Iowans react to loss of ‘First in Nation’ status for Democratic caucuses

Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 2:19 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa will no longer be the first nominating contest in the race for U.S. President, at least on the Democratic side.

Friday, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) agreed with President Biden to start its nominating process in South Carolina, with Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Michigan to follow.

Thomas Beaumont with the Associated Press wrote, “The caucuses and their outsize importance were largely an exercise in myth-making, that candidates could earn a path to the White House by meeting voters in person where they live, and earnest, civic-minded Midwesterners would brave the winter cold to stand sometimes for hours to discuss issues and literally stand for their candidate.”

KCRG-TV9 spoke to a random sample of Iowans Saturday afternoon to learn what they thought of the DNC abandonment of that myth.

“When I was younger, my family always used to be involved in caucuses. We used to love doing that kind of thing,” Scott Spink. “It was always kind of a symbol for Iowa to have the caucus be first here in the nation. So, it is a little sad to see it go.”

Spink added, “I can remember growing up we were known as the state of corn and caucuses.”

However, the tradition wasn’t meaningful to every Iowan.

When asked about the change for the caucuses, Davia Daniel said she didn’t know what they were. She added, “I think it has something to do with, like, the election.”

Brianna Jones admitted she didn’t know a lot about elections. “I’ve never really understood politics.” However, when asked if the change to Iowa’s status as first mattered, she said, “Yeah, ‘cause Iowa’s the best.”

University of Iowa students Jordan Tovar and Alex Kay both believed in the importance of being engaged in the political process, but as for the tradition of leading the nomination process: “I feel like being first isn’t always like, the best thing in the world. I mean, to me, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Tovar said.

The tradition was meaningful to Kevon Davis, one of the few people we stopped who already knew something about the change.

“I heard about there not being—or that Biden wanted South Carolina first or something like that now,” Davis said.

In April, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution that said states that went early should reflect the diversity of the party. Other concerns were competitiveness in contributing to a win in the general election and flaws in Iowa’s 2020 Democratic caucuses.

“I feel like what they were saying was, we’re not a good representation of the Democratic Party,” Davis said.

DNC leaders put forth a plan that allowed any U.S. state to apply to have one of the early nominating contests. Friday, a vote put South Carolina in the number one spot.

“If we don’t go first, I feel like we’re kind of— someone’s like, we’re making it the way we want it to be,” Davis said. “The rules of the games have been changed, and they don’t, you know, they really don’t need to be changed.”

Davis said he wished Iowa was still first in the nation for the Democratic party because he thinks Iowa is representative. “I don’t want the Democrats to lose faith in us. We’re still here. We believe in them,” Davis said.

He also thinks this change to the nomination calendar could change the election in a significant, unpredictable way.

“Iowa’s always gone first. So they should continue to go first. And that’s how we get the right result. You know what I mean? Like, I feel like if we don’t go first, then it throws off the end result,” Davis said.