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Farms, faith, taxes: How 2020 Democrats are connecting with Iowa voters

"Where Did You Get This Number?" is a podcast going inside the 2020 presidential campaigns, with analysis from CBS News campaign embeds, polls and other stories from the 2020 race. Subscribe today!  

As Democratic presidential primary candidates court voters in Iowa less than 90 days from the caucuses, the focus has been on rural areas of the state and farmers who have been hit by President Trump's trade policies and climate change.

On this week's episode of the "Where Did You Get This Number?" podcast, host Anthony Salvanto talks with CBS News 2020 campaign reporter Adam Brewster about the challenges Iowa farmers face and how the Democratic candidates are connecting with residents of the state more broadly. 

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

Historic flooding and other extreme conditions linked to climate change have cost U.S. farmers over $7 billion in lost revenue this year. 

However, the main obstacle for farmers to adopt more sustainable practices are economic incentives. Some of the practices, such as planting cover crops in the winter to protect soil, would take years to yield profit. 

"Every penny they spend is something that they have to know that they can see an investment on," Brewster said. "And so providing some of these incentives and payments for these environmental practices, the idea is you can get more farmers involved in fighting climate change."

Brewster cited former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as candidates who have set up the most local campaign offices around Iowa ahead of the caucuses February 3. 

Buttigieg in particular has been rising in the Iowa polls, despite surveys that show voters are not overwhelmingly in favor of a younger candidate or a Washington outsider.

"One of the things you often hear is that some people say [Buttigieg] is just a breath of fresh air," Brewster said. "People walk away being very impressed typically with how Mayor Pete Buttigieg handles those questions thrown at him" at Iowa events.

Brewster said Buttigieg, the youngest Democratic candidate in the 2020 field, has consistently drawn large crowds at his events, and voters have been impressed with Buttigieg's emphasis on his faith.

"Iowa is a heavily Christian state, and there are people here — Democrats here who I've heard say, 'We have felt forgotten,'" Brewster said, adding that many Iowa Democrats have been "longing" for a candidate who speaks openly to them about faith. 

Brewster is interested in Bernie Sanders' upcoming trip to Iowa with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for several climate conversations and town halls in Council Bluffs, Des Moines and Coralville.

"[Bernie] has a lot of people here who still really support him," Brewster said. "It'll be interesting to see how much he can build that out."

Subscribe to "Where Did You Get This Number?" and download the latest episode to learn more about the rural vote in Iowa, how Buttigieg has increased his support in the state, the role of faith in the 2020 race, and differing perspectives on health care.

The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotify, Art19, or wherever you get your podcasts. Full transcript is available here.

Host: Anthony Salvanto, Director of Elections and Surveys at CBS News  

Guest: CBS News 2020 Campaign Reporter Adam Brewster

Production Team: Rachel Armany, Maeve Burke, Jake Rosen, Allen Peng

Twitter: @WDYGTN

Instagram: @getthisnumber 

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