Election 2020: Can Iowa Caucuses Find Democratic Frontrunner?

Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

We are now less than 20 days until the start of the 2020 election with Iowans going caucus for the next Democratic nominee on February 3rd. For the majority of December, what once was a potential 5 man race seemed to have diminished to a one on one matchup with both South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pulling ahead of the pack and dominating fundraising within the state. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s some-days I’m-a-progressive-icon and some-days-I’m-Mitt-Romney message has simply not resonated with enough people in order for her to build on her October-November momentum and has sucked the life out of her early state campaigns. Former Vice President Biden’s continuous gaffes and lack of excitement in his base had caused him to take a continuous slide in the polls into being the 4th man out. 

Now, with ¾ of the Vice President’s “No Malarkey” bus tour done he has found himself with a 5 point turnaround in the RealClearPolitics average to make himself the new frontrunner and bring life to the idea of a 3 man tossup. Biden brought Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer and Former Secretary of State John Kerry along for the 27 stop town hall-style tour that stretches across the state, attracting modest size crowds in most all of his events. The Biden campaign has shown a clear demonstration of commitment to the state, knowing that a win in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire could all but seal the momentum swing he needed to take a brisk walk on his way to the nomination. 

Buttigieg has taken many resources out of Iowa and applied them to the latter states of Nevada and South Carolina, feeling that a top 2 finish in Iowa is already a lock and that he must move on to fixing his devastatingly low support among minorities in more diverse states. This pull of money has caused a 7 point plummet from just December 12th, making many who said that Buttigieg was using his Midwestern blue-collar campaigning style and his moderate appealing policies to run away with the state bite their tongues. 

Sanders meanwhile has kept his polling levels consistent, hoping that his hugely momentaneous 4th quarter fundraising total of $34.5 million will lead to a slight upward trickle in his polling to carry him to the finish in Iowa. 

Warren has been almost completely counted out with her campaign now shifting focus to her neighboring state of New Hampshire and the more progressive Super Tuesday states in the Northeast. Warren’s slide in the polls has seemed to slow down the machine-like nature of her campaign, with her continuously going off message in Iowa campaign stops, most recently discussing the issue of incarcerated transgender woman, “We have to stop putting trans women who are incarcerated into prisons with men where they are at risk. It is our responsibility.” the Senator recently said at a Marshalltown rally. This being something that plays well with the social activist faction of her supporters but not with the standard Iowa voter. According to a September Des Moines Register poll, 52% of Iowa Democrat voters say that their biggest concern is the expansion of Medicaid, climate change being the second most pressing issue coming in at 20% of the vote. 

The Iowa caucuses could prove to be monumental with a race for the nomination that has seen multiple momentum swings over the past year. Could the winner of Iowa see the same fate as a young Senator Barack Obama, who used his win to propel himself past the surefire nominee Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination? Or could we see the winner of Iowa face the same challenges as many before them, taking a win in a political landscape that tends to not represent the diversity or issues of the rest of America? The polls in Iowa close at 8 pm mountain time.