Campaigns energize crowds in final days before Iowa caucus

In the final days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, crowds at campaign events are becoming more energetic.

Democratic candidates are preparing for the Iowa caucuses with multiple rallies and events around the state. Iowa is the first state in the country to cast a vote in the primary and in the general election.

The voting system in Iowa, however, is different from Missouri’s. Instead of a ballot primary on the Democratic side, Iowa utilizes a caucus system in which voters openly cast their vote and candidates must reach a 15% viability threshold.

Most candidates are hosting events in the final days to solidify their support and win the state. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren hosted a Get Out the Caucus Rally Saturday, Feb. 1 in Iowa City. Warren was joined by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who also serves as her campaign co-chair.

Warren talked about her experiences growing up in a working class home and her plans for a variety of policies, including criminal justice and education, before taking questions from the audience. 

Questions centered around what kind of leadership she will bring to the country, why she’s running for president and what her healthcare plan looks like.

Warren’s rally starkly contrasted Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ energetic concert with alternative rock band Vampire Weekend in nearby Cedar Rapids. 

Sanders’ event featured filmmaker Michael Moore, activist Cornel West, and Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, among others. The campaign reported 3,000 attendees, most of which were under 40.

Tahirah Ninvestdi, a first-time caucuser this cycle, was one of the voters waiting to hear from Sanders. She said she was likely going to support the senator from Vermont because she favored his education and minimum wage plans over other candidates, and liked how consistent he has been on his policy stances. 

According to Sanders’ website, he supports tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities and trade schools, as well as cancelling student loan debt for 45 million Americans. Sanders also supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Ninvestdi said Sanders’ plan mattered to her because she would be going to college soon and doesn’t want to go into debt to get an education. Although she was unable to vote, Ninvestdi said she began attending political events in 2016.

The Iowa caucuses are the evening of Monday, Feb. 3.