Iowa: The road to 2020 starts here for Democratic presidential hopefuls

In the snowy straights of Iowa, full of silos and big skies, voters are about to show us the very best in their nation’s political system.

The Hawkeye State takes its ‘first in the nation’ status very seriously. Voters often attend multiple events – listening to the options (and this year they’ve got a lot), before caucusing with their neighbours.

This race is all about the Democrats, but we started our journey at a Trump rally in Des Moines. It was yet another reminder of how loyal his supporters are and how clear his messaging is. “Build that wall, impeachment is a sham, jobs, jobs, jobs” – ready made applause lines. Everyone feels they know what Trump’s about, whether they love or loathe him.

But with Democrats it’s different. The party has been going through an identity crisis that has created a very long line of candidates. On one hand, they are fighting for the soul and future of the party: will it be progressive or centrist, diverse or resist change? On the other, they know they need to find and back whoever has the best chance of beating Donald Trump. It won’t be easy and after three days, more than 500 miles and six rallies, they are a long way from answering those questions.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on February 01, 2020 in Waterloo, Iowa
Image:Does Joe Biden, 77, have the energy to match Donald Trump?

We started our journey in Clinton, Iowa – fitting for a Joe Biden event, a man closely allied with the establishment end of the Democratic Party. The former vice president is still leading the polls narrowly, but it’s not a result of dynamic campaigning. His crowds have been relatively small. And when we walk inside, it’s clear they’re a little sleepy and greying too.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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