Caucus Land

Ford. Carter. Reagan. Bush. Clinton. Bush. Obama. Trump. Sound familiar? These presidents have taken office since Iowa became first in the presidential nominating process. Not all of these presidents came in first in the Iowa caucuses, but how they performed in Iowa in many cases helped propel them into the Oval Office. Tsongas. Keyes. Clark. Bradley. Babbitt. Hatch. Alexander. Any of those names ring a bell? They ran for president too, but they didn’t cut it in Iowa, and many of them dropped out in the wake of the caucuses.

The Iowa caucuses can make or break a candidate’s campaign. It’s an important responsibility, and Iowans take it seriously. From diners to coffee shops, living rooms to the state fair, candidates crisscross Iowa for a year trying to convince voters they should be the next President of the United States. Iowans get to bring their issues directly to the candidates; how presidential hopefuls respond to their hopes and fears could determine whether they get to New Hampshire, or they go home. The candidates listen and respond. Then, Iowans caucus – and what an experience it is!

Since the first candidate dropped into Iowa in January, Iowa Public Radio reporters have been gathering information, stories and context, and we’re ready to share our knowledge and insights with you. Join IPR hosts Clay Masters and Kate Payne to get a view into Iowa – into Caucus Land – and learn about the importance of the Iowa Caucuses, how they define a candidate’s campaign in other states and how Iowans shape the national political conversation.

So who will it be? Biden? Booker? Buttigieg? Gabbard? Gillibrand? Harris? Klobuchar? O’Rourke? Sanders? Warren? Someone else? 2020 starts here – whether you live in Iowa or want an insiders’ view into the candidates soon headed your way, subscribe to Caucus Land today!

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Caucus Land is sponsored by Cornell College and Gravitate Coworking.

John Pemble / IPR

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and regularly points 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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Some two dozen presidential candidates have been campaigning in Iowa since way before much of the rest of the country tuned in to the race. Many have been coming here for months, some for years. On the fifth episode of Caucus Land, we'll introduce them to you.


The major parties in Iowa generally agree that the caucuses should remain first in the nation and they don't agree on much else. On the fourth episode of Caucus Land, we ask the state's party leaders how they can put aside their differences to keep Iowa first and what the 2018 midterms say about 2020.


During the 2016 presidential election, two seemingly impossible candidates took both major parties by storm, and American politics hasn't been the same. On the third episode of Caucus Land, Iowa gives Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump a stage and a microphone.    

The Iowa caucuses are not known to be particularly inclusive or diverse. But in the 2008 cycle, the state became the jumping off point for a candidate who would become the nation’s first black president. On the second episode of Caucus Land, Barack Obama’s road to the White House.


Presidential candidates are seemingly everywhere in Iowa: showing up at picnics, union halls and coffee shops, even running in to each other at the farmer's market. Skipping out on the state that's the first to weigh in on the presidential primary process has become politically unthinkable. But that wasn't always the case. In the first episode of Caucus Land, we're going back to the 1960s to see how it all got started.

Welcome to Caucus Land! As the first in the nation voting state, Iowa is where all presidential candidates begin - and many end - their campaign to the White House. Join IPR reporters Clay Masters and Kate Payne as they delve into Iowa's role in shaping the nominating field - from Iowa's caucus history to the candidates, the moments and people that shape the 2020 presidential cycle.