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July 27, 2011

The Picture from Iowa, 2012: The Bachmann Versus Pawlenty Voter

With another Iowa marathon come those perennial questions: How representative is Iowa, and why should the Hawkeye Buckeye State have the first shot at shaping the presidential field? Photographer Brendan Hoffman is in Iowa leading up to the Ames Straw Poll on August 13th. We’ll be following him and looking at what his photos suggest about the candidates, Campaign ‘12 and the current political climate.

In the meantime, some specific questions: How representative are these photos? do you think the similarity is just random? and, do you sense any difference between the Bachmann and the Pawlenty voter?

PHOTOGRAPHS by Brendan Hoffman/Prime Collective – Campaign Tumblr Site.

Follow all the posts in this series at: The Picture from Iowa, 2012.

(caption 1: Attendees at a town hall meeting held by Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann on Saturday, July 23, 2011 in Marshalltown, IA. caption 2: A man listens to Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty at a campaign stop on Thursday, July 21, 2011 in Webster City, IA.)

About the Photographer

Brendan Hoffman

Brendan Hoffman (b. Albany, NY, 1980) is a photographer based in Washington, DC. He began his career in 2007 after working at a desk for several years in the non-profit sector. He divides his time between client and personal work. Assignments often involve covering news and politics for publications such as TIME magazine or the New York Times. His personal projects reflect his interest in the ways in which economic and political structures shape modern society. His ongoing project “Stand the Middle Ground” is an exploration of contemporary middle class America in the context of free trade and the decline of manufacturing in a small Iowa town. Brendan has received awards for his photography from Pictures of the Year International, the White House News Photographers Association, and other organizations. He has worked in a variety of countries for both editorial and NGO clients, and is a co-founder of Prime. See more of Brendan's work for BagNews here.

  • nemo

    Sorry to be an internet ass but Ohio is the Buckeye State.

  • Matt

    That would be the “Hawkeye” State.  Buckeyes are a few states to the East of Iowa

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      Hmm, and I looked it up and everything. Gotta do something about these late nights. Thanks.

  • Matt

    That would be the “Hawkeye” State.  Buckeyes are a few states to the East of Iowa

  • bks

    Christian terrorists.

        –bks

  • black dog barking

    Fool’s fools, the three of them. From King Lear:

    FoolIf thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’ld have thee beaten
    for being old before thy time.KING LEARHow’s that?FoolThou shouldst not have been old till thou hadstbeen wise.

  • black dog barking

    (Reformatting the Shakespeare quote for legibility)

    Fool

    If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’ld have thee beaten
    for being old before thy time.KING LEAR
    How’s that?Fool
    Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst
    been wise.

    • black dog barking

      (Still reformatting. Preview would be nice.)

      Fool
      If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’ld have thee beaten
      for being old before thy time.KING LEAR
      How’s that?Fool
      Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst
      been wise.

  • Stella

    Well, of course the eyeglasses indicate faulty vision.  My assumption about all these people is that they are probably republican voters – the couple most likely because of their religion, the gentleman as a member of an authoritarian generation.  The crossed arms say they are not very receptive to what they’re hearing.

    • Laurelsmthome

      Their body language shouts discontent. Is that what Bachmann and Pawlenty are tapping into, or are these people just plain miserable? For me, both pictures reflect what is happening with the current issues, the crossed arms, turning away from moving forward and expressions that say “you can’t make me”. What a sad way to live and a terrible way to run a county.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MTIPO5QKCXPJNWLQIAUAXRMX2U JOHN

    When the 1970’s were in full swing, there were only three kinds of people who did not leave Iowa:  those with lots of farmland, those who had legacy businesses waiting for them (farm suppliers, grocers, hardware, law firms, banks, etc,), and those who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the state. Essentially, that trend has continued for the last forty years, leaving us with people like the ones pictured here to decide who our future political leaders should be.  It’s a bad deal for the USA, but a great industry for Iowa.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MTIPO5QKCXPJNWLQIAUAXRMX2U JOHN

