Sarah Welter, 22, Bernie SandersWe work for the 1%. We provide for their wealth. I have two jobs. I had to drop out of college because it was too much. I still struggle financially to get by. Somebody who works 40 hours or more a week should not live in poverty.
Sarah Welter, 22, Bernie Sanders We work for the 1%. We provide for their wealth. I have two jobs. I had to drop out of college because it was too much. I still struggle financially to get by. Somebody who works 40 hours or more a week should not live in poverty.Benjamin Rasmussen for TIME
Sarah Welter, 22, Bernie SandersWe work for the 1%. We provide for their wealth. I have two jobs. I had to drop out of college because it was too much. I still struggle financially to get by. Somebody who works 40 hours or more a week should not live in poverty.
Orville Moore, 57, Trump.  We need to screen the refugees and stop them for now until we figure out who they are. They say they want to come to America for freedom and opportunity, but it doesn’t seem like they want to conform to our way of life. They want to change everything. And we need jobs back in the US. Thats part of what made America great, was the workforce.
Jessica Boyd, 20, Bernie Sanders supporter The kids that are born into the powerful families of this country are automatically told they’ll be successful. We’re at a point in history where if it’s not fixed, the United States is going to go into a collapse. We’re on the road to becoming an oligarchy. It’s our future. It’s not for you to mess up.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign event in Iowa on Jan. 24, 2016.
Nick McNamara, 31, TrumpI’m a college graduate. That’s an investment I made to make a good future for myself. But the playing field I’m in right now feels like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ We’re becoming weakened in the face of the world. We’re not the global superpower that we used to be.
Barbara Postema, Bernie, Age TKI’m a grandma and I’m doing this for my babies. I can’t just sit on the sidelines and watch this happen. Bernie gives me the courage to do that. When I see him standing up there, taking on all that he’s taking, it gives me the courage to take that on, too. Corporations are taking over our government and influencing it to the point that we the people feel that we have no voice anymore. It’s like our vote doesn’t matter anymore. I feel that what we’re fighting for with Bernie Sanders is a vote for America.
Sharron Martin, 74, Donald Trump: What have we got in Washington? They stay there. Who sees anything or stands up for the American people? They just all go with the flow. It’s going downhill, it’s going right into the garbage. We keep dragging these people in. What we’re working for, they’re getting for free. ISIS might be smarter than we are. They can do whatever they want to in here. They could be right out here in the parking lot! Who knows.
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Muskatine, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2016.
John Fisher, college student, 22
Jean Webber, 69, Undecided We’re borrowing too much money and we’re spending too much money overseas. We need to help our own people. We have veterans on the street and we have veterans who don’t have good healthcare. We need to bring back our religious freedoms and have prayer in schools again.
Rob McNamara, 28, TrumpWe’ve got an estimated 21 trillion deficit. We lose on education, trade, medicare. On so many levels it’s all negative. We’re on a bad glide path right now and it needs to be changed. We need to be hitting on all cylinders. And Trump’s vision is to bring it back.
Supporters clap at a campaign event in Iowa on Jan. 24, 2016.
Sarah Welter, 22, Bernie Sanders We work for the 1%. We provide for their wealth. I have two jobs. I had to drop out of
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Benjamin Rasmussen for TIME
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Meet the First-Time Voters Who Are Changing the Presidential Election

Jan 28, 2016

If a wave of political newbies come in from the cold, both the Republican and Democratic parties are in for a very long, and very frustrating, campaign, writes Philip Elliott in the Feb. 8 issue of TIME, in an article that accompanied these photographs shot by Benjamin Rasmussen.

The credit for that—or, depending on your viewpoint, the blame—goes to [Donald] Trump and Bernie Sanders, and Iowa is just the first test for gauging their real appeal. From opposite ends of the spectrum, both have promised to remake the nation with a populist revolution. You could call their supporters the Apprentice Voters: the fed-up, the tuned-out, the frustrated flock who want their elected leaders to respond to their teeth gnashing to do something. They were more likely to watch Trump host The Apprentice than to attend one of his rallies last year. But not anymore.

At more than 100 rallies TIME has attended over the past year, there is plenty of evidence that this diffuse tribe of political neophytes not only exists but is growing. Its numbers are hard to measure, and its commitment is anything but certain. In interviews, voters confide that they are novices at politics, only to make clear that they are hardly naive. Some are driven by anger and pride, or frustration and fear that are new to them. Most will say that the system is rigged against them, that the wealthy are winning while the middle class falters, and that they are worried about the lives and fortunes of their children. They are steered by neither party nor ideological strain, and they are moved by the certainty of men like Sanders and Trump.

"These supporters feel that their vote is important to the future of the country," says Rasmussen, a Denver-based photographer. "They seem empowered and feel like their involvement will make a difference, whether it is as an Iowa caucus voter, a volunteer or just a advocate. To me, this is so counter cultural and refreshing. David Foster Wallace wrote that, 'lazy cynicism has replaced thoughtful convictions as the mark of an educated worldview,' and I feel like this is so prevalent in how people approach politics. But these supporters were braving the Iowa cold because of their convictions."

Like many outside observers, Rasmussen was prone to generalize about the type of people attending the candidates' events – "The parking lots a Trump's rallies had more pickup trucks and the crowds at Bernie's had more young people," he says – but these clichés fell apart once he pulled people aside to photograph them. "So many people countered the stereotypes," he tells TIME. "There were Nick and Rob McNamara, 28, who had read every Trump book and come from Chicago to see him, but worked in vegetarian food sales. At a Bernie rally we met Jean Webber, a retired waitress from a town of 6,000 who wanted to see what the candidate would do for senior citizens. The individual stories made the movements behind the candidates make much more sense."

– with Olivier Laurent.

Benjamin Rasmussen is a photographer based in Denver.

Paul Moakley and Chelsea Matiash, who edited this photo essay, are respectively TIME's deputy director of photography and TIME's deputy multimedia editor.

Philip Elliot is TIME's Washington correspondent.

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