Who Iowans Liked At Tonight’s Debate Watch Parties

Iowans gathered at debate watch parties throughout the state to watch the ten leading Democratic candidates square off at the latest debate. As always, your Starting Line team was out at many debate watch parties across Central Iowa, from a Drake University gathering with new students to a Salvadorian restaurant where attendees watched the debate on Telemundo.

Here’s what Iowans thought about the candidates at neutral watch parties:

Drake University

College students, many of them freshman at one of their first political events, met at the Drake student union to take in the debate.

Wyatt Van Dyke, 18, Lake Geneva, WI

“The format has made it the most informative debate. I was so excited to hear education discussed. Andrew Yang hit really hard on it. Elizabeth Warren too … I’m leaning towards Pete Buttigieg. Cory Booker as well … I feel like [Harris] has had a weird night. She’s relied more on jokes than usual. She’s more conversational. She’s not high on my list.”

Karin Berdahl, 18, Duluth, MN

“Beto impressed. I have a soft spot for Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. I think Beto [had the biggest moment]. He’s been making a lot of good points … To be totally frank, I’d like to see younger blood in office, just because of how much society has changed.”

Meghan Newman, 18, Washington, Iowa

“I do like Amy Klobuchar a lot. She’s moderate. I’m not necessarily going for moderate, but I think that’s easier to elect at this point because they swung for Donald Trump in 2016.”

Jayden Fox, 18, Waukee

“I think on issues of race, Cory Booker is the most intelligent. He has the best shot at fixing the divide.”

Payton Slobodzian, 18, Kansas City, Kansas

“I do like seeing it [the heated, direct responses]. There’s a good amount of unity, but it’s nice to see where policies are going to be the same and where they’re going to be different … I really do like what [Castro] has to say [on immigration]. Something really needs to change.”

Abby Bankes, 18, Oak Park, Illinois 

“I think it’s important for candidates to be passionate. But I don’t like that it’s turned into getting the best one-liner, who gets the best jabs.”

Madison County

A group of county party activists got together at a house in Winterset to watch the debate.

Mara Feirer, 16, Winterset

“I loved that when Kamala made her opening statement towards Trump, Elizabeth clapped for her. I really want a female president, and I really love seeing those two support each other.”

Lynette Judd, Winterset

“People who have been polling the lowest have really shown improvements. Amy did really well tonight. Pete and Yang did well … I think overall the candidates were respectful. Castro and Joe Biden had a heated moment, but for me it’s important that they don’t attack each other. I don’t agree with the President, but I need them to show what they’re for instead of attacking.”

Barb Pfeiffer, Winterset

“I want to see Elizabeth Warren do well … I like how Elizabeth really goes after the corporations. Her experience and knowledge in that area is — no one is that knowledgeable … I really like Joe Biden. People make fun of him, but he’s been around and I think he’s got it together much more than people say … And I really like Pete Buttigieg, I think he’s sharp. I think people would rather elect a gay man than a woman, I’m afraid.”

Joyce Kooker, Winterset

“I really like Pete Buttigieg and I like the things he’s saying. He talks plain. He talks about changing the Supreme Court and how we get judges on there. That’s a new idea—I’m intrigued. I worry about his electability because he’s gay. I think a lot of people wouldn’t vote for him because he’s gay. Which is silly, but it’s true … I worry about Joe, Sanders and Elizabeth being too old.”

Abbi Sawhill, 17, Winterset

“Elizabeth Warren [is my favorite candidate], because I agree with most of her views and I am impressed with all of her plans on different issues. Another part of this is that she is already popular with the people and, in my opinion, stands a very good chance of becoming elected.”

Chris Jordan, Peru (Iowa)

“I like Pete, I like Elizabeth, I like Joe. Bernie Sanders could fall off into a ditch and I wouldn’t care … I don’t believe in Medicare for All. I think everyone should have health insurance, so just fix the current system a little. I like Joe’s stance on this.”

Jill Alexander, Winterset

“I think the person best able to go toe-to-toe with Trump is Michael Bennet … But Michael Bennet, I’ve never been called for a poll, how could he reach the bar to get on stage?”

“I liked Amy in her response to her track record in Minnesota on gun violence, I thought it was very powerful and precise. I’m also seeing her on C-SPAN 3, on different hearings, and she’s extremely effective.”

On O’Rourke’s gun stance: “AK guns across the board should be banned. Our children are learning in school gun drills or active shooter drills before they learn to read. I don’t think the Second Amendment should impose that.”

Polk County Democrats

As they have for all the debates so far, county party activists bellied up to the bar at Teddy Maroon’s on Ingersol Avenue.

Kevin Cavallin, 48, Ames

“I’m an undecided voter, but it’s kind of funny because I’m deciding that right now. I like Biden, but he’s a freaking train wreck. Warren is a stronger candidate and I like her a lot, but the problem is, or my concern is, that she’s going to cause all of the Independents and all of the Republicans that are disenfranchised to go running the other direction. I agree with her on principle, I’m just concerned about her progressive stances. Biden’s stances I like better. I think they’re more moderate, but I also think the guy’s a train wreck. The man can’t walk five feet without sticking his foot in his mouth or contradicting himself. So right now, I’m just kind of disheartened at the fact there are polar opposites on either side.

Andrew Tatge, 32, Des Moines

“For me, I like more liberal candidates. I like Warren’s array of plans. She’s very thoughtful and she’s actually making something that works, not something that sounds good in a soundbite. After Trump became President and defied all pollsters and predictions, I put less stock in what is winnable and what is not winnable.”

Ben Singer, 33, Des Moines

Singer is a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders.

“I appreciate a candidate who is going to take on systems that create the larger problems. The larger problem is the system. They need to take on the systems that create the other problems. What’s electable about making a system that nobody likes as it is? You wouldn’t go out to the wild blue yonder by having Medicare for All. There are plenty of moderate first-world countries that do that and they provide it to everybody.”

Pupusas & Politics Watch Party

A diverse mix of young voters in the Des Moines area gathered at a Salvadorian restaurant to watch the debate in Spanish on Telemundo. Biden did not do well among this crowd, getting booed the first several times he was featured on stage, regardless of what he said.

Andrew McGrean, 32, Des Moines

“I’m undecided right now, but I’m leaning toward O’Rourke. I think electabilty has to be a concern. I was actually a Republican that really dislikes Trump’s stances on immigration and trade and various troubles, so I switched to Independent and intend on caucusing with the Democrats. Immigration and trade are big issues for me … I think Sanders and Warren would be a disaster against Trump. I question their ability to draw out the coalition that Obama was able to put together.”

Christina Fernandez-Morrow, 39. Des Moines

“I’m leaning towards Elizabeth Warren. I’m looking at Kamala Harris and Julian Castro. I want someone who has a backbone. I think that I’m definitely looking at medication and Medicare. I typically don’t look a lot at immigration because there are other things that needed to be more important back then, but now that’s on my radar for sure.”

Marlu Abarca, 27, of Des Moines

“I’m undecided still. I have Warren up there, Bernie, Tulsi and I don’t know. Those are my top three … My entire life I’ve been a beneficiary of or have had family members — my mom, my brothers — are still beneficiaries of Medicaid. The fact there’s a program out there to have the access to health care is incredibly important. I have some very close friends who are DACA recipients and they do not have access to health care.”



by Josh Cook, Paige Godden, Nikoel Hytrek, Isabella Murray and Pat Rynard
Photo by Julie Fleming
Posted 9/12/19

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