Sorry, no prez candidate visits to my end of Iowa lately, seems the candidates are staying close to the big airports in eastern Iowa. Bernie graced us with a visit to Council Bluffs, normally within day trip range for me, but the weekly blizzard killed that plan. So time to write of the action downballot here in the rural midwest.
Saturate a state of but 3 million souls with near two dozen presidential campaigns and… The “caucus effect” is unavoidable. Then there’s the scale of it- Back in ’96 Republican candidate Steve Forbes was rightly criticized for spending more in Iowa than all his competitors combined, a whole whopping 5 million dollars! Heck, they wasted so much money they even fed this died in the wool democrat at a decent Des Moines hotel while I taped Steve explaining how he was going to destroy social security. That was Steve’s downfall, he didn’t know how to lie like the rest of the republicans.
Steve was a piker… By 2004 Dr. Howard Dean was so successful at fundraising that his campaign had rented every available rental car in Iowa and were draining the fleet of the surrounding states. On the weekends before the caucus motel rooms were in such short supply that they rented girl scout camps to house volunteers.
’08 brought us an even more expensive battle between the best campaigns of the 20th and 21st centuries with Hillary taking an early lead before falling to Obama and Edwards. Hillary hired semis to carry her name in eight foot tall letters and had classic John Deere tractors for backdops. Obama had an army of staffers and money to burn, I pitched a stock car sponsorship and an ex-autohauler rig for “whistle stop” campaigning to them and probably was shot down because my proposals were too cheap. Campaigns were spending more than Steve Forbe’s 5 million in just one weekend and over a hundred million $$$ on the near year long Iowa caucus campaign alone. ’16 upped the ante again, with Hillary outspending and barely beating Bernie.
So here were not even in 2020 yet and we’ve got twenty odd candidates, two of whom have raised Steve Forbe’s “excessive” five million $$$ in just a day and a bunch more who can haul in enough dollars per day to match a busy Costco. Every democratic county unit with half a brain is holding frequent fundraisers to make the campaigns rain on their parade units and every other campaign activity, and those dollars will trickle down to support downballot democratic candidates. Heck, they’ve even got a dem campaign staffer in long shot Iowa CD4 already, while the media is increasingly saturated with democratic policy pitches as multiple democratic candidates blow their millions in the media markets. In short, Iowa will be saturated with democratic pitches for darn near two years before the 2020 elections.
Now I’ve heard some so called “progressives” label Iowa as too white, etc. to hold an influential early caucus and suggest giving that honor to more diverse California, etc.. Sounds great, but why waste a billion dollars in campaigning in a California that will vote blue for free. The billion dollars spent on campaigning in Iowa will help swing Iowa blue, and all those media buys in Iowa’s eight or so media markets will overflow into neighboring swing states and help democrats there too. Same for swing states New Hampshire, Nevada, and even long shot South Carolina.