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.

Confirmed Cases: 57162

Reported Deaths: 1660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18197820
Ramsey7047261
Dakota4049103
Anoka3410113
Stearns284220
Washington193843
Nobles17496
Olmsted163523
Scott141017
Mower10842
Rice10028
Blue Earth8595
Wright8205
Carver7922
Clay75240
Kandiyohi6771
Sherburne6577
St. Louis45319
Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3551
Steele3331
Nicollet32013
Benton3103
Watonwan2990
Winona24916
Crow Wing21313
Martin2045
Le Sueur2021
Beltrami2000
Chisago1821
Otter Tail1793
Goodhue1778
Cottonwood1730
Becker1471
Pipestone1439
McLeod1400
Unassigned14040
Polk1353
Itasca13412
Douglas1320
Waseca1300
Pine1280
Carlton1260
Dodge1230
Murray1221
Isanti1100
Chippewa991
Brown852
Faribault840
Meeker832
Morrison821
Wabasha820
Sibley802
Rock750
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson700
Mille Lacs683
Cass622
Fillmore610
Renville605
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant511
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau460
Pope450
Houston390
Norman370
Hubbard320
Redwood320
Marshall290
Kanabec281
Wilkin283
Aitkin270
Mahnomen241
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake200
Lake180
Stevens160
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46100

Reported Deaths: 887
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9781203
Woodbury365651
Black Hawk302262
Linn214587
Johnson195915
Dallas179635
Buena Vista178612
Scott161512
Dubuque154929
Marshall139424
Pottawattamie122723
Story111714
Wapello85032
Muscatine83048
Webster7366
Crawford7213
Sioux6022
Cerro Gordo57917
Tama53929
Warren5341
Jasper45825
Wright4441
Plymouth4438
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3213
Washington28810
Hamilton2411
Boone2312
Franklin2256
Bremer1927
Clarke1883
Carroll1821
Emmet1812
Clay1711
Shelby1691
Hardin1660
Marion1550
Allamakee1504
Poweshiek1508
Benton1451
Jackson1411
Des Moines1392
Mahaska13617
Floyd1312
Guthrie1285
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
Butler1152
Buchanan1141
Henry1143
Pocahontas1141
Lyon1060
Madison1052
Clayton993
Cherokee981
Harrison980
Lee973
Taylor930
Humboldt921
Delaware911
Iowa901
Monona900
Winneshiek861
Mills830
Calhoun822
Fayette810
Sac810
Palo Alto800
Kossuth780
Osceola780
Jefferson770
Winnebago770
Mitchell760
Page760
Grundy741
Union721
Monroe677
Worth610
Chickasaw510
Davis501
Lucas504
Howard490
Cass481
Montgomery453
Appanoose433
Greene380
Fremont350
Van Buren331
Keokuk311
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur220
Adair210
Ringgold211
Wayne181
Adams160
Unassigned00
Rochester
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 58°
Mason City
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 57°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Austin
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Few Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Rain returns for Wednesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 8/5

Image

A closer look a the Graham Park testing site

Image

Temporary rental assistance available in Olmsted County

Image

Gold and Silver Prices Going Up

Image

Memorial Bicycle Ride

Image

MSHSL votes to postpone football and volleyball

Image

Rochester Public Schools survey parent opinions about options

Image

Waterloo hands Rochester 13th straight loss

Image

Mason City Fire Department burn training

Image

Coronavirus impact on the 2020 census

Community Events