By Nick Davis
Iowa is no stranger to presidential politics as it proudly hosts the first in the nation caucuses and yet again, both campaigns are vigorously courting voters with two weeks left to go before the elections.
The most recent RealClearPolitics average of polls has Barack Obama leading by two percentage points, 49-47 with the more urban neighborhoods leaning democratic and the rural areas more conservative. Similar to New Hampshire, which I wrote about in one of my earlier blogs, Iowa managed to avoid the economic crisis that has saddled this country. At the peak of the crisis, Iowa sat at 6.3% unemployment, well below the national average.
Both candidates have made the state a priority in the weeks leading up to the election. Each has made appearances in the state and have more scheduled. Obama recently made a stop on the campus of Iowa State University as part of his college campus tour. He hammered away at his support of Pell grants and other educational support and subsidies. In addition to his campus stop, Obama also has plans to visit the state. He was scheduled to be in Davenport on Wednesday.
Mitt Romney has also made inroads in the state, speaking in Cedar Rapids today as well as in Ames this Friday in addition to his campaign stop at a family farm in Van Meter. His running mate, Paul Ryan, has also made stops, including Sunday when he spoke in Council Bluffs. Romney has made it his priority to discuss his 5-point plan to get the economy back to full speed. In Ames, his appeal to students will likely be that his economic plan will make it easier for college graduates to find employment.
Early voting was a key factor in Obama’ 2008 victory. Talking Points Memo reports that among early voters in Iowa this year, ballots cast lean Obama by a margin of 2 to 1.
As a resident of Iowa and a student at Iowa State University, it’s very clear that Obama has the larger footprint in the state of late. In Ames specifically, Obama has made more campaign stops (but not after Friday) in addition to appearances by celebrities like Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Justin Long.
However, Romney isn’t shy about having his friends make the rounds for him in Iowa, either. His campaign will have several high profile politicians speaking to Iowans in the coming days, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in Davenport, Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Preibus, in Council Bluffs, Davenport, and Des Moines. The sitting governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, will also be stumping in Des Moines and Mason City.
Iowa has another ballot measure that has been getting a lot of press lately. There are strong efforts to remove and retain a justice on the Iowa Supreme Court, Justice David Wiggins. Advocates of removal state that Wiggins along with others on the bench overstepped their authority when they struck down a law that prevented people from marrying people of the same sex. The removal could very well happen. Three justices were removed at this time in 2010, the first time it has ever happened in Iowa.
Much like everyone else in the country, Iowans are looking forward to November 7th when all the political ads and phone calls will end. Iowa will play a major role in which direction the country will take as well as define how perceived “judicial activism” is viewed around the country.