Poli Sci 2020: Daemen students study the Iowa campaign trail

Feb 3, 2020

From Des Moines to Council Bluffs, a group of students from Daemen College spent six days in Iowa to study the intense campaigning leading up to today's Iowa Caucuses. Leading their itinerary was Jay Wendland, associate professor of political science. Dr. Wendland says the group was able to attend several events and form a variety of opinions on most of the Democratic Party's Presidential candidates.


"It was very down to earth," said Wendland in describing the atmosphere in Iowa.

"In terms of what people normally see on the news or in the media about what’s happening in Iowa, is really what we got to see first hand.”

For the most part, Wendland says the candidates stick to their main talking points during their campaign events. His group saw most of the major Democratic candidates at gatherings, small and large. For instance, former Vice President Joe Biden held an "intimate" session where he was able to bond with those in attendance.

In Wendland's view, the candidate with "the most Iowan appeal' was Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.

"Buttigieg told many, many stories about people he had met in Iowan and related their problems to his campaign platform the most."

Students will use their experience to put together presentations in class and at a special college event later in the year. Wendland also plans on writing a paper about the trip.

The also attended a forum on Democracy where the candidates talked about getting big money out of politics. A strong opinion was formed.

“I’m not entirely sure what left a bad taste in these students’ mouths from (Minnesota Senator) Amy Klobuchar, but they all kind of walked out not supporting Klobuchar’s run for the Presidency,”
Wendland said.

"The candidate I think they were most excited to see before we had even left for Iowa was (Vermont Senator) Bernie Sanders.”

Wendland says his students were surprised about Massacusetts Sen. Elizabreth Warren, who was “welcoming” and “approachable.”

As for predictions?

Based on the enthusiasm among Iowa supporters, Wendland would give the edge to Bernie Sanders with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren “a close second,” though he offers no guarantees

"You can ask any of my students, I’ve been known to be wrong about these things in the past."