The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Campaigns gear up as Iowa caucuses loom


With the Iowa caucuses right around the corner, presidential campaign chapters at the College are gearing up for the culmination of all their hard work. Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, IN, Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have particularly notable presence at Grinnell College. While each campaign has been tabling and canvassing for months, the past week has been busy for all of them.

While Warren’s team has taken the more traditional strategies of campaigning at the College to heart, such as canvassing, phone banking, and tabling in the JRC, they have also adopted a few other strategies that other campaigns at Grinnell have not. Ryland Rich ‘22, volunteer coordinator for Warren’s Grinnell campaign, has been hard at work preparing for the caucus.  “We’ve just been doing so many things, not only just tabling outside the JRC,” said Rich, but also [tabling] in the HSSC or just silently in Burling and things like that. I think that sort of presence is just showing people that this is a grassroots campaign, and there are so many supporters.”

Rich put particular emphasis on the communal organization of Warren’s campaign in Iowa. “The campaign and the club do a really good job of having little workshops and practices, like a weekly meeting.” Rich explained, “They’ll do practice one-on-ones with people where you can bring up things that have worked in the past or things that haven’t.”

Team Pete, on the other hand, is relying heavily on the relationships that students and community members have built with each other on their own. “The best part of Pete’s strategy is that it’s done through connections that already exist,” said MJ Uzzi ‘23, co-leader of Grinnell for Pete. “We depend on people that like Pete to talk to their friends and people that they trust, because we know that everyone has their own experiences. So, we’re doing relational organizing, which is the friend to friend social stuff this week.” Uzzi also added that Team Pete was rallying for a major canvassing effort this weekend, saying, “This weekend is a big weekend of action where we’re trying to knock [on] every door and just get people to the caucus in any way that you can.” 

The Grinnell team for Sanders is turning their attention outwards towards the town of Grinnell. Paige Oamek ‘20, an intern for the Sanders campaign, said, “We did so much work in the beginning on campus, we’re also able to lend a hand to what we call the field teams of the town of Grinnell, as well as the surrounding rural areas that are sometimes neglected by campaign staffing.” The national Sanders campaign, meanwhile, scheduled two events with Sanders surrogates at the College. “What we’re doing to gear up for the caucuses is helping put on those national events,” Oamek explained. “[Sanders] was scheduled to come last fall, and it was the exact weekend that he had his health scare.”

One aspect of the campaigns that each team seemed to agree on was the importance of the caucuses themselves. “The Iowa caucuses do have a huge effect on the outcome of the democratic field. And it really matters because sometimes they do come down to really close ties and things like that,” said Rich. 

“It really matters to go and vote. Be there.” Oamek stressed the importance of punctuality in arriving at the caucus. “One thing that we can do is make sure people don’t get shut out at the door as a first step. If they’re able to make it there … they’re able to make it in the room. So, show up early.” The caucus starts at 7:00 PM on Monday, and if voters arrive even slightly late, they may be barred from caucusing at all. And while each campaign wants as many people to caucus for them as possible, it’s important that their voters can get through the door first.

Uzzi also brought up the idea that the caucuses could be seen as a privilege: “It’s an opportunity that not many people are going to get,” she said. “I don’t know if everyone realizes what an exciting honor it is to be able to participate in this particular [caucus], because it’s so impactful for the rest of the country. Everybody’s watching us.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *