November’s elections come amid a period of huge political unease. President Joe Biden’s Democrats face major economic headwinds while a war rages in Europe. Midterms rarely favour the president’s party. Former President Trump continues to hold sway among Republicans handing out endorsements that shock and delight opponents and supporters alike.

The six-day tour takes the political temperature and looks at the huge battles ongoing within both parties.

The tour takes in a wide range of places and views: from urban Philadelphia to industrial