Christmas in July is a popular contradiction; have a Christmas party while the temperatures are soaring and lemonade is the beverage of choice. It is an ironic celebration because, as Bing Crosby told us, Christmas should be white, and in July, everything is green.
In Iowa we have another tradition that takes place when the snow is falling, the caucus. But, unlike Christmas, there is no emotional attachment between the white stuff and vote casting. Holding the caucus mid-winter is strictly practical; Iowa goes first and being first means voting before the eggnog goes bad. If we aren’t done voting long before Valentine’s Day, some other sneaky state will try to get ahead of us. (Mid-winter caucusing is not everyone’s favorite. A lot of people (Rick Perry’s Texas-based staff) would be happy if caucus campaigning didn’t require them to purchase an all new winter wardrobe. And the Clinton campaign famously worried about getting elderly voters out on an icy night 8 years ago.)
But this cycle we are getting something a little special. We don’t need to wait until the stockings are hung to see all the candidates invade Iowa. Don’t tell Bing Crosby, but this year we are starting our caucus in July.
July 13, 2015, through July 20, 2015, is going to be a banner week for campaigning in Iowa. According to the candidate tracker on the Des Moines Register website, there will be approximately sixty opportunities for Iowan’s to listen to the candidates this week. (There were sixty scheduled at the time I wrote this. That number is likely to grow.) Additionally, almost every major candidate will be in Iowa at some point before the 21st. The entire declared Democratic field will be in the state for Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids, while many of the Republicans will be attending the Family Leadership Summit in Ames. Scott Walker is also making his first official visit to Iowa as a candidate this week, during which he will traverse the state in an RV. (Hopefully he watches out for RAGBRAI riders who hit the roads on Sunday.) As Brett Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal pointed out, even remote NW Iowa will see visits from all of the GOP frontrunners within a few days time.
For perspective, that is as many or more candidate visits in a single July week in 2015 than happened in the entire month of July in 2011. (You can check out the 2011 schedule on the Des Moines Register website here. But note that the Register’s 2011/12 tracker is slightly defunct. You have to massage it find out who was where when.) More importantly, the Des Moines Register tracked only four candidates (Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, and Gary Johnson) during the entire month of July in 2011. This week, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Mark Everson, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham and Frank Luntz will all be campaigning in Iowa. (Frank Luntz may not be running for President, but he is in Iowa so often it is easy to get confused.). That totals at least 17 candidates in Iowa in a single week six months before caucus. For bonus points, George Pataki was in Iowa last week, as were John Cogswell and Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie will be in Iowa next week. (John Kasich and Jim Gilmore, where are you???)
So here is my recommendation to my fellow Iowans. Seize this opportunity to see candidates in the sunshine and celebrate the caucus in July. If you want, head to Ames or Cedar Rapids for the big events. (I’m guessing most of Starting Line’s regular readers will be going to either the Hall of Fame dinner or the Family Leadership Summit.) But even if you skip the big events, take in a Pizza Ranch with Ben Carson or a pork tenderloin somewhere with Jim Webb. Ask some questions, get involved in the process and get to know the candidates this July. That way when Christmas in December rolls around, you won’t feel the quite the same pressure to get on a snowmobile to see Ted Cruz or wait in line to see Donald Trump’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. (Spoiler alert: in Trump’s version, the ghosts gather around a boardroom table while Scrooge tells Bob Cratchit “you’re fired.” Tiny Tim is deported and Scrooge spends the holiday at the “best golf course ever” eating the “best, biggest goose you’ve ever seen.”)
Take it away Bing:
I’m dreaming of a green caucus,
Just like the one in Idaho (May in 2012).
Where the corn rows glisten,
And reporters listen,
To hear us weigh-in on Mr. Rubio…
by Jason Winter
For a full calendar of Iowa Caucus candidate events, make sure to bookmark the Des Moines Register’s calendar. We check it every single day