We began our day by driving to the Iowa State University campus where we met with political science professors Mack Shelley, Stephen Schmidt, and Dianne Bystrom. During our conversations with these knowledgeable individuals, we discussed the Iowa caucus and the state’s political culture in the context of the upcoming 2016 election. We specifically focused on the unique circumstances which surround this election and the potential effect those circumstances could have on the outcome of the election.
This year’s caucus is going to be held on February 1st, significantly later than usual. The later caucus means that college students will be back on Iowa college campuses, making them easier to mobilize for volunteer efforts and on caucus night. Having an increased number of younger citizens partaking in the caucus could benefit candidates like Bernie Sanders in a way which the polls do not currently account for.
Dianne Bystrom, a leading expert on women in U.S. politics and director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University also provided insight into the unique role which women are playing in this election cycle. It is only recently that women have been able to maintain campaigns for a duration long enough to conduct academic research on them. This election represents the first time both major political parties have a female presidential candidate. Though sexism remains a prominent issue within the field of politics, the media coverage of women in this election has seen some improvement over previous elections, which is promising.
Following our visit to ISU, we attended a Ben Carson campaign event at a local coffee shop. The venue filled up quickly, as they tend to here in Iowa, but Dr.Carson was kind enough to give a second speech to those who were willing to wait. Generally, we were impressed with his presentation and appreciated his frank explanation of why he feels you do not need to be a career politician to be qualified to be elected president.
Finally, we ended our evening by attending a wonderful Wednesday night church service at the local branch church in Des Moines. We were grateful to conclude the day surrounded by loving community members sharing the joy and inspiration which healing brings to our lives on a daily basis.