    When the 1970’s were in full swing, there were only three kinds of people who did not leave Iowa:  those with lots of farmland, those who had legacy businesses waiting for them (farm suppliers, grocers, hardware, law firms, banks, etc,), and those who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the state. Essentially, that trend has continued for the last forty years, leaving us with people like the ones pictured here to decide who our future political leaders should be.  It’s a bad deal for the USA, but a great industry for Iowa.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    One thing I was trying to do with these questions is to force us to consider the pictures and these individuals beyond the stereotypes. Whereas many would see no difference at all between these people (and I have no problem if you relate to them that way (because “them” certainly applies along all kinds of dimensions … plus any time bdb quotes Shakespeare, I’m down), I think it’s also important for us to really look at these pictures, and people, beyond the instinct to type them, to — just for one thing that comes to mind — really consider why such similar-looking conservatives could be “so different” (as clear and early “committeds”) in ardently supporting a T-Paw, for example, over a Bachmann, and vice-versa. 

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    One thing I was trying to do with these questions is to force us to consider the pictures and these individuals beyond the stereotypes. Whereas many would see no difference at all between these people (and I have no problem if you relate to them that way (because “them” certainly applies along all kinds of dimensions … plus any time bdb quotes Shakespeare, I’m down), I think it’s also important for us to really look at these pictures, and people, beyond the instinct to type them, to — just for one thing that comes to mind — really consider why such similar-looking conservatives could be “so different” (as clear and early “committeds”) in ardently supporting a T-Paw, for example, over a Bachmann, and vice-versa. 

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CRMOF34AMDNSN5CEBGJXD2OUGM Wayne

    Both Pawlenty and Bachmann are like 2 farts in a church….neither one belongs there!

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Judging from the phenotypes in that first picture- they’re certainly not very representative of most Americans I know…

  • Hariman

    I spent many years in Iowa, and I think I can say that these photos capture a sad state of affairs.  Iowans, including Iowa Republicans, pride themselves on being thoughtful, deliberative citizens who will carefully assess any candidate or policy, yet at the same time they can be slaves to provincialism, ideology, and dreadful media sources.  So they will earnestly sit around discussing death panels, or declare that it’s a matter of high moral principle for the US to default on its debt.  And if the powers that be on the right say that the choice for president should be between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, well, by gum, they’ll give that real serious consideration, no matter the alternatives or the consequences.  

  • Anonymous

    While looking only at the first photo, I fascinated by the relationship between the man and the woman. Both are in very defensive postures, and her lips are pursed. He’s got his back partially turned on her. She’s wearing a wedding ring. Are they husband and wife? Have they lost that loving feeling or had a spat? Is she supporting a different candidate?

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in Iowa, and although the Iowa I knew and loved 35 years ago was populated by people who were mostly pragmatic, self-deprecating, and sensible, there was always an ugly fringe – people so judgmental and harsh that they were downright scary. A friend of mine encountered a doctor who performed a minor surgical procedure on her without anesthesia because he mistakenly believed that she’d had an abortion; I found myself at the mercy of a nurse who refused to care for my newborn infant because she (again, mistakenly) believed that I wasn’t married. In those days there didn’t seem to be enough of them to wield any real power – Chuck Grassley was about as conservative a representative as you’d have found. But something nasty has happened there in the last decade or so. Now there are enough of them to put Steve King in the House, and they find Michele Bachmann inspiring.

    I don’t think you can tell who’s who by looking. I suspect that the Pawlenty supporter is a retired farmer – he has that weathered look about him, and farmers have been beaten up pretty badly by events over the last three decades. The Bachmann supporters look to me like conservative church-goers from one of Iowa’s towns or cities – they don’t appear to have worked in the sun, and they have that familiar lip-pursed expression of priggish disapproval.

    • Momly

      Awesome post, TopCathy; although I confess to being a bit confused when I got to Steve King – I read it as Stephen King and thought, “Of all people, HE would know what went bad in Iowa!”

      I think he could have another best selling book here…..

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Sorry for the trouble. Disqus does provide preview, though. (One of the reasons we switched over.) You do see an “edit” button right next to the “reply” button after you’ve published the comment, no? (Please email me to discuss further.)

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