DES MOINES, Iowa—Attendees at the Iowa State Fair are eager for change during the next presidential election. Many of the fairgoers lean to the right, The Daily Signal learned this week, and want a candidate that will focus on fixing the economy and strengthening the U.S. southern border.
Located right outside the state capital of Des Moines, the Iowa State Fair boasts of being “the single-largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country.” The event, which began in 1854, has drawn millions of attendees over the years and is particularly beloved by residents of the state.
The fair also draws presidential candidates. Last week, Republican candidates—among them, former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—attended the fair, where they spoke with voters, participated in fair activities, and sought to garner support for their campaigns.
Many of the Iowans attending the fair are well-versed in the politics of the nation, The Daily Signal found. The majority of those interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the American economy and a preference for new leadership.
“The country is kind of in bad hands at the moment,” an elderly gentleman attending the fair with his teenage granddaughter told The Daily Signal. “It needs to be spruced up.”
“I think either Trump or DeSantis would do well,” he added, regarding who the thought the best candidate for the job is. And asked whether they could tag-team the job, as some fairgoers suggested, he responded: “It’s possible. Nobody thinks of that, but if you go back and look at [Ronald] Reagan and [George] Bush, they fought against each other, but when the time came to pick the vice president, they were together. So, who knows.”
“Inflation has gone through the roof,” one Iowa farmer who sells beef told The Daily Signal. “It costs so much for anything anymore … the fuel for the tractors, fuel just for families. When the pipeline got shut down, fuel prices skyrocketed. I would say [President Joe Biden’s administration] has strongly negatively affected us. And I’m not saying it’s all the administration’s fault, but I think some of it, or a lot of it, could have been avoided.”
Who does he want to see in the White House? Most likely Trump, unless something changes: “The way he runs the country, I think he did an excellent job.”
A number of Iowa State Fair attendees also said that they want a candidate who stands for life.
“I’m pro-life, so that’s a huge issue for me,” an Iowa father told The Daily Signal. “School choice is a huge issue for me … . DeSantis is pretty good for pro-life, Trump used to be, but I don’t know if he is anymore. He seems to kind of wave like the wind of whoever is going to vote for him.”
A young mom stressed that she wants a candidate who values “life and making sure that even unborn children have the right to choose and have liberties.” She called for pro-life legislation that would help the U.S. protect the unborn and “prosper as a country.”
“I love Ron DeSantis,” her husband added. “I think what he has done in Florida has been great to watch, how he handled COVID and following the data, and how he has stood up against Disney, and how he has stood up against the prosecutors that are trying to push a woke agenda, I think he has done a great job showing some strong leadership. And I know not everyone’s going to agree with that, but those values are aligned with what I believe, and I’ve been really impressed by him.”
A few individuals did say they would likely vote for Biden. One female voter, whose main concern is that the president be “presidential and a good person,” said that Biden is the candidate who most embodies those qualities, noting that he is very “kind.”
Another left-leaning woman who described herself as “very pro-choice” said she doesn’t think Biden is the right man for the job.
“I think that maybe we should move to someone else,” she said. “Not necessarily a Republican, but we need a strong Democrat.”
The Daily Signal’s Virginia Allen asked voters which candidates were most likely to effectively secure the border. Most voters suggested that Trump was the man for the job, though several mentioned Scott, the senator from South Carolina.
Attendees also shared their thoughts on the four Trump indictments. Most of the fairgoers who supported Trump said that they thought the indictments were politically motivated and that legal processes would not affect their loyalty to the former president.
“I’d like to see him get back in,” another Iowan farmer who described himself as a “union man” told The Daily Signal with a grin, adding that the indictments “don’t really” affect how he plans to vote, since he will vote Republican in the next election.
“The Democrats, I voted for them back in the day, back in the ’70s,” he added. “I thought quite a bit of the Democrats, and I know a lot of other people that were union men, too, everybody voted for the Democrats. But I just don’t think they’ve done a whole lot to help us out. They say they are creating all these jobs but … I don’t know.”
A number of attendees questioned why the federal government is so closely investigating Trump while seemingly going easy on the Biden family.
“I guess I can’t see why there isn’t anything against Biden and Hunter Biden,” another man said. “It seems to be all one-sided. So, I don’t have a lot of confidence in what they’re doing.”
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