A couple from Grinnell have collaborated on a book about the 2020 Iowa Caucuses that’s focused on the frantic and sometimes pioneering activities of the staff from presidential campaigns. Co-author Barbara Trish, a political science professor at Grinnell College, said it’s tough work.
“These are the people who do the nuts-and-bolts of the campaign work these days and they’re the people we really don’t hear much about,” Trish told Radio Iowa. “They’re doing the heavy lifting of democracy, that’s one way we think about it, and so I think it makes sense to know what they’re doing, but also — depending on your take on this — to celebrate the work that they do.” T
Trish said the essay she wrote in 1988 to earn her doctorate was about campaign staff.
“At that time I started thinking about what sort of life these staff live,” Trish said, “and then, over time, especially as we’ve been in Iowa and had an up close view of things, it took on added importance.”
Trish’s husband, William Menner, is co-author of the book, which is titled “Inside the Bubble.” He described the staff members featured in it as compelling real-life characters.
“You get to see how hard they work and you get to see how difficult their lives can be, although they’re all in, so to speak, with their campaigns,” Menner said. “…I don’t think I realized fully what all goes into being a local campaign staffer when all you’re really thinking about is getting people to sign a ‘commit to Caucus’ card and then show up on Caucus Night and caucus for your candidate.”
The software error that delayed reporting of the results of the 2020 Iowa Caucuses has given more fodder to those who argue Iowa should no longer be the first event in the presidential nominating season. Menner said, to him, the book shows Iowa is a rational place to start the process.
“I’d hope that people, when they read it, say to themselves: ‘It’s not as crazy as I thought it was,'” Menner told Radio Iowa.
The book has been published in paperback by Routledge, a British company founded in 1836 that is one of the world’s leading textbook publishers.