By Rebecca Heilweil
The battle for the future of the Democratic Party might seem like it's being waged on Twitter and primetime television debates, but it's often the results of the Iowa primary caucuses that predict the Democratic presidential nominee.
That's why — despite a national debate over how far left the Democratic party should move — the chair of the Iowa Democrats says it's his state's voters who could direct the future of the party.
"What I hear is a debate about what direction our party should go. And that's really what's — again — great about this process," Iowa Democratic Party head Troy Price told Cheddar on Monday. "'It's a conversation that's happening neighbor to neighbor, person to person. It's what's happening between the candidates, and what's happening with caucus-goers."
"I think this primary will prove which direction the party wants to go," he said.
Price argues that Iowa's primary process — known as a caucus — sets it apart from other states by asking voters to debate campaign issues with friends and family in a public space. For candidates, he says, "it's a different ask. It's a higher-level ask that requires building a stronger relationship with your supporters.'
Price said that healthcare, job creation, and education remain key issues for Iowa Democrats. He explained that the stability of rural hospitals, which are some of the state's least-populated areas' largest employers, is on the minds of some Iowa voters.
Climate change is also a major concern, he said.
"Here in Iowa, we have seen, over the course of the last six months, we've seen both sides of our state get swamped by floodwaters on the Missouri and Mississippi River[s]," Price said, adding that the state's farmers lost $2 billion this year to flooding.
While candidates are actively campaigning in Iowa, RealClearPolitics' polling average places Vice President Joe Biden as the clear frontrunner in the state.
"Certainly, the vice president has a strong operation here. He ran here in 1987 and 2007, so he's got some deep roots here. He starts with a base of support that a lot of candidates wish they could have," Price said.
But, with six months to go, it's still anyone's game.
"The race is starting to settle up a little bit, but I still think there's plenty of time for candidates to pop up," Price said. "There's a lot of life cycles left in the course of this campaign and we'll see how it all plays out."