Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Research Trail ’16

This post is not nearly as epic as the title might suggest, I just really wanted to use it at some point. Have to pay homage to Hunter S.

This past weekend I was able to travel to the Iowa caucuses as part of the University of Missouri’s Political Communication Institute’s research team. We went to several rallies for different candidates for both parties and were able to witness the caucus process firsthand while at Iowa State University. Even though I saw it with my own eyes, I still do not fully understand the caucusing process. However, I am now able to say I’ve been to that great state, and I’m also able to say I have now seen the Clintons, Donald Trump, and Rand Paul in person.

One thing that stands out in my mind from visiting Iowa is how low-key the events seem to be. I suppose on television they’ll only show the rallies that have thousands of people, but I was struck at how local and natural the Iowa events are. Clinton was at a high school gymnasium, Trump a hotel banquet room, Paul a college auditorium. When people ask “should Iowa remain so important?” I would say yes, because of how it makes the candidates spend so much time doing the classic retail politicking. Sure this can happen in any state and I’m sure it does happen a lot on the presidential campaign trail, but this was the first time I’d seen it in person and I was completely infatuated with the process. Long live the Iowa caucuses.


Here are some pictures (all from my iPhone):