1st Edition

Inside the Bubble Campaigns, Caucuses, and the Future of the Presidential Nomination Process

By Barbara Trish, William Menner Copyright 2022
    182 Pages
    by Routledge

    182 Pages
    by Routledge

    Inside the Bubble: Campaigns, Caucuses, and the Future of the Presidential Nomination Process is a behind-the-scenes look at the 2020 Democratic nomination process focusing on the Iowa caucuses and the campaign workers who located there. For decades, Iowa held the first contest in the presidential nomination process and individuals interested in campaign work considered it a "holy grail." But in 2020, a record number of Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump – and the hundreds of young campaign workers who located to Iowa – created a political event unmatched in scope and scale. Those workers, embedded in the caucus bubble, focused for months on finding supporters for their candidate and ensuring they attended their precinct event – the first step in selecting delegates to the national convention. And then Caucus Day came, and with it a technology-driven fiasco that seemed to foreshadow a year of pandemic and protest. The lessons learned in 2020 underscored the importance of local staff who organize and mobilize supporters for a candidate in whom they believe. And those lessons are applicable to any race of any party in any state. For students of US politics as well as aspiring candidates, political journalists, and campaign professionals, this book captures the drama and human perspective of campaigns and elections in America.


    List of Abbreviations

    Chapter 1: One Year Out

    Chapter 2: The Promised Land

    Chapter 3: Setting Up Shop

    Chapter 4: Summertime

    Chapter 5: New Again

    Chapter 6: The Party Umbrella

    Chapter 7: Doubling Down

    Chapter 8: Engagement and Economics

    Chapter 9: The Final Stretch

    Chapter 10: Caucuses, Chaos and Coronavirus

    Chapter 11: The Shadow of 2020





    Barbara Trish is Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.  She directs the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.  

    Bill Menner is a consultant on rural development and rural health.  He was a White House appointee within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and previously worked as a public radio political reporter. 

    Praise for Inside the Bubble: Campaigns, Caucuses, and the Future of the Presidential Nomination Process 

    “I’ve covered 10 Iowa caucuses and made more than 60 trips to the state—and still I learned something on nearly every page. Memo to 2024 campaign reporters: Don’t  even think about flying into Des Moines or Cedar Rapids without a copy of this book in your baggage.”

    David Shribman, Pulitzer winning political columnist 

    “This book is an invaluable resource for political journalists trying to make sense of the Iowa caucuses. This account makes the caucuses, with all their arcane rules and quirky traditions, accessible and compelling, told from the vantage point of the staffers who make them happen.”

    Melanie Mason, Political Reporter, Los Angeles Times

    “Through the window of 2020 Iowa caucus, Inside the Bubble views the various players (candidates, surrogates, staffers, consultants, contractors, journalists, activists, voters, and technologies) and the politics of the 2020 presidential nomination campaign.  Students of campaign politics, as well as their recent and aspiring participants, will benefit from this excellent in-depth examination of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of campaigns and its vignettes about the personal experiences of its players.” 

    Paul A. Beck, Ohio State University (Emeritus)

    “This really well-written book captures the drama and importance of the Iowa caucuses – and of U.S. presidential campaigns more generally. It would be a great choice for classes on campaigns, elections, political parties, and electoral politics. My students love to hear about young people’s experiences in politics and campaigns, which then open their minds to understanding American politics.”

    Marjorie R. Hershey, Indiana University (Emerita)

    "Inside the Bubble explains the incredible complexities and nuance of the first presidential nominating contest, specifically the 2020 Iowa caucus, in accessible and easy-to-understand terms. By heavily incorporating the voices of campaign staffers, this book presents a unique, engaging, and human perspective on the Iowa Caucus."

    Jimmy Dahman, Former Campaign Staffer, Biden for President, Pete for America