DES MOINES, Iowa — For all its quaintness and fun, the Iowa State Fair does a pretty good job of approximating politics at the national level, be it questions about electability and charisma or trade and agricultural policy.
“The debate within the party that is happening right now, is happening right in front of me at the Iowa State Fair between these two people,” CQ Roll Call senior politics writer Bridget Bowman says, recounting a conversation between a couple after hearing South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox on Aug. 13. The couple, both of whom told Bridget they were impressed with Buttigieg, were torn between what was more important for a Democratic candidate: offering bold ideas or being more likely to beat President Donald Trump.
Here at Political Theater, we’ve been podcasting from the Iowa State Fair, and have also seen our colleagues traverse the state to get a sense of what voters care about and what candidates for office — whether for president, Senate or House — say they are going to do about it.
For this episode, Bridget tells us what she learned while putting all those miles on the rental car, and then we discuss with our colleagues Thomas McKinless and Micaela Rodríguez our hits and misses from our time here in the Iowa bureau. What happened? What was a surprise? How about a letdown? We hope you have enjoyed our podcasts from Iowa. We certainly enjoyed doing them.
- Democrats go on defense in crucial heartland House race in Iowa
- The Iowa State Fair: Why do you have to come here to be president?
- The Iowa State Fair: A day in the deep-fried life
- Former Iowa governor: Take rural voters seriously
- ‘Embrace it and take it all in’: Former Rep. David Young on the Iowa State Fair
- Watch: Steve King calls principles ‘timeless’
- New calls for Rep. Steve King to resign in wake of graphic comment about rape and incest
- Tom Harkin makes rare appearance with 2020 contender
- Candidates, calories and cows: What really happens at the Iowa State Fair
- Photos from the Iowa Wing Ding
- Loebsack backed Obama over Clinton in 2007, but unsure about 2020 field
- With Iowa State Fair ahead, 2020 Democrats pitch to rural America
- The Iowa State Fair: Our proactive primer on politics, pork and public officials