Iowa democrats look ahead to 2020

'We've got to go for the greater good of winning this election, no matter what.'

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 7:20 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The romance of Barack Obama's surprise victory in Iowa hangs like a championship banner in the minds of Democrats in the state more than a decade after they set him on the road to being the nation's first African- American president.

But as they begin to think about Iowa's 2020 presidential caucuses — in which as many as two dozen Democratic candidates may seek their support — the wistfulness is fading fast. The same early Obama supporters who admit to being swept off their feet by the then-Illinois senator are now looking steely-eyed for someone who can simply seize the presidency from Donald Trump.

"We've got to go for the greater good of winning this election, no matter what," said Nancy Bobo, an early Iowa Obama backer who attended a 10-year commemoration of the 2008 campaign at a Des Moines bar this year. "We need to learn to compromise in a way that moves us ahead, and not keep looking back."

More than a year away, the 2020 caucuses are already shaping up for many of Obama's earliest supporters to be more about their heads than their hearts.

"The innocence in us wants to fall in love," said Niki Neems, an Iowa City Democratic activist who pledged herself to Obama before he even announced his candidacy. "But whoever we all think stands the best chance, then let's get out there and start door-knocking. So, for me, it's OK to just fall in like."

The shift among Obama's devout supporters reflects the baggage many of them are carrying into the next caucus campaign. For one, Iowa Democrats uniformly criticize Trump as uniquely harmful to U.S. institutions and the nation's international standing. But there's also a sense that Hillary Clinton's doomed bid for the presidency began in Iowa, where Democrats didn't warm to her in the same way they did to Obama.

Neems and others said that lack of an emotional connection contributed to Clinton only narrowly beating Bernie Sanders in Iowa in 2016, foreshadowing the trouble she'd face in taking on Trump.

Now, some Democrats say they want to pay less attention to their feelings and focus more on a candidate with a serious plan to reverse Trump's actions.

"People can connect with someone as long as they have a vision, have big ideas, and can express them," said Tricia Zebrowski, a retired University of Iowa professor who was among the first to pledge her support for Obama. "That's the kind of person who can wrest the presidency from Trump."

In fact, she speaks highly of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, hardly a dynamic speaker on par with Obama. But Zebrowski said Klobuchar has impressed her as embodying common sense and projecting little of the ego that Trump exudes.

More than a dozen Democrats weighing 2020 presidential campaigns have already begun testing their ability to connect with Iowans. Notably, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker paced the stage at an Iowa Democratic Party fall banquet, repeatedly quoting Martin Luther King in a sermon-like speech to 1,200 of the state's most influential party activists, officials and donors in October.

There's a recognition among many of Obama's early supporters that his rise in Iowa was a unique moment in American politics, attributable in part to his own personal strengths at retail politics, his soaring oratory and his familiarity with street-level political organizing, which is key to delivering support for the caucuses.

The combination elevated the African American in the vastly white state over not just the establishment favorite, Clinton, but also former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who had spent nearly six years building goodwill, especially among rural Iowa Democrats.

Obama seemed right for the times, offering hope first during the divisive Iraq war and then a devastating financial collapse. In 2020, Democrats will look to someone matched specifically to contrast with Trump, said Dale Todd, one of Obama's earliest activists in the Cedar Rapids area.

"If you try to replicate it, it ends up being false," said Todd, who also attended the commemoration this year. "The intangible was Obama."

And while they are older and wiser, some of Obama's first devotees say change, as it was in 2008, will again be the winning message.

"We'd be kidding ourselves if we kept looking for Obama in every single presidential hopeful," said Deidre DeJear, Iowa Democrats' 2018 candidate for Iowa secretary of state who worked on Obama's 2008 campaign as a college student. "But people are ready for change. They don't know what change looks like. But when it shows up, they know what it feels like."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 490011

Reported Deaths: 6618
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1016821593
Ramsey43388811
Dakota36714394
Anoka33545392
Washington22247262
Stearns18847202
St. Louis14915265
Scott13445107
Wright12635116
Olmsted1187890
Sherburne879474
Carver790941
Clay696288
Rice678691
Blue Earth604435
Kandiyohi582274
Crow Wing523682
Chisago502945
Otter Tail487171
Benton451890
Winona419749
Mower411931
Douglas395068
Goodhue390169
Nobles387347
Polk345363
McLeod341950
Beltrami339151
Morrison328147
Itasca315346
Becker315143
Lyon314045
Isanti310056
Steele304311
Carlton300649
Freeborn287124
Pine283616
Nicollet263341
Todd250330
Brown249137
Le Sueur238620
Mille Lacs230047
Cass221424
Waseca211217
Meeker208534
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15464
Renville152940
Redwood147127
Fillmore14029
Pennington139816
Chippewa137035
Cottonwood136120
Wadena131520
Faribault125017
Aitkin119233
Sibley118310
Watonwan11838
Rock116314
Kanabec109120
Pipestone101924
Yellow Medicine97817
Murray9548
Jackson94710
Swift87818
Pope8185
Marshall78715
Stevens7478
Lake74318
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68816
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4808
Unassigned45368
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41121
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2231
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337836

Reported Deaths: 5500
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52116562
Linn19519317
Scott17180213
Black Hawk14973294
Woodbury13858214
Johnson1317875
Dubuque12452196
Dallas1023593
Pottawattamie9899146
Story965445
Warren515176
Clinton502884
Cerro Gordo501483
Webster495888
Sioux480469
Marshall465473
Des Moines428661
Muscatine426493
Buena Vista413337
Wapello4059110
Jasper388167
Plymouth369178
Lee354653
Marion341772
Jones285355
Henry279837
Bremer270655
Carroll266848
Crawford253435
Boone244830
Benton241554
Washington239247
Mahaska215846
Jackson210339
Dickinson204340
Tama203165
Kossuth198655
Delaware186340
Clay184525
Winneshiek183729
Fayette179535
Page178119
Buchanan178029
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172923
Hardin170339
Harrison167870
Clayton160154
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146336
Lyon145741
Allamakee144948
Madison143318
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132530
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129711
Cass129751
Jefferson128534
Appanoose123447
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115440
Humboldt113925
Franklin109719
Guthrie109728
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9790
Montgomery97036
Clarke95220
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida82132
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72321
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53818
Ringgold50720
Audubon4769
Wayne47521
Adams3194
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