Coming up on Feb. 3, the first presidential caucuses in Iowa will reveal the preferences of voters in the heartland and are seen as a strong indicator for how candidates will do in later contests. (npr.org)

Iowans Prep for First-in-Nation Presidential Caucuses

By: Roz Brown, Public News Service

DES MOINES, Iowa – Presidential campaigns have been made or lost in Iowa, and because exit polls show voters age 50 and older play a significant role, an outreach campaign is underway to inform them about what to expect on Feb. 3.

Brad Anderson, director of AARP Iowa, said events will be held across the state next month to let people know how to participate. Seven are scheduled – including lunches, dinners, and on-tap trivia events. They bookend the July presidential forums, also co-hosted by AARP, that featured 17 of the Democratic presidential candidates.

“Frankly, we have a lot of say in who becomes the next nominee and ultimately, who becomes the next president of the United States,” he said, “and so, we believe members of the 50-plus population should have a say in that process.”

The events will be held Dec. 8-16. Times and locations are online at AARP.org/IA.

The Democrats running for president have received the lion’s share of attention in Iowa, but Anderson said AARP encourages members of all political parties to be part of the caucuses. He noted that voters 50 and older consistently say the candidates’ positions on the economy, Social Security and Medicare – especially the high cost of prescription drugs – will be key to their caucus vote.

“According to exit polls from years past, 60% of the people who participate in the Iowa caucuses are over the age of 50,” he said, “and we want to make sure that they participate in this historic event, with the eyes of the entire world upon Iowa for that one night in February.”

Iowa Democrats had planned to host the first-ever “virtual caucuses” this year to improve accessibility, but that proposal was ruled out due to fears about hacking. Instead, “satellite caucuses” will be held for those who can’t attend in person. Anderson noted that AARP is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates or donates to campaigns.


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