At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, Professor Michael Smith, department chair of social sciences, and 14 students will leave ESU to attend the Iowa caucus at Simpson College in Iowa. The caucus takes place at 7 p.m. Monday evening, and the group will stay the night and arrive back at ESU around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Smith says the group might also participate in a political rally after the caucus, if invited. The students each paid $100 and were asked to bring additional money for food and souvenirs.
The Iowa caucuses are the first step toward deciding the two candidates of the final presidential election.
Mackenzie Haddix, president of the campus collegiate Republicans and sophomore elementary education major, said “I think, especially if you are a democrat, it’s really important to pay attention to this Iowa caucus because this is where the candidates…start their momentum.”
Grecia Caro, sophomore secondary education major, will be going on the trip.
“I’m not registered to vote yet, so hopefully going to this, I will have an idea on who to vote for in November,” Caro said.
Caro said she considers herself part of the Independent party and believes it is important to stay open-minded.
“I think even if you are Republican or you are Independent or you are Democratic, you should be able to see both sides,” Caro said.
The Republican candidate is widely assumed to be President Trump, but the Democratic candidacy is a tight race.
“Sen. Sanders is running pretty strongly,” Smith said. “He is likely to win with a plurality which means you finish first, but it’s not over 50 percent.”
Sen. Sanders cannot campaign in Iowa during this time due to the impeachment trial, but it does not seem like that will affect his sway at the caucus.
Smith believes there will also be a lot of discussion on who will finish second.
“I think there will be a lot of pushing to see whoever finishes second because if somebody doesn’t really break out and finishes strong second, the race could turn into a competition between Vice President Biden and Sen. Sanders very quickly,” Smith said.
Smith took students to the Iowa caucus in 2016 as well.
“It’s good, especially if you live in a caucus state, to see how the caucusing process works so that you can participate and know what you are doing,” Smith said.
Kansas is a caucus state, and Smith encourages students to also vote in the Kansas caucuses and other local elections.
“I tell students, ‘Vote in primaries. Vote in Caucuses. Vote in local elections,’” Smith said. “Don’t wait until November in presidential election years because the other elections often are the ones that carry the most weight.”
Haddix said she agrees that voting is an important part of being a citizen of the U.S.
“If you are passionate about making change in our country, then the best way to get involved is to just vote for someone who aligns with what you believe in because they’re representing you,” Haddix said.