DES MOINES, Iowa (NewsNation) — The Iowa Caucus is just about 15 weeks away, and voters across the state say the economy and border security are their biggest priorities when choosing between this crop of presidential candidates.
NewsNation convened a focus group, moderated by Chris Stirewalt, in Des Moines made up of 10 Iowa voters as an opportunity to spend one-on-one time learning what motivates their vote.
For Iowa voter Ronald McFarland, there’s no place like Iowa State University. He was inspired to play Cyclone football by the school’s first black athlete, Jack Trice.
“I would pretend that he was my brother, and I would lay down and look at his picture for motivation,” McFarland said.
And he excelled on the field. Now, the all-American spends his retirement years back in Ames, Iowa, the place where his Republican views took root.
Crime and family values concern McFarland, but he said the economy is top of mind this election season.
Gas prices, eggs and all kinds of foods have been unseasonably high for most Americans due to inflation, McFarland explained.
Like McFarland, Iowa voter Marie Kline ranked the economy as her top concern.
As a registered Independent, Kline is a bit of a rare find in Iowa’s capital city.
”I can’t find a Democrat who has a conservative thought anymore. And that makes me really sad. Because I know there are good people out there. But I just don’t agree with them philosophically anymore,” Kline said.
Strong borders also ranks high on Kline’s list of top concerns.
“Immigration affects everybody no matter where it’s happening. And that’s because when the federal government pays for things. I think some people forget; the federal government has no money. It’s tax money,” Kline said.
McFarland and Kline joined eight other informed voters to talk about issues and the candidates in an engaging round table, where they discussed which GOP candidates are breaking through to them. Most of the voters in the focus group seemed to be keeping their options open so far.