2020 Iowa Caucuses

Healthcare commonly polls as one of voters' top issues and political candidates have been running campaigns on it for years. This cycle, Democrats are having a very different conversation about how to fundamentally transform the way Americans get care. On the tenth episode of Caucus Land we talk about where candidates stand on healthcare and what their plans could mean for patients and providers.


Thomas Hawk via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/14471621099/

Democratic presidential candidates debated for the fourth time Tuesday night, this time in suburban Columbus, Ohio. The debate comes at a time when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is ascending in Iowa and national polls. But for some Iowans, Warren’s new status as a frontrunner is refreshing some underlining concerns, particularly when it comes to healthcare policy.

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New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and regularly points out on the trail that he still lives in inner city Newark where he was once mayor. Sen. Booker talks about how that perspective would influence his presidency with IPR Caucus Land co-hosts Clay Masters and Kate Payne on his RV as he traveled between campaign stops in Boone and West Des Moines. He also discusses healthcare and gun policy.

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Travel back just two short months to a quintessential scene: it’s a farm so close to suburban sprawl you can practically see the retail developments from the gravel road. A large American flag hangs from the door of a big, white barn. Classic red tractors surround an area filled with folding chairs as music is piped in and volunteers in Amy for America T-shirts work the crowd with clipboards in hand.

This is LaVon and Craig Griffieon’s family farm in Ankeny and on this day it’s the site of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign event announcing her proposals for agriculture.


Iowa farmers are finding themselves caught between the White House and China in the president's disputes over trade and agriculture policy. Some say their support for him is wearing thin. On the ninth episode of Caucus Land, we'll look at how Democratic presidential candidates are trying to win them over.


John Pemble / IPR

Some of the presidential candidates who have been organizing for months in Iowa are starting to see their work pay off in the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Poll that came out Saturday. Especially Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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Clay Masters/IPR file

The Democratic National Committee gave conditional approval Friday to the Iowa Democratic Party’s plan to hold satellite caucuses in addition to traditional precinct caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

More than 11,000 tickets have been sold for the Polk County Democratic Party’s Steak Fry Saturday in Des Moines. Seventeen presidential candidates will take the stage and address the crowd. The county party rebooted the Steak Fry in 2017 which for years was hosted by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin who retired from office in 2014 and was replaced by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

Tuition at Iowa's public universities has been on a steady climb. Since 2009, the average cost of tuition and fees is up 40 percent. State funding has not recovered from cuts made during the Great Recession.
Rachel Radkowski / Flickr

At a welcome back event at Iowa State University in August, students filled the Great Hall in the Memorial Union. They walked past tables sponsored by campus clubs and local organizations offering every kind of free swag from can cozies to Frisbees to pizza. Many of the students were also aware of another offer that has been proposed by some Democratic candidates for president: free college tuition.

The cost of college and student debt are all-consuming for some families, and they're driving political conversations this cycle. On the eighth episode of Caucus Land, we'll break down what the candidates are promising and hear what higher ed experts make of their plans.


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Several states are reportedly ditching their Republican primary next year, paving the way for the president’s re-nomination. But Iowa Republicans will still caucus this February.

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Clay Masters/IPR file

Iowa Democrats will not have phone-based virtual caucuses in 2020 after national Democratic officials voted Friday to reject the state party’s plan for absentee caucus participation.

While most of the attention around the 2020 election is focused on Democrats, Republicans will hold a caucus too. President Donald Trump does face multiple primary challengers, but on the seventh episode of Caucus Land we'll explain why he likely has nothing to worry about in Iowa.


Scott Morgan for NPR

Joe Biden wants voters to look at the big picture.

His campaign is focused on a mission to "restore the soul of this nation."

That's also why the former vice president does not think anyone should get bogged down in the small details he mixes up on the campaign trail.

Katie Peikes / IPR

Retired Navy admiral and former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, was the only candidate to stop by a Sioux City Labor Day picnic. Sestak spoke with reporters about his support for organized labor and working families, and said unions represent the “last organized force for the working family,” but they’re shrinking.

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Clay Masters/IPR file

The Democratic National Committee is recommending that Iowa scrap its plans for telephone-based virtual caucuses next year, citing security concerns. The DNC had asked the state party to make Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses more accessible following the 2016 election. 

John Pemble/IPR

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race after failing to qualify for the third round of debates.

Gillibrand struggled to boost her polling and fundraising numbers despite her experience in the U.S. House and Senate.

Clay Masters/IPR file

The Iowa Democratic Party is still waiting for national party officials to approve its plan for launching virtual caucuses in late January 2020, a new option for voters who can’t, or don’t want to, caucus in person.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye / Indian Country Today

Fifteen presidential candidates expressed their support for organized labor at a union leader conference this past week in Altoona. Iowa Public Radio state government reporter Katrina Sostaric says the Democratic presidential hopefuls are trying to regain ground with union member voters after Hillary Clinton won union households in 2016 by the smallest margin in the past three decades.

John Pemble/IPR

Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton is calling off his campaign for the presidency. He’s the second major presidential candidate to drop out this week, after Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who bowed out Wednesday night.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

President Donald Trump expressed support for background checks in the days following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio and then appeared to walk back those statements this week. Did a meeting with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre change his mind? The President says no, clarifying that he still wants to "close loopholes," in the background check system.

The Iowa State Fair has become a must-stop for presidential campaigns ahead of the Caucuses. Candidates eat fried food on a stick and try to chat with voters through the swarm of cameras. We’ll take you through the crowds to see what the fair actually does for wannabe presidents.


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Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Fifteen Democrats running for president talked up their support for organized labor at an annual meeting of union leaders near Des Moines Wednesday.

John Pemble / IPR

The final presidential candidate to speak at the Iowa State Fair says it won’t be easy to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.  Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said Democrats will need a remarkably diverse coalition behind the eventual nominee.

John Pemble/IPR file

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has dropped out of the race for the White House. Hickenlooper had been struggling to break through in the crowded field of some two dozen contenders and was unlikely to qualify for the upcoming third round of debates. He ended his campaign amid calls for him to instead run for the U.S. Senate.

New York City mayer Bill de Blasio speaks at the Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble / IPR

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Democrats need to put forward a vision that voters can be passionate about in order to bring voters off of the sidelines in the 2020 presidential election. The candidate for the Democratic nomination spoke to voters at the Iowa State Fair Sunday and cautioned that taking a moderate approach against President Donald Trump could hurt turnout.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble / IPR

Democrat Bernie Sanders laid out many of his familiar policy proposals at the Iowa State Fair Sunday. But this time he said his ideas are no longer on the political fringes, as they may have seemed to many voters when he campaigned four years-ago.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet addresses a crowd at the Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble / IPR

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet says the nation’s politics were “immobilized” by partisanship before Donald Trump was elected president. The Democratic candidate for president told voters at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair that he would bridge the divide by taking steps to rein in the influence of money in American politics.

Bennet said he would look to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, reform the redistricting system to eliminate political gerrymandering and place a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists.

John Pemble / IPR

Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer of California has big plans for his first day as president.

“I will declare a state of emergency on day one,” he said, referring to the need to take on the effects of climate change. “We are faced with something that will affect the health and safety of every single American, and every single American in the future.”

John Pemble / IPR

One Republican joined more than a dozen Democratic presidential candidates in speaking at the Iowa State Fair this weekend.  Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld took his 20 minutes of time at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, and said he’s running for president because he’s troubled by Donald Trump’s presidency, and thinks Trump is a Republican in name only.

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