While the presidential impeachment trial rages on in Washington, with today’s issue being Chief Justice John Robert’s refusal to read a question from Rand Paul (R-KY) because it contained the name of Eric Ciaramella, there is another struggle going on in Iowa that is reaching its climax. Confined to the Senate chambers to attend the impeachment trial, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar have been shuttling back and forth between Washington and Iowa to battle for their positions, while candidates such as Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg have taken advantage of their situation to campaign hard in their absence.
Latest polls show Biden and Sanders as the frontrunners in the Iowa caucuses, but with Sanders stuck in Washington for the impeachment trial, he has been forced to wage a remote campaign, sending his aides to meet with delegates and try to gain momentum before the caucuses on Monday. Meanwhile, Biden has engaged on a whirlwind tour of Iowa across 20 cities to take advantage of the situation and pull ahead of Sanders while he fulfills his Senate duties.
Sanders has been visibly uncomfortable during the impeachment proceedings, even publicly stating that he would “rather be in Iowa” that handle his Senate duties at the trial. Regardless, he has maintained his status as a frontrunner in Iowa and has gained momentum in future primaries such as New Hampshire and California.
Warren, while publicly stating that her Senate duty is more important than politics, is also eager to return to Iowa, where her husband Bruce Mann has been attending events in her place. Despite the scheduling conflicts, she has steadily maintained support in the mid-teens along with Pete Buttigieg.
Like Biden, Pete Buttigieg has also been on a tear across the state, hosting town halls and targeting rural areas that other candidates won’t have the time to access. Taking advantage of an impeachment-free schedule, he’s also maintained support in the mid-teens along with Warren.
Also facing an obligation to remain in Washington is Amy Klobuchar, a moderate Democrat who gained the endorsement of Iowa state representative Monica Kurth. Klobuchar has been polling behind Warren and Buttigieg but still has a loyal following supporting her campaign in Iowa.
Michael Bloomberg is trailing the caucus polls by a significant gap, but don’t count out his influence on the primaries. Operating a self-funded campaign, the billionaire has taken out a Super Bowl ad to advance his campaign, tackling the issue of gun violence. Although considered an outside candidate to the DNC, Bloomberg’s vast financial resources and political capital as the former mayor of New York cannot be underestimated.
As the candidates (or, for those stuck in Washington, their delegates) rush all around Iowa to drum up support, they prepare for Monday, when the caucuses begin. The caucuses are a complex process, but their outcome has been remarkably indicative of the ultimate winner of the party primary. Because of this candidates focus much of their efforts on Iowa, so that they can carry that momentum into other primaries to win the Democratic nomination.