Purdue Alumnus FA20 web - Flipbook - Page 45
INSIDE AN ELECTION
How did your experience with C-SPAN in
Iowa impact your plans to be involved in
the political process moving forward?
This trip showed me that I like working in a media
setting — especially on the production side — writing
and working to get things out to the public. It really
cemented my desire to do a C-SPAN internship in
Washington, DC, next summer. I love their reason for
doing what they do. They’ve remained the only nonpartisan voice through the years.
C-SPAN changed my whole outlook on how personal
national politics can really be. Iowans were not starstruck seeing these national figures. It wasn’t out of
the ordinary. This experience helped show that a lot of
the divisiveness in politics could go away if people just
talked to each other and were actually able to interact
with their elected officials. I still believe that politics is
done at the grassroots level.
R E B ECC A M CE L H O E (L A’16 )
What surprised you about
The most surprising thing was how engaged the voters of Iowa are. I was with the C-SPAN crew at a Tom
Steyer event at a microbrewery on Super Bowl Sunday, and the place was packed with people standing
outside — all for a candidate that most people knew
wouldn’t win. The voters felt comfortable interacting
with candidates and people from C-SPAN. You could
tell they had done this before.
As someone who watches TV and politics a lot, I tend
to forget that politicians are people as well. When I
attended these rallies, it was surprising to see how
short or tall different candidates looked on TV compared to in person. Appearances really are everything.
Candidates tended to use a lot of symbolism to convey
a different image of themselves on TV from what it
was in reality.
What surprised me most was the amount of activity
and dedication that goes into campaigning. I knew
beforehand that a candidate’s schedule is grueling, but
seeing it in person emphasized how difficult it really is.
What’s the difference between a primary and a caucus?
In a caucus, attendees are able to hear from different campaigns. Rather than voting individually via secret ballot,
neighbors try to convince neighbors to join their campaign.
Caucuses are also unique because political parties run
them, rather than the state.
PUR D U E A LU MN I . O RG
IOWA: MAKING POLITICS
Connie Doebele knew she had made the right choice to join
the team at C-SPAN after a phone call came in from Hanover,
Kansas — a short drive from her hometown.
“Brian Lamb (LA’63) was interviewing
the publisher of the New York Times,
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and Howell Raines,
the editorial page editor,” recalls Doebele.
“The call was pretty non-exciting, but it
made the connection for me.”
That moment showed Doebele what
is so special about C-SPAN’s mission of
connecting the American electorate with
the political process in an open, unedited format. Today, Doebele is the managing director of the Center for C-SPAN
Scholarship & Engagement (CCSE),
housed within the Brian Lamb School of
Communication at Purdue.
Established in 2017 between presidential election cycles, the center had
its first opportunity to involve students
in a presidential campaign in 2020. With
relative proximity to campus, Iowa was a
“If we had taken these students to,
let’s say, a primary in New York, that
wouldn’t have been the same kind
of experience,” says Doebele. “There’s
something about these small gatherings
in Iowa where people get together and
Why are there multiple rounds of voting? What happens from one
round to the next?
In Iowa, if a candidate doesn’t achieve viability — meaning at least 15%
support — the candidate is dropped. A second round is held without
candidates unable to achieve viability. If a caucus-goer’s first choice
drops out after the first round, they are free to join another campaign.
FA L L 2020