West Des Moines, Nov. 2019.

Democracy is Alive and Well…and living in Iowa

VII Photo Agency
Feb 1 · 4 min read

A photo essay by Danny Wilcox Frazier/ VII

On February 3, Iowans once again become the first in the nation to cast their votes in the presidential primaries. The state’s legendary caucuses are deemed so important in sorting out frontrunners that candidates spend months in the state — often becoming so ubiquitous and meeting citizens in such small groups that Iowans joke that by the time the caucus rolls around, they expect to see candidates bagging their groceries or delivering their mail. Every four years, party activists and political pundits also question the disproportionate influence that Iowa voters have on the election process — and suggest a revised primary season, giving other states the chance to be first. VII photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier, a native Iowan, has photographed many seasons of election cycles, logging thousands of miles crisscrossing the state as he covers the candidates (and the flock of reporters who follows them). In this essay, he looks back at the 2019 campaign year in Iowa — and the field of candidates which numbered 28 at the beginning of the year and is now down to 12 as Iowans prepare to caucus.

Highway 6, south towards Muscatine, March 2019.
Elizabeth Warren, (top) Cedar Rapids, Nov. 2019; (bottom left) University of Iowa Campus, Iowa City, Dec. 2019; (bottom right) Des Moines, Nov. 2019.
Warren event in Cedar Rapids in Nov. 2019.
Kamala Harris, (top) posters in West Liberty, Iowa, shot in Oct. 2019; (bottom right and left) Harris speaking, Muscatine, Nov. 2019.
Lacona, Nov. 2019.
Joe Biden, (top) Des Moines, Nov. 2019.; (bottom) Lacona, Nov. 2019.
Lacona, Nov. 2019.
Bernie Sanders, (top) Grinnell, Dec. 2019; (bottom left and right) Des Moines, Dec. 2019.
Des Moines, Dec. 2019.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Denison, Nov. 2019.
Waterloo, March 2019.
Beto O’Rourke, (top) Muscatine, March 2019; (bottom left) Independence, July 2019; (bottom right) Washington, March 2019.
Independence, July 2019.
Amy Klobuchar, Hampton, Nov. 2019.
West Liberty, Oct. 2019.
Cory Booker, Cedar Rapids, June 2019.
Elizabeth Warren, Iowa City, Dec. 2019.

About “America, Again”

Exactly one year before voters go to the polls on November 3, 2020 — and three months before Iowans gather for their caucuses — we launched the first chapter of VII’s year-long collective election coverage, “America, Again.”

This project emerged among a few of the VII photographers with the intention of focusing attention on the issues that will dominate the U.S. election. The VII Foundation and VII Academy have stepped in to support the project in recognition of the importance of critical and independent storytelling in civic discourse. We will produce stories on material issues that people worldwide are wrangling with, not only Americans. We’ll cover issues that are used to divide us and that allow populist politicians to undermine the values that are foundational to our societies.

See more stories from the project here:


Photo editing by SARAH LEEN, former Director of Photography National Geographic Partners and founder of the Visual Thinking Collective for independent women editors, teachers, and curators.

Layout by GIANA CHOROSZEWSKI, VII Operations Director.

VII Photo Agency

Written by

VII is a collective of 29 visual storytellers dedicated to reporting on issues around the world.

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