Established in 2011, the Iowa Caucus Project boasts four cohorts of college students telling the story of the Iowa caucuses through experiencing the Iowa caucuses. Leading into the 2024 caucuses, we wanted to catch up with the 2020 Iowa Caucus Project staffers, tap into their wisdom, and see what stuck with them four years later.
Samantha Bayne was the Campus Engagement Team Lead for the 2020 Iowa Caucus Project. Samantha studied Law, Politics, & Society and Political Science at Drake University and currently works as a Senior Corporate Partnerships Associate at The Trevor Project.
Q: Four years after your participation in the project, what has stuck with you?
I really loved traveling around Iowa to attend candidate events in the lead-up to the 2020 caucuses. I met almost every one of the Democratic presidential candidates! It was an incredibly valuable experience to see the on-the-ground impact of federal policy. I particularly remember learning a lot at a Bernie Sanders press conference in Newton, where the Maytag factory closure had ripple effects throughout the town’s economy.
Q: Do you have an "only in Iowa" story? If so, what is it?
I ran into Kamala Harris at the Des Moines airport when I was traveling to a conference. She was so kind to me and spoke to me for over five minutes while we both waited for our flight. She listened intently to my story and even asked me for my opinions on her education plan. What the now-VP said to me then will stick with me forever: “You don’t need anyone’s permission to lead.” (Photo Credit: Samantha Bayne)
Other favorite stories include Bernie Sanders tweeting an article I wrote about voting rights and literally bumping into Anderson Cooper in Old Main (Photo Credit: Samantha Bayne).
Being in Iowa in Fall 2019 felt like a dream!
Q: What words of wisdom do you have for current Drake University students anticipating the 2024 Iowa precinct caucuses?
Make sure to take advantage of all of the very local and unique events! It may be tough losing your weekends to campaign rallies, but the experiences and the stories will stick with you forever. Don’t be afraid to get to the front of the crowd so you can ask a tough question or take a selfie. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for candidates, press, or even celebrities, especially when you’re at coffee shops or brunch restaurants. You never know when you’ll be in the right place at the right time!
Check out where the other 2020 Iowa Caucus Staffers are now here!