10 Reasons to #KeepIowaFirst for the Caucuses
Iowa has a rich tradition of hosting the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses. Almost every Iowan, regardless of which side they typically vote for, probably has a favorite Caucus memory –– such as meeting a candidate before they became President, attending a victory party, or even finding themselves on the national news. Here in Greater Des Moines (DSM) and Iowa, we are well-positioned to vet the candidates to begin one of the most important processes in our country’s election system.
As we look forward to the next Iowa Caucuses, here are 10 reasons to #KeepIowaFirst.
10. Retail Politics Work in Iowa
In Iowa, candidates have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with voters. This gives Iowans the chance to ask important questions to vet the candidates, and helps candidates better form their platforms based on feedback they are hearing from engaged voters.
9. Urban, Rural, Suburban – We’ve Got it All in One Day
Where else can you meet with voters in an iconic small-town diner in the morning, a major metropolitan restaurant in the evening, and make multiple other stops during the day? Iowa provides a unique landscape which allows candidates to make several stops in towns and cities of all sizes during a single day.
8. Our Residents are Engaged
Iowans are active participants in the Caucus process. Democratic turnout and participation is higher in Iowa than in other early states. Nealy 30% of Iowa Democrats participated in the 2020 Iowa Caucus, according to the Iowa Democratic Party. Other early primary states have half of the turnout. Iowa residents show up to candidate events and forums and ask good questions.
7. You’re Money Goes Further Here
In addition to the prevalence of retail politics, candidates can also get their message out to the masses more easily in Iowa. Advertising rates in the DSM region are significantly lower than other major markets including Minneapolis and Detroit.
6. We Roll Out the Red Carpet for the Media
The Iowa Caucus Consortium hosted more than 2,000 local, national and international media members at its Media Filing Center at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center during the most recent Iowa Caucuses in 2020. Caucus Consortium Partners deliver t-shirts, gift bags and whatever else media members need while they are reporting throughout the region, and provide a world-class space in which to work on deadline during Caucus night. The Iowa Caucus Consortium is led by Catch Des Moines and the Greater Des Moines Partnership with additional partners including America's Cultivation Corridor, Drake University, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and Technology Association of Iowa as well as close collaboration with the Iowa Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Iowa.
5. We Know How to Throw a Good Party
Speaking of the Iowa Caucus Consortium, each cycle they host a Raucous Before the Caucus party for visiting media members. At the party, members of the media have the opportunity to enjoy local food, drinks, live music and great company. It has become a must-attend party for many traveling media members.
4. You Will Satisfy Your Taste Buds Here
DSM is home to James Beard-nominated chefs and restaurants that have been featured on “The Food Network” and “The Travel Channel.” Each Caucus cycle, stories emerge of visiting campaigns and media members hitting up their old favorites and discovering new places to satisfy their taste buds. And where else besides the Iowa State Fair can you find quite this assortment of fried foods on a stick?
3. Iowa Supports Diverse Candidates
President Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses as an up-and-coming candidate, and then went on to win Iowa in the general election both times he was elected. Additionally, Democrats Jesse Jackson and Kamala Harris and Republicans Alan Keyes and Herman Cain had greater support in Iowa than they did initially in national polls. Iowa supported the first woman to win a major party nomination in 2016 and a member of the LGBTQ+ community in 2020.
2. DSM is Growing in Population and Diversity
As a major metropolitan region and a front door to the state, DSM has established itself as a growing, diverse community. The population of DSM has grown 18.6% from 2010 – 2021, outpacing the national average and Midwest peers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During the 2010s, DSM increased its foreign-born population by nearly 50% — the second-highest rate in the nation, according to Heartland Forward. Our minority population has grown 94% during that time frame, nearly double the national average, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
And the #1 Reason to #KeepIowaFirst is (*drumroll*) ...
1. Two Parties are Better Than One
The Republican National Committee has already made the decision to make Iowa first in the nation. The Democratic National Committee is still considering its first caucus or primary location. We believe it will be better for both parties to be together to give voters a chance to hear different ideas from all candidates running on both sides. The Republican Party of Iowa and Iowa Democratic Party are working together to ensure Iowa is first for each party, further demonstrating the power of bipartisanship.
Join us in letting the world know the importance of keeping Iowa first. We encourage you to share this blog post on social media and use the hashtag #KeepIowaFirst.
Additionally, we have worked with our friends at Raygun to come up with some t-shirt ideas to support the cause. Let us know which one is your favorite.
Together, we can ensure that Iowa is positioned as first in the nation and uphold our tradition of hosting a world-class Iowa Caucus experience.
Jay Byers is the CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, on the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Executive Board, Board of Directors and Community Growth Education Foundation, the General Council of the World Chambers Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.