After swinging from Obama to Trump, how will Howard County, Iowa, vote in 2020?

Iowa's Howard County looking for "outsider"

Last Updated Feb 3, 2020 9:28 AM EST

More than 200 counties nationwide voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election after voting for former President Barack Obama in 2012. One that swung dramatically was Howard County, Iowa, which voted for Mr. Obama by more than 20 points, before a 40-point swing and a landslide victory for Mr. Trump.

"What I've been hearing mainly is that he was an outsider," said Laura Hubka, the chair of the Democratic Party in Howard County, explaining why voters picked Mr. Trump.

Iowa voters will be casting the first-in-the-nation caucus votes for president Monday night, kicking off the primary season.

This year, Democratic contenders are hoping those swing voters are willing to swing back. But Hubka wasn't sure about some of the leading candidates.

"I don't think Howard County is going to play well for (Joe) Biden at all," Hubka told "CBS This Morning" co-host Tony Dokoupil. "He is the establishment, even though he's — knows all the world leaders and, you know — I don't think that means as much as somebody that's an outsider here."

Asked about Senator Bernie Sanders, who was tied with Biden with 25% support in Iowa in the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll, Hubka said some in Howard County worry about socialism.

"I don't know how he'll do in Iowa, but up here, a moderate candidate's going to do well," she said.

Three veterans Cindy Yslas, James Perry and Mike Yslas, who were calling out bingo numbers at the county fairgrounds, seemed to agree. They each voted for Mr. Obama in 2012, then switched to Mr. Trump in 2016 and now plan to switch back to a Democrat.

All three are leaning toward former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

"When Trump went to the office … he got rid of all the people I thought that were going to help him do what he needed to do. He fired the generals. He said he was smarter than generals. We're all retired military. We're not smarter than generals," Perry said.

Nearby, at the local UAW union hall was another disaffected Trump voter.

"Honestly, what really turned me off of him was just the way he is," said Sara Burke. "It's his behavior."

Like a lot of her neighbors, Burke is a fan of Buttigieg. "I just think as far as maybe trying to beat Trump, we need to get somebody else in the mix that wasn't kind of in that mix with the last election," she said.

Others, like farmer Barry Christensen, aren't sure if they'll swing back.

"It's possible," he said about voting Democrat. He said he's leaning Republican but not if the eventual Democratic nominee has a better plan for agriculture. 

"I don't know if anybody could be certain until you can evaluate both. I'm not going to say 'absolutely no matter who's on the other side, I am or am not going to vote for Donald Trump,'" he said.

Asked if he is a persuadable voter, Christensen said, "Absolutely."

At KCD's, a bar in Lime Springs, owner Vickie Ator warns Democrats may have hurt themselves with the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump.

"I think people are so sick of this and everything, that they're going to vote him back in no matter what," she said.

A quick survey of the bar patrons seemed to suggest she was right. Asked if they think Mr. Trump will win this year, almost everyone raised their hand.