Iowa prides itself as the first in the nation election of the primary season. As a caucus, it requires people actually going to a school, church, civic center or other location at a specific time to stand in front of your peers and actually select for the world to see who you are supporting. Iowans spend a lot of time on this, scrutinizing the candidates, seeing them up close first hand, and studying the issues. As Iowa is perennially a swing state (although lately it has a more reddish hue), there are plenty of voters across the whole spectrum to appeal to.
Because it is first, candidates make numerous trips to the state and go out of their way to court Iowa voters. In memory, I can think of only once when candidates chose not to compete in Iowa and that was in 1992 when Senator Tom Harkin was running for President, who happened to be from Iowa. It also plays an outsize role in winnowing the field down and setting up the rest of the primary season. Usually, only 3-4 candidates for each side survive coming out of the caucuses for the next big election, the New Hampshire Primaries. After that, the field is usually down to 2-3 on each side, and to be President you usually have to win one or the other. Without a good Iowa showing, a candidate can expect their financial, volunteer and organizational support to dry up very quickly. Trump finished second in Iowa (to Ted Cruz) and Obama beat Hillary there in 2008.
The exemplary state newspaper, and one of our favorite news organizations period, the Des Moines Register has a page monitoring candidate’s appearances and events in the state. You can find it here (IOWA CAMPAIGN SCHEDULE). You can check the schedule by candidate, location and party. It’s definitely worth your time. As more candidates announce and start having campaign events, we’ll check in from time to time, perhaps even posting about some of the larger events. We strongly encourage those with a favorite candidate to do so.