Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.


Iowa voters will influence the Democratic presidential campaign in an outsize way Monday night

Share two facts or quotes from news coverage of an Iowa campaign event, poll or voter interviews.
Now do the same for a feature article about a caucus sidelight, such as business impact, young volunteers or Iowa culture.
What's your reaction, briefly, to an opinion column, editorial or cartoon related to presidential politics? Is it clear? Stimulating?

After months of campaigning, debates and candidate withdrawals, it's time for citizens to go beyond yard signs, rallies and donations. The first votes of the 2020 presidential race are Monday night in Iowa, where statewide meetings called caucuses will determine which Democratic candidates get delegates at July's national nominating convention in Milwaukee. (Forty-one are at stake Monday, about one percent of the convention total.) Going first gives the small state a big impact in reducing the number of candidates competing to run against the Republican president in November. Each caucus (pronounced CAW-cuss) in one of 1,678 gyms, churches, libraries and schools across Iowa will involve open discussion and several rounds of voting in a complex process described by The New York Times: "Each location executes a complicated choreography in which hundreds of people migrate around a room to aggregate in their candidate's corner. Their presence is their vote."

Turnout is likely to be high, even though caucuses take much longer than casting a primary ballot on a touch screen or paper. The Iowa Democratic Party has been preparing for record-high participation, driven partly by dislike of President Donald Trump and partly by the unusually large set of candidates. Registration is allowed on caucus day, so attendance could be swelled by independent voters and even some Republicans. State party chairman Troy Price anticipates more caucus-goers than in 2008, which set a record when 239,000 Democratic voters participated and Barack Obama won.

Doing well in Iowa and then in New Hampshire's primary Feb. 11 adds timely momentum for some politicians and can end or weaken other campaigns. "They serve as a slingshot for candidates to move on to other states, and as a funnel that winnows down big fields," posts journalism instructor Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are generally seen as leading the pack now.

Sen. Warren of Massachusetts is endorsed by The Des Moines Register, the state's biggest newspaper, which says she's "tough and compassionate, pushing unequal America in the right direction." Elsewhere in the state, former Vice President Biden earned editorial backing last week from the Sioux City Journal, which said he "combines respect from both sides of the aisle and the political and personal skills necessary to unite conflicting positions behind common-ground solutions to complex issues." Politico, a respected national news site, suggests: "For Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, high turnout in the Iowa caucuses may be their only chance."

Voter says: "If you don't vote you have no say. How can you complain if you didn’t participate?" – Dave Scott of Bettendorf, Iowa

Caucus 'nuance:' "It is not an election. It is an attempt to choose the most viable candidates, not to vote for one person to be nominated. That nuance is lost in media reports." – Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute journalism coach

Columnist says: "The 2020 cycle should be the last time that Iowa and New Hampshire benefit at the country's expense. ... Iowa and New Hampshire are among the country's whitest states … [and] are not home to a single city of more than 250,000 people. The two states also have a disproportionately large share of retirees and a smaller share of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s." – David Leonhardt, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2020
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