FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — We are just days away from the 2020 Iowa Caucus, the first major contest of the United States presidential primary season.
This happens every four years, and according to a local Political Science professor, Monday’s caucus is vital because it sets the stage for the rest of the primary before voters across the nation head to the polls in May.
“One relatively small state really sets the agenda moving forward,” said Mike Wolf, a political science professor at Purdue University of Fort Wayne
Wolf said winning the caucus really provides a lot of momentum to the winner. With President Donald Trump as the incumbent, the Democrats are considered the out party and history has proven that the caucus is usually a good indicator of who will gain the nomination.
“Jimmy Carter for instance, John Kerry, Barack Obama, these are all people that won the Iowa caucus and it really sent them to the nomination.”
Despite the caucus being geared toward Democrats, Allen County’s GOP Chairman Steve Shine said there is still much Republicans can look for.
“Quite frankly, Indiana and northwest Ohio is Donald Trump country,” said Shine. “This is the perfect opportunity to spotlight the differences between what the Democratic candidates stand for, compared to what President Trump has accomplished.”
According to some local experts, not only does the caucus show voters if their candidate has national appeal, but as a Midwestern state, Iowa has a lot of similarities to Indiana and Ohio. What’s more, one of the presidential candidates is a Hoosier – Pete Buttigieg.
“When the mayor of South Bend announces that he’s running for president, I drive all the way to South Bend to watch him announce that he’s going to run for president, because that’s one of ours,” said Misiti Meehan, Allen County Democratic Party Chair.
Coming into the race with little national experience, Buttigieg surprised many this election season, consistently polling high.
“Democrats kind of favor outside candidates and kind of give them some momentum to move forward relative to the other,” said Wolf. “The Republicans kind of go with the person out front.”
According to Wolf, the formula for Buttigieg to win in Iowa is electability paired with the ability to meet or exceed expectations.
“He really needs to get a pretty good result in Iowa, otherwise people are going to say that he didn’t do as well as expected,” said Wolf. “So, he could be one or two percentage points behind somebody else, but if he didn’t meet expectations then he can really cascade down quickly.”