“Use your vote when you have it”: Local Iowa Democrat turns out to Republican caucuses

Nikki Haley Pre-Caucus Event

By Payton Cavanaugh, WEBN Reporter

While the results from the 2024 Iowa Caucuses reflected former president Donald Trump’s landslide victory, they also showed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis leading for second, and Nikki Haley’s race for third. 

Just days before the caucuses, Haley held an event at a local venue, vying for votes and appealing to a significant demographic — the youth.

While the event was bustling with avid Haley supporters, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one young man, not sporting Nikki Haley merchandise, or holding up signs. He was standing in the corner, simply surveying the scene. 

Ethan Hughes, born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is no stranger to the events of the Iowa Caucuses. In fact– he finds the caucuses to be of the utmost importance in allowing Iowans to truly get to know the people who end up getting their votes. 

“I think it humanizes them and it’s a bit harder to feel angry at someone when you see them live,” said Hughes, “You realize they’re a real human being and not some big bad enemy or hero of some sort, they are just a person who decided they wanted to change the country.”

Hughes spoke to the importance of hearing out Republican candidates ahead of the caucus, no matter your political party. 

“I’m going to a caucus with Republicans because there’s no Democrat caucus… I want someone who can be a competent leader with reasonable policies,” said Hughes.

Hughes went on to say he would likely vote for Haley, though he outlined his disagreements with her policies. Her stance on the LGBTQ+ community, and her recent comment in New Hampshire on the Civil War, among some of his biggest disagreements. 

Hughes, a self-identifying Democrat, finds it of the utmost importance to caucus with republicans to have your voice heard and counted. 

“It’s a vote for democracy, and I can’t caucus for the Democrats,” said Hughes, “I’ll vote for the candidate who’s closer to my side. It’s not a perfect choice, there is never going to be a perfect candidate, but I can vote for someone who I believe at least will be a competent leader.”

Hughes recognizes that any candidate he backs is apt to be flawed and claims he is ultimately searching for competency.

“It’s worth turning out to vote no matter who you vote for, be part of the system, be part of change, be part of improving this country,” said Hughes, “Democracy is the best system and it might produce a leader who won’t work all the time and policies that you don’t like but it gives you the ability to change it and that’s why you vote… You volunteer to try and change minds, but the most important thing is to use your vote when you have it.”