The national party members who established the presidential nomination calendar for Iowa seem to want to make changes in the future two years after the disastrous collapse of the Iowa Democratic caucuses. They cite long-standing criticisms of the caucuses.
A smartphone app that was supposed to simplify the process of the Democrats’ presidential election failed on February 3, 2020. No winner was announced. In the wake of the incident, the call for Iowa caucuses not to be first-in-the nation grew stronger.
Caucuses are very different to primary elections. They are run by the state party and participants meet at a specific time in church basements or high schools gyms on a cold winter night. Democrats require that caucus-goers move about the room in order to support their candidate.
John Deeth, who is on the executive board of the Johnson County Democrats, Iowa’s most reliably Democratic county, won’t deny that Iowa should be removed from the calendar. But he has done his part in supporting the caucuses.
Deeth stated that the first thing we tell voters is to stand in line for 45 mins, then move on to the corner and wait for three hours before you can vote. “They leave there with a terrible, terribly negative impression about the local party.”
Caucuses have been criticized for being cumbersome, difficult to organize and time-consuming. Other states have also stopped hosting caucuses in recent years. Iowa’s app disaster only made it more urgent to make changes.
During a weekend-long virtual meeting of officials from the Democratic National Committee, party members discussed the possibility of changing the calendar.
“Any hint or exclusion, intentional or accidental, must be looked at and reexamined,” stated Yvette Lewis, a member of DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee.
Lewis stated that the trajectory of 2020’s primary race in South Carolina changed when the voters of color won a victory for Joe Biden. After finishing fourth and fifth in New Hampshire and Iowa, which are less diverse states, that was when he won the victory.
Iowa has Democrats that defend the caucuses. Deidre DeJear is running for governor in Iowa this year. She says Iowans are able to vet candidates on key issues.
She claimed that she has knocked on doors in order to run campaigns in other states. “But, I knock on the door and I say, “Hey, are you going to attend this event tonight?” They replied, “Oh, I don’t do politics,” she added.
DeJear was the chair of the Iowa state campaign committee for now-Vice President Harris’s unsuccessful presidential bid. She disbanded her office in 2019. DeJear believes that the Iowa caucuses should remain first on Democrats’ nominating calendar.
“Does the caucus process need to be improved? DeJear stated that it was absolutely. “Yes,” DeJear said. We have to fix that.
Ross Wilburn, Iowa Democratic Party Chair, says that he still has work to do to educate the DNC following the meeting last weekend. Wilburn, who is also the first Black state party chair, is also an Ames state lawmaker. He said that the party cannot just move its caucuses due to a state law.
Wilburn stated that they made it appear like there was a choice. It’s not a choice, it’s an Iowa Code here.
Iowa’s state government is controlled by Republicans who are not as interested in changing their calendars.
Wilburn stated that it is still being discussed and that no decision has been taken.
Wilburn stated, “There’s an expression: It’s no sprint, it is a marathon.” “Well, it could be a 10k, because we are in 2022 and they have started their conversations.”
National Democrats will need to decide how much of a debate they want over the calendar, despite President Biden’s declining approval ratings and his party struggling to hold onto thin majorities in Congress this Midterm.