"As Iowans prepare to elect a new United States senator for the first time in three decades (Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin is retiring after being in office since 1985), the scale at which people and power have shifted from its rural towns to its urban areas is emerging as a potent but unpredictable undercurrent in the excruciatingly close race, offering opportunity and risk for both sides," Barbaro writes. (Republican Joni Ernst (Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker) is concentrating more on rural voters, while Democrat Bruce Braley (NYT photo by Luke Sharrett) is going after the urban vote in the Iowa Senate race)
In Pocahontas County, in corn country in the northern part of the state, school enrollment has dropped by 32 percent over the past decade, forcing schools to consolidate and slash sports programs, ending years of tradition and rivalries, Barbaro writes. "Two hours south, Dallas County faces a very different problem: It is running out of schools. With the population swelling, in what used to be farmland ringing Des Moines, enrollment in its largest district has doubled over the same 10 years. As soon as a gleaming new high school is completed, construction on another begins."