2020 Iowa Caucuses

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With 2020 comes a presidential election in November and the nominating process for the Democrats starts in just a little over a month in Iowa. Democratic candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held a New Year’s Eve rally Tuesday night in downtown Des Moines.

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Iowa caucusgoers who update their party registration by December 31st will have an easier check-in process on caucus night. Both major parties are encouraging caucusgoers to make sure their information is current to avoid any further delays at their caucus locations.

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South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg finds himself polling in Iowa in the top tier among U.S. senators and a former vice president. The soon-to-be former mayor is a Rhodes Scholar and a military veteran, among other things. Buttigieg talks about foreign policy and healthcare with IPR Caucus Land co-hosts Clay Masters and Kate Payne in late December.

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Back in September, more than 1,000 people packed Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium in Cedar Rapids to hear Democratic presidential candidates in the first LGBTQ forum of the 2020 race. 

Ten candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar joined the event. Each took the stage to share how they plan to address the concerns of LGBTQ voters.

When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he defined marriage as “between a man and a woman." A decade later, that position would be almost unimaginable in this cycle’s Democratic presidential race. On the sixteenth episode of Caucus Land, we’ll talk about how the candidates are approaching LGBTQ policy. Plus, we’ll wade into the debate over whether Iowa is diverse enough to be first in the nation.

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The Iowa Democratic Party released a list of 99 satellite caucus locations Wednesday, paving the way for Iowans to participate in the state’s first in the nation caucuses in such faraway locations as Scotland and France. The expansion of sites inside and outside of Iowa is an unprecedented move as the state party works to make its notoriously complicated process more accessible.

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Entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang is touting his status as the only person of color to qualify for the upcoming Democratic debate. Seven leading candidates will take to the stage in Los Angeles this Thursday for the sixth televised debate

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Democrats running for president in Iowa are working to get teachers in their corners on caucus night. Teachers are a coveted voting bloc because they show up in numbers and are well-organized.

Iowa has around 40,000 elementary, middle and high school teachers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mack Shelley, a political science professor at Iowa State University, said teachers’ unions across the country have been flexing their political strength.

Photo Courtesry of Sehba Faheem

Generation Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, and they’re poised to be the most educated generation too.  In 2020, Gen Zers, many of whom are in their early 20s and late teens will also become the newest generation to head out on Caucus Day with the hopes of influencing the selection of the next Democratic nominee for president.

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

At a marathoner's pace, Pete Buttigieg has pulled ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination, and he's now a top contender. Being at the top has certainly caught the attention of many Iowans planning to caucus, both in gaining new supporters and drawing harsh criticisms about his past at the same time.

Former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro speaks at a town hall questioning Iowa and New Hampshire's place as the first states in the presidential nomination process.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro said that Iowa’s lack of diversity makes it harder for candidates of color to break through the presidential field and that a state with more black and Latino voters would better represent the party.

John Minchillo / AP Photo

With California Sen. Kamala Harris out of the race, the next Democratic primary debate stage is set to feature the whitest lineup in the 2020 race yet, despite the historic racial and ethnic diversity represented in the current presidential candidate pool. 

At the time Harris announced plans to suspend her campaign, the debate stage was poised to feature an all-white slate of candidates. Businessman Andrew Yang, who is Asian American, has since qualified for the December 19th debate, cohosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico.

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Many of the Democratic presidential candidates were in Iowa over the weekend. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders ended a four-day swing through the state with a town hall in Indianola Sunday. Sanders said his Medicare For All proposal will be better for middle class Americans than his Democratic competitors.

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Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is leaning on his foreign policy experience in his pitch to likely Iowa caucusgoers. This week he won the endorsement of former Secretary of State John Kerry, who joined him in Iowa to magnify that message.

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It’s now looking likely the five Democratic U.S. senators running for president will be tied up in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in January and they’ll be having to split their time between Washington and Iowa.

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

The prospect of an all-white Democratic presidential debate later this month is concerning for some candidates and party activists. Following California Sen. Kamala Harris’ exit from the race, still other critics have larger issues with the overall nomination process.

One of the surest ways to fire up Iowa Democrats at a campaign event? Bring up U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. On the fifteenth episode of Caucus Land, we’ll hear how that outrage over K-12 policy is spilling over into presidential candidates’ plans. Plus, a conversation with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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California Sen. Kamala Harris’ exit from the presidential contest Tuesday is a loss for some Iowa Democrats who hope to see more diversity in the field. And for some, her departure from the race is also renewing larger debates about the nomination process.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been doing relatively well in Iowa polls and has been talking about her Medicare for All proposal. She says she would phase it in during her first three years as president. Sen. Warren talks about insulating her healthcare plan from partisan whims of Congress, and the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, with IPR Caucus Land co-hosts Clay Masters and Kate Payne in early December.

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Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is continuing to defend her phased-in Medicare For All plan on the campaign trail. After surging to the front of the crowded presidential field earlier this fall, Warren has been slipping in national and early state polls in recent weeks, as she’s faced increased scrutiny for her healthcare plan and her status as a frontrunner.

John Pemble / IPR File


With Caucus Day less than three months away, River to River has kicked off a series of interviews with 2020 presidential candidates. During this segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with California Senator Kamala Harris. Harris discusses her plans to provide a tax credit of up to $6,000 annually for families with incomes at or below $100,000, her efforts to expand mental healthcare, her goal to increase wages for Iowa teachers, and her plans for Thanksgiving in Des Moines.

Clay Masters / IPR

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bloomberg announced on Sunday he was entering the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field and buying more than $30 million in TV ads. Bloomberg has said Sen. Warren’s wealth tax of 2 percent on fortunes over $50 million could ruin the economy.

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Two-term Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president on Saturday. Vilsack, who served as President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, has been very active in advising other presidential campaigns this cycle.

The border fence between El Paso and Juarez.
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Immigrants in Iowa continue to play a greater role in the state’s economy. In some of these immigrant communities, there’s increased fear because of tighter enforcement of immigration laws under President Donald Trump. Democratic presidential candidates are running against his messages. They’re also proposing solutions to a system many people believe is broken.  

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Likely Democratic caucusgoers say climate change is increasingly among their top issues. In response, presidential candidates are rolling out ambitious policy goals to drastically cut emissions and retool the economy. But there are real questions about if the country can transition as quickly as Democrats are proposing.

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Former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Deval Patrick says he will be competing in the Iowa caucuses. His late entrance to the race puts him at a distinct disadvantage in the state, where many of his competitors have been building grassroots organizations for months, and some of them for years.

The scientific community says the world must zero out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In response, Democratic presidential candidates are rolling out aggressive climate plans. On the thirteenth episode of Caucus Land, we'll talk about what it would take to meet those goals. And later, a conversation with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Ben Kieffer / IPR

Late last month, freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez officially endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president. In his latest swing through Iowa, Ocasio-Cortez joined Sanders on the campaign trail, marking her first trip to the state. 

How much does her endorsement mean to likely caucusgoers in Iowa? 

Kate Payne / IPR

New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallied voters in Iowa this weekend with Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, hoping to win over supporters for their Green New Deal.

Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina speaks to Iowa Republicans at the 2019 Lincoln Reagan Dinner in downtown Des Moines.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, was in Des Moines Friday night to push conservatives in Iowa to get behind President Donald Trump’s reelection.