When putting together Starting Line’s poll, there were a number of suggestions of people outside of the gubernatorial and secretary of state race to test their favorability among likely primary-going Democrats. Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price’s name was one suggestion, to which I figured, hey, why not? Just how well does the Democratic base know their chair, and do they like him?
The results were….. not that interesting.
66% of respondents said they hadn’t heard of Price. 18% had no opinion. 10% rated Price favorably, while 5% saw him unfavorably. I wouldn’t put too much stock into that unfavorable number, as if you look at all the results in the other poll questions, there seemed to be some people who just didn’t like anyone (especially in CD 2 for whatever reason). He’s the most well-known in the Des Moines area, where most of his political career has been spent (and where the main activist and donor crowd is that knows about these things). See the full crosstabs here.
Price is very well-known and popular among involved activists, issue groups and donors. He ran One Iowa, was the IDP’s executive director for the 2014 cycle, worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and ran Todd Prichard’s gubernatorial campaign for part of this year. But he’s only been in the chair role for a little over four months, so it’s no surprise that the broader Democratic base isn’t as aware of him yet. He took over in July when he handily won the State Central Committee’s vote to fill the current vacancy.
It is, however, an interesting contrast to the former IDP chair, Andy McGuire, who was the third most-known in our poll of the actual gubernatorial candidates. It also makes sense. McGuire served as chair during the Iowa Caucus, when the party leader was often in the news talking about the party’s preparations for the major event. The top-of-ticket candidate in 2016 was a national one, so McGuire often filled in for the local press interviews about the party’s message. And right now, the seven Democratic candidates for governor are usually the ones getting air time when it comes to criticizing the Republican governor. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Senate Republicans have also been in a total meltdown the past few months, bouncing around from scandals to budget disasters. Sometimes when your opponent is imploding, it’s best to get out of their way.
There hasn’t been as much of a need for Price to be the overwhelming public face of the party in the media (and again, he’s only been on the job a few months).
Actually, for as much talk as there is on social media about party leadership, it’s a good reminder that the bulk of any IDP chair’s time is spent toiling away behind the scenes on any number of projects to keep the party afloat. Raising enough money to make payroll. Directing a full staff to engage with activists around the state. Traveling to speak at Democratic functions. Keeping everyone behind the scenes happy (probably the most important, under-appreciated aspect) and putting out fires. Those are all often the thankless, less-publicized part of the job that makes the biggest difference in the role.
It’s also tasks that the workman Price seems well-suited for, and most reviews from campaigns, activists and donors – publicly and privately – of the IDP since Price’s election have been rather positive.
Still, were Price ever to get the campaign bug himself and think of running for office, he’ll need to boost his name I.D. in a big way. And now, if anyone ever polls Price’s numbers in the future and they’re higher (which they almost certainly will be), he can claim the “Big Momentum.”
by Pat Rynard
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