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Campaigns establish operations in Grinnell

Offices for Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are all located in downtown Grinnell. An office for Andrew Yang will soon join them. Photo by Isabel Torrence
Offices for Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are all located in downtown Grinnell. An office for Andrew Yang will soon join them. Photo by Isabel Torrence

As the Iowa caucuses approach, several Democratic presidential candidates are working to solidify their presence in Iowa by opening campaign offices in Grinnell.

Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have campaign offices up and running. Jill Biden was in Grinnell Sunday, Dec. 1 for Joe Biden’s office opening, and Andrew Yang will be here on Tuesday, Dec. 10 for his office opening. 

All four of these campaign offices are located in downtown Grinnell.

Professor Barb Trish, political science, said that not only do these Grinnell offices mean the campaigns have plenty of money, but, “It says a little bit about their vision of how long they’ll be around. You’re not going to sign a lease if you’re really worried that a week from now the campaign won’t be in place.” 

Co-chair of the Grinnell College Campus Democrats, Nat Jordan ’21, echoed this sentiment. “I think opening an office in a small town like Grinnell indicates they are going to be here at least through the Iowa caucuses,” he said. 

According to The Economist’s national polling average, all four of these candidates with campaign offices in Grinnell are among the top five highest polling candidates.

Additionally, Professor Trish noted the benefits to the campaigns of having an office. “Having a permanent, physical space is something that’s notable. It suggests that there is a place for people to get together and work. It signals to the broader community that there’s something of significance about the campaign,” she said. She added that as caucus time gets closer, “It’ll be really important to have a secure space.”

Jordan pointed out that these office spaces can be helpful for organizing. Though he said the Campus Democrats are remaining neutral and not engaging in campaigning for particular candidates, he said, “I think [the offices are] a good resource to send students [to] who reach out to us looking for ways to get involved in campaigns. We can just send them to that office, and there is almost always a person there during business hours, so you can just walk in and say, like, ‘I want to help.’”

Jordan also said that opening offices here in Grinnell might be reflective of campaign strategies for these candidates, saying that the attention from many high-polling candidates “speaks to the organizing potential that we have in Grinnell, both in terms of townspeople and students.” He said, “I think that this precinct is really important for a lot of campaigns, and in an era where people are trying to get college students involved and they think the young people are crucial to winning national elections, I think showing you can win young populations is important for future states.” 

However, Professor Trish said the concentration of offices in Grinnell might have more to do with logistics. “Depending on how the campaign organizes itself geographically, it just might make sense to be in Grinnell. Ideally, you want to be at the middle of the turf,” she said. Additionally, she said, “It probably says something about the availability of space too,” noting that Grinnell has the available storefronts to accommodate these offices.

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