Iowa's economy stronger than other states


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    A supporter of Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry places campaign ads outside the Hotel Pattee before an event on January 2, 2012 in Perry, Iowa.

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    People wait to see republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum during a campaign event at the Pizza Ranch restaurant in Boone, Iowa, on January 2, 2012.

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    A policeman detains a protestor from 'occupy Iowa caucuses' outside the Des Moines home base of Republican White House hopeful Michele Bachmann in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 31, 2011.

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    Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney kisses newlywed Alison Banwart of West Bend, Iowa, as her new husband Seth Banwart looks on during a campaign event at the Stoney Creek Inn December 31, 2011 in Sioux City, Iowa.

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    Lynn Ridenour displays his hat, signed by Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, at Junction Sports Bar & Grill on January 1, 2012 in Marshalltown, Iowa.

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    A supporter of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney holds campaign signs outside a restaurant where Romney met with voters in Atlantic, Iowa, on January 1, 2012.

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    Volunteers get dinner at Newt Gingrich's Iowa headquarters on January 1, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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    Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sits with his sons Craig Romney and Josh Romney, his wife Ann Romney and Sen. John Thune on his campaign bus after a rally at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds January 2, 2012 in Davenport, Iowa.

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    Gary Turpin of Le Claire, Iowa, gets a little help with his hat from his wife of 43 years, Sandi Turpin, before a rally with former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds January 2, 2012 in Davenport, Iowa.

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    Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks with supporter Bonnie Gibbs of Bettendorf, Iowa, during a rally at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds January 2, 2012 in Davenport, Iowa.

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    Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney heads back to his bus after a campaign rally at Pate Asphalt January 2, 2012 in Marion, Iowa.

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    Supporters of former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cheer for him during a rally at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds January 2, 2012 in Davenport, Iowa.

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    Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep Ron Paul signs autographs for supporters after a campaign event during his 'Whistle-stop' tour at the Steeple Gate inn in January 2, 2012 in Davenport, Iowa.

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    Former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Weber Paper Company January 2, 2012 in Dubuque, Iowa.

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    Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tours a display of tractors at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center on January 2, 2012 in Independence, Iowa.

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    Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry speaks at the Hotel Pattee on January 2, 2012 in Perry, Iowa.

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    Robert Cushman, left, listens to his grand father, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, as he speaks at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center on January 2, 2012 in Independence, Iowa.

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    Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul speaks during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 2, 2012.

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    Supporters of republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul leave after a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 2, 2012.

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    Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann waves to supporters from Taylor High School in Cincinatti, Ohio, on January 2, 2012 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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    Republican presidential candidate former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign rally at the Hotel Pattee on January 2, 2012 in Perry, Iowa.

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    Supporters of republican presidential hopeful U.S. Rep Ron Paul wear t-shirts that spell out 'PAUL' during a campaign stop at the Park Place Event Center on January 2, 2012 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

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    Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters during a campaign rally at Pate Asphalt January 2, 2012 in Marion, Iowa.

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    Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann dances with supporters from Taylor High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 2, 2012 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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Stacey Vanek Smith: Central time will take center stage this evening -- presidential caucuses begin in Iowa. This is just a first step in the long nominating process but it does set the tone for the race -- both politically and financially.

Wayne Moyer teaches political science at Grinnell College in Iowa. Good morning, professor!

Wayne Moyer: Good morning.

Smith: Professor Moyer, supporters of the Iowa caucus say one advantage of the caucus is that it gives less wealthy candidates a chance -- that they can challenge candidates with deeper pockets because the Iowa race is more about meeting with people, shaking hands -- that kind of thing. Is that true?

Moyer: Yes, I think that it is. The nature of the state is such that the smaller population and the less need for television advertising -- which is very expensive -- it does give candidates a chance who don't have quite the resources that others do.

Particularly say, with Rick Santorum, who didn't have very much money; who's rising very rapidly in the polls right now. And he spent, I think, something like 100 days in Iowa, and he would not have been able to do that in a larger state. He wouldn't have had the same kind of impact.

Smith: Now Iowa has its own particular economy -- it's got quite a low unemployment rate, and it's also a very rural state and it's been a good few years for farmers. How is Iowa's economy factoring into the race right now?

Moyer: I don't think that it is making a great deal of difference. I think that the people in Iowa are looking at the national situation as much as they're looking at the Iowa situation. I mean, we still have an unemployment rate of 6 percent, which is still pretty high. I haven't been able to tell how it's helping candidates or hurting candidates per se.

Smith: Wayne Moyer is a professor of political science at Grinnell College in Iowa. Professor Moyer, thank you.

Moyer: Thank you.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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