Too many candidates: Some Iowans tired of massive 2020 field

Aug 9, 2019, 6:01 AM
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden poses for a photo during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

That, coupled with the constant controversies out of Washington, has him a bit burnt out on politics.

“It’s a lot of work,” he bemoaned. “There’s starting to be a bit of fatigue.”

Iowans treasure the national attention that shines on them every four years when presidential candidates descend on the state, whose caucuses mark the beginning of an election year. But as virtually every Democratic contender swings through Iowa this weekend to participate in the famed state fair, even some die-hard Democratic activists are getting restless.

They’re worried the historically massive field isn’t shrinking fast enough and the debate stages — plural — are too crowded.

The concern isn’t limited to Iowa. Recent interviews with dozens of Democrats in other early-voting states registered a fresh anxiety among the most diligent deciders: If Democrats don’t start to figure things out soon, they could give President Donald Trump the upper hand.

“I think that watching the infighting could have Trump win again,” said Duane Campbell, a 29-year-old custodian in Las Vegas. “That’s what he wants. He wants us to infight.”

Beth Doney, a 62-year-old retired librarian in Las Vegas, said she too is worried the hits Democrats are taking at each other could leave the president better-positioned to win re-election.

“I’m just concerned that among Democrats, we’re not yet able to rally around a smaller group of people and really focus on beating Trump, which I think is the number one issue of the election,” Doney said.

A crowded primary field can be a good omen for a party, forcing candidates to endure bloody fights that can prepare them for the general election. In 2016, 17 Republicans battled for the Republican nomination before Trump took on Hillary Clinton, who faced just one serious Democratic challenger.

National polls suggest Democrats are enthusiastic about the array of candidates. But there are plenty of jitters, too.

In a June AP/NORC poll, 79% of Democratic voters said they were very interested in the 2020 election. But 59% also said they were anxious about it. Half of Democratic voters in that survey said they were frustrated with the campaign, while 31% said they were excited.

And the interviews capture the pit-of-stomach-worry for a party that is desperate to oust Trump: With so much at stake, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Might this epic primary be a distraction from the main event?

In Iowa, Kim Sleezer, a 48-year-old middle school teacher, said that’s her main concern.

“I feel like the longer we’re watering things down, the less time we have to kind of get everything together and fight the bigger fight that we have against Trump,” she said.

In New Hampshire, 77-year-old Claire Karibian worried that it would be tough to pick the best candidate given so many choices.

“I wish there was less,” she said. “Because if there was less, they would be better financed and they would have a better handle on getting the best.”

Stiffer requirements to qualify for the September debate could force some candidates out of the race in the coming weeks.

But those most at risk of being cut aren’t rushing for the exits. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock are so far resisting entreaties to abandon their low-polling White House bids to instead run for the Senate.

“For most Americans, the first time they thought about the Democratic primary was when we had a debate last month,” former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who is also polling near the bottom of the field, told reporters recently.

Lindsey Ellickson, a Democratic activist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said she is worried that all of the focus on the presidential candidates diverts attention from critical down-ballot races. She said Democrats also need to focus on city council and statehouse seats, as well as the campaign to defeat Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

“Having most of the campaign staff hired by 25 different candidates, and most of the attention going toward door-knocking for presidential candidates is not helpful at this time,” Ellickson said.

Montgomery County, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Joey Norris said with at least 15 campaigns deploying staff to his rural county, “we’re seeing that each campaign is tripping over each other in our small counties and our small towns.”

He said voters being repeatedly called by campaigns might avoid their phones soon.

Matt Martin, a 41-year-old scientist from Iowa City, said he’s hit that point already.

“I definitely think there is a little bit of a burnout from getting texts from people that are involved with the campaigns” inviting him to events, he said. “Right now, I’m just ignoring them.”

His friend, Leigh Nida, a doctoral student in educational policy, was equally frustrated.

“It’s interesting that you’re getting texts about events — I’m just getting asked for money,” she said. “I’m a graduate student. I don’t have any money!”

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Lisa Garner. Photo credit Draper City....
Mark Jones

Lisa Garner has support of Draper mayor to become next city judge

Draper Mayor Troy Walker is seeking the appointment of Lisa Garner as the city's next judge. The appointment must be approved by the city council on Oct. 4.
1 day ago
Two Murray police cruisers are shown...
Mark Jones

Murray Police warning public to be on lookout for scam

Several reports of a scam have been reported in Murray. According to police, a caller pretends to be from the Murray Police Department and attempts to notify a person of a warrant and insists the person pay the bail amount.
1 day ago
An electronic sign on the campus of the University of Utah was seen displaying pornography today....
Becky Bruce

Slight increase in crime on U of U campus from previous year, report says

There has been a slight increase in crime on campus over the previous year, according to a report released Friday by the University of Utah.
1 day ago
Turkey and cattle farms near Moroni, Utah. Three additional cases of avian influenza have been conf...
Mark Jones

Three additional cases of avian influenza confirmed in Sanpete County

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Friday that three additional cases of avian influenza have been confirmed on turkey farms in Sanpete County.
1 day ago
A three-vehicle crash Friday afternoon sent two people to the hospital. Photo credit: Marissa Cox....
Mark Jones

Three-vehicle crash in Stansbury Park sends two people to hospital

A three-vehicle crash Friday afternoon in Stansbury Park sent two people to the hospital.
1 day ago
A downed power line near a road is pictured in Puerto Rico....
Aimee Cobabe

Puerto Rico still needs helps, the Red Cross says

The Red Cross said it’s difficult to get help to everyone in Puerto Rico right now because many areas are still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Too many candidates: Some Iowans tired of massive 2020 field