Iowa Caucus: Insider Tips from LS2group

LS2group team members show their support.

Every four years, a spotlight shines a little brighter on the state of Iowa. We may be known for insurance, the Butter Cow, and an up-and-coming metro, but it’s politics that draw the most national coverage.

Not only are politics in full-force in Iowa, they are a constant topic of conversation in the LS2group office. Working in a bi-partisan firm, people are regularly running from one campaign event to the next in hopes of catching a glimpse of a presidential candidate. It’s refreshing to work in an environment where everyone is allowed to express their political opinion and each person respects the others’ views.

As someone who is caucusing for the first time this year, I thought I would ask my politically minded co-workers about their caucus experiences and what they’re looking forward to on February 1.

Maggie Meyer: How many times have you caucused?

Joe Shannahan: Since I’ve been eligible to participate in Iowa’s presidential precinct caucuses, I’ve attended eight and worked for the Iowa Democratic Party twice (’88 and ‘92). The candidates I have supported include Jimmy Carter (‘76), President Carter (‘80), Alan Cranston (‘84), President Clinton (‘96), Vice President Gore (‘00), Howard Dean (‘04), Barack Obama (‘08), and President Obama (‘12).

Susan Severino Fenton: Junior delegate — Ronald Reagan (’76), junior delegate — Ronald Reagan (’80), first caucus — President Ronald Reagan (’84), Congressman Jack Kemp (’88), President George H. Bush (’92), Senator Phil Gramm (’96), Steve Forbes (’00), President George W. Bush (’04), Mayor Rudy Guiliani (’08), Governor Mitt Romney (’12), will caucus for Governor Chris Christie (’16).

Susan’s Memorabilia.

MM: What is your favorite caucus memory?

JS: While working at the tabulation center for the Iowa Democratic Party in 1988, there were a couple of Johnson County precincts that neglected to report their results into Des Moines, which is Iowa law, so we asked the sheriff’s office to “help” us collect the information.

Michael DuPré: I made homemade brownies to entice people to Dennis Kucinich’s corner in 2008. Unfortunately, I could not bring them in because it was against the rules of the middle school music room where the caucus was held.

MM: Do you have any advice for first-time caucus goers?

Laurel Bruntz: Just enjoy yourself! Even though it can be easy to forget, it is a privilege to get to participate in the first nominating contest, and to influence national politics the way that we do!

Emily Claghorn: Look up your caucus location beforehand; it is likely not the same as your voting location.

SSF: Arrive early. You have to be in line by 7:00 p.m. or you cannot vote. Your caucus will start more quickly if you are seated and ready to go at 7:00 p.m. Plan on staying at your caucus for two to three hours.

MM: As a first-time caucus-goer, what are you looking forward to most?

Christine Schick: The atmosphere. As a Democrat, I’m excited to see how loud and crazy the caucus gets. I’m also really curious to see if anyone switches candidates! I wonder if bribery really works.

Ashley Hunt: Seeing the results, meeting people who are in my party that live in my precinct, and having an active role in helping out at the caucus as my precinct’s reporter.

MM: Why do you think the caucuses are important for Iowa?

CS: What a huge boost to our state! More visitors, more publicity, more economic dollars being spent here. It’s a fantastic time for a state like ours, typically deemed a fly-over state, to really have a voice on the national stage.

SSF: The Iowa caucuses have produced some incredibly thoughtful and informed voters. Iowans are willing to travel miles on hot summer days and cold winter nights to hear the candidates and make their choice. We take our first-in-the-nation status seriously and this is good for Iowa.

Thanks to my politically involved co-workers, I now feel prepared to participate in the caucuses on February 1! Do you have a favorite memory from past caucuses or advice for first-time caucus goers? I’d love to hear it!