Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET on January 20, 2020.
WHAT CHEER, Iowa—Don’t let the name fool you: What Cheer is a dreary little town. Other than the gas station, the most notable place in the city is an old building that apparently used to house the What Cheer Telephone Company, whatever that was. Today, cheap white curtains are drawn across the windows. It looks like someone is living there.
John Delaney is here at dusk on a Friday night in January because he’s still running for president. Did you know he was running for president? Probably not. If you did once know—Delaney was actually the first Democrat to declare his candidacy, way back in July 2017—you probably forgot. And if you did know he was still running, the question you’re probably asking is the one I am here to explore: Why? Why is a candidate who’s barely registering in any poll still traipsing across Iowa day after day when he has absolutely no chance of winning, or even of seeming like more than an outlying blip on the radar?
Today began with an event at a pizza place in the small central-Iowa city of Montezuma, which 12 people attended. This evening, the door-knocking starts at a house across the street from the old telephone-company building. No answer. At the second house, a light in the front hall illuminates a Christmas tree, but no one answers the door here either. Third house, also no answer. Finally, at the fourth house a man wearing pajama bottoms answers the door. After listening to Delaney make his pitch for six or seven minutes, he says that while he’s committed to voting for a Democrat in the general election, he’s not planning to caucus—and that if he was, he’d probably go with Andrew Yang, because he likes Yang’s proposed Freedom Dividend, his signature policy of providing a guaranteed basic income of $1,000 a month to all Americans.