Caucus shakeup prompts concern about candidate vetting

Iowa Caucuses News Graphic

When the 2024 presidential primary season kicks off, there’s a good chance Iowa’s caucuses won’t be in the spotlight as much.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee adopted plans to reshape the initial wave of states that choose their nominees. They’ll now have to apply, with a final decision expected this summer.

Terese Grant is the president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, which hasn’t taken a position on the matter. But she said being first, along with the unique nature of the caucuses, provides real value to voters everywhere. “The candidates spent a lot of time, not just in the big cities, but in rural communities,” said Grant. “And, you know, giving the Iowans a chance to ask lots of questions and see them on a personal basis.”

She suggested with national media following candidates here, the rest of the country gets to know them in real-time. Grant said that might be harder if candidates crisscross multiple states in early primaries.

The DNC wants to prioritize diversity in choosing who goes first, making it harder for Iowa and its mostly white population. Republicans still plan to keep the Iowa caucuses first.

Grant said a candidate’s policy plans are still very important for voters to research and consider, but getting to know their personalities shouldn’t be overlooked. She said she feels the caucuses give voters more of a window into how these individuals carry themselves. “Who they are is very important,” said Grant. “Are they genuine or are they ‘fake?’ Are they superficial?”

Meanwhile, Grant acknowledged that Iowa’s process for nominating a presidential candidate isn’t always perfect, pointing to the delay in finalizing results for the Democratic field in 2020. But she added it has largely been effective most other times and brings a lot of energy among voters.

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