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Hometown Campaign Stops

Posted: January 12, 2016 | By: Ellen Bruegger Tagged: From the Campaign Trail

1407049146000-election2Fall semester is over, but that doesn’t mean campaign events are! After finishing finals I headed back to my parents house and hometown in Burlington to celebrate Christmas. For obvious reasons most candidates campaign in Des Moines; it’s the state capital and most-populated city. This has also the place I’ve attended campaign events this year. Burlington is such a different place than Des Moines for many reasons, population, demographics, and income to name a few, so I was so excited to see what a campaign stop was like in Burlington. Here are the 5 biggest differences I noticed:

Social aspect beats political

More people hanging around after the event to chitchat among themselves than to see the candidate; many of the guests have all lived in Burlington their whole lives and events like this get them excited. They look forward to meeting the candidates but for many the real pleasure is seeing who attends, gossiping and catching up with them.

Little media

The only media present was a reporter from the local paper, a big contrast to event in Des Moines that usually have multiple newspapers and television media present. In fact the local paper only wrote a small article on the event that was on page 10.

No opposition or protestors

Almost every event I’ve attended so far has had at least a few people there with the intention of making the candidate fumble on difficult questions or vocally protest them. Every in attendance at any event appeared to be a supporter or a respectful opposition.

Close-knit crowd

Burlington, Iowa, is a town of only 25,000 people and people know nearly everyone. My parents attended one event with me and the two of them knew almost every person present. When we arrived at the town hall it was comical; however, when it took 45 minutes to leave the humor quickly left.

Senior citizen nation

As I mentioned before the median age in Burlington is nearly 40, in Polk County where I have attended the majority of events this cycle is has a median age of 34. This difference was less than I expected. At actual events the age gap is much different; in Burlington the majority of the crowd appeared to be in 60s with fewer than twenty people appearing to be younger than 40. While in Des Moines crowds have a far more diverse age group, this is likely due to a more robust economy, and multiple colleges and universities.

Depth of questions

While at a town hall with Carly Fiorina the audience had the opportunity to ask many questions of the presidential hopeful, but for the first time at any event this cycle there were not a multitude of questions. In fact there were seldom more than two hands raised in the air at any time. There was also a lack of depth to the questions being asked; I don’t mean that the audience had a lack of intelligence instead it seemed they wanted to be polite.

In Des Moines there always appears to be stiff competition to get your question answered and to showcase you knowledge on the candidate and the issues.

IMG_1211Bruegger is a graduate student in the School of Education pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Studies Education. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Iowa and talks to her two cats way too much. Follow her on Twitter.