. He asked fairgoers to circle candidates they could recognize on a sheet. “Three of them, no one really knew,” he says.
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- ‘They’re clogging up the system’: How 59 Iowans see the 2020 Democratic field
- Iowa is awash in candidates, but don’t expect clarity until the very end
Campaigning while you’re polling at zero percent
The fair drew candidates such as Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren early in its run. The final weekend drew just one: Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. The moderate Democratic presidential hopeful has yet to qualify for a primary debate and has barely registered in the polls. Based on his fundraising haul, he’s unlikely to be in the third debate in September.
Host Martine Powers asked Moulton what his strategy will look like going forward.
“At the end of the day, if the Democratic Party chooses to go the way of the Republican Party and pick a nominee based on social media metrics or based on who can say the most outrageous things, then I don’t want to win on those metrics,” Moulton says.
- Power Up: 2020 hopeful Seth Moulton scaling back campaign staff
- The Iowa State Fair can make or break a presidential candidate
- These candidates are not polling well. But at the Iowa State Fair, they’re stars.
How to win it all
The Iowa State Fair is not all about politics, of course, but much of it is still a competition, as senior producer Matt Collette can attest.
He sought out the nonpolitical competitors at the fair — blue-ribbon-winning produce, chili cook-off champions and young comedians who wowed the crowds — to figure out what it takes to be a winner, and what the 2020 candidates might learn from these competitive Iowans.
Samantha Schmidt on the sacrifices one person has made to become a mother. And Geoff Edgers remembers Aretha Franklin, one year after her death.
Friday, August 16, 2019
Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey on the outsize influence of Stephen Miller on Trump’s immigration policy. Former Mass. governor Bill Weld makes a long-shot case for the Republican presidential nomination. And a summer field trip with Joel Achenbach.
Tuesday, August 20, 2019