With the presidential elections next year, the eyes are now on Iowa. With many Republicans and Democrats announcing their campaigns, receiving donations, and spending money on marketing, it’s time to collect public opinion on those politicians.
On Thursday, Aug. 31, The Dole Institute Student Advisory Board hosted Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register Chief Politics Reporter, a University of Kansas, and a Daily Kansan Alumni. Party on the Patio, also known as Partio, is an event thrown every year and is held at the Dole Institute.
During the event, Brianne explained the importance of the Iowa Caucus and her position as the Chief Politics Reporter at the Des Moines Register.
A caucus is where local political party members register their preferences among candidates running for office. According to Pfannenstiel, The Iowa Caucus is vital since it’s a proving ground for many Republican presidential candidates; it can serve as a campaign launchpad or as their crash site.
The Des Moines Register follows presidential candidates within Iowa and gets as much information as possible from each campaign to give each campaign equal coverage.
In an afterword, Pfannenstiel said, “I loved my time at KU, and I was excited to be invited back, I think the Dole Institute does great work, and I think the presidential election is really interesting right now, but it takes a while for people to tune in, I think we had that moment with the first debate. I find this stuff so interesting, so I’m always excited to talk about it, especially journalism students I feel strongly about welcoming the next generation into this career path.”
When asked if there was anything to say to students who may not be as interested in politics, Pfannenstiel said “I still think it’s important to be an engaged citizen and an engaged voter, and that doesn’t mean you have to follow the ins and outs of the political horse race. That can be very overwhelming, especially with many of our politics today. If you need to tap out for a while, I think it’s okay. Ensure you become an informed voter in time to participate. All kinds of great resources are available through the media, through organizations like the Dole Institute to help people understand the issues.”
“People might feel that politics doesn’t apply to you, but that can also be perhaps you’re not seeing how it applies to you. Politics dictates policy, which affects everyone’s lives. So I would challenge people to find how they’re being affected by public policy, start at that level, and think about how they can get involved and change that conversation,” Pfannenstiel said.
Throughout the event, Pfannenstiel answered questions about the current Republican presidential candidates, their standing among their voters, and her experiences covering the Scott Walker and the Donald Trump campaigns in 2016.
Students enjoyed dinner on the Dole Institute lawn at the event while the guest was questioned and later asked questions by the students after the event, students later enjoyed free Dole Whip.
The mission of the Dole Institute of Politics is to “promote political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bi-partisan, balanced manner.” Through events similar to Party at the Patio, the Dole Institute provides a forum for discussing political and economic issues, fostering public service leadership, and encouraging participation in the political process. The University of Kansas offers a unique opportunity for outreach to young people and students to get involved.
Samantha Sieben, a senior studying strategic communications, was happy to hear from an experienced University graduate.
“Brianne had some interesting insights, It’s cool to get someone on the ground in Iowa and has the experience she has. It’s awesome that we could host her here and that she’s a KU alumni who still wants to return. I think it was a great success,” Sieben said.