Economy could be key issue in Monday's Iowa Republican caucuses

Political Reporter Charles Benson is covering the Iowa caucuses and looks at a key issue in 2024 election
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 18:20:14-05

The Iowa Caucuses are Monday, January 15th - the first of many races that will determine who makes it to Milwaukee as the party's nominee for the Republican National Convention.

Political Reporter Charles Benson is covering the caucuses and looks at a key issue in 2024 election.

Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa, known as the Masterpiece on the Mississippi because of its scenic views with a river that separates Iowa from Wisconsin and Illinois.

It’s also a good place see how the economy is working in this city of 60,000.

Angela Lee knows what it’s like to run a small business - she has seen inflation drive up costs at The Spot Nutrition juice bar and has adjusted.

"The cost of doing business has gone up a little bit - we’ve had to go up in prices," said Lee.

Lee and her husband are also raising two children - she feels they are in a good place right now.

"Business is going well - we had a really good year last year."

Poll after poll point to the economy as a key issue in the 2024 election and it may play a role in who wins the Iowa caucuses Monday night.

The unemployment rate in Dubuque dropped last year - it’s now around 3% - that’s better than the national average of 3.7%.

Inflation and gas prices have come down but the cost of things are still expensive. Wages are up but so are interest rates.

Tut Fuller opened Capra Bank in his native hometown less than a year ago.

He’s seeing the impact of higher rates.

"Housing starts have been extremely slow, said Fuller. The mortgage industry is not doing a lot of mortgages right now and that’s not just in Dubuque, that’s all over."

Dubuque has a healthy dose of manufacturing jobs and tourism is important to the local economy, but like many cities it needs more help with childcare needs.

Fuller sees an economy that has bounced back from the pandemic.

"Yeah, borrowing costs are up a little bit, but I don’t know, I think it’s pretty healthy and resilient."

Dubuque County is more purple than red or blue in recent presidential elections. Barack Obama won here in 2008 and 2012. Donald Trump carried the county 2016 and 20.