The Iowa State Fair: Our hits, misses and lessons learned

Political Theater, Episode 88

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, says a quick hello to her son, Gunnar, as he works at a corn dog booth at the Iowa State Fair on Monday August 12, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

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. 

Show Notes:

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