Iowa caucuses becomes classroom for group of USF students

All eyes are on Iowa as candidates for the Democratic presidential nominee make their final campaign pushes ahead of the caucuses Monday, and a University of South Florida professor and five students will be there to see it all first-hand.

FOX 13 spoke with them before they hopped on a plane Friday for Des Moines.

“I'm excited to see public officials in person because this will be my first time seeing true government in action, I guess,” said USF student Asia Anderson.

The students will conduct research surveys about what voters think of the front-runners and their campaigns. The Iowa caucuses are the first chance for Democratic voters to reveal who they want to face President Trump.

“A lot of the people we're going to be talking to, who are going to be taking these field surveys are going to be attending the events, so they are the party activists, they are the most attuned to what's going on,” said Joshua Scacco, the USF assistant professor of communication.

Scacco said they will gather demographics, voting patterns, and how people connect to the candidates. They hope their analysis will shed light on how the primaries turn out back home.

“What we are learning in Iowa will be directly applicable to thinking about what might come here in Florida as well,” said Scacco.

And they hit the ground running on Friday, getting to work at campaign events for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

“I’m very interested to see how open-minded the voters are this year because I think this election is a very big turning point,” said Anderson.

So while the group has work to do, they plan to soak it all in, too.

“I would love to be able to meet some candidates as well and potentially get some selfies, pictures, all that,” said Aldo Carlo Puccini, a graduate from USF.

The group is working on the project with research students from three other colleges across the country. They will observe the Iowa caucuses Monday then come back on Tuesday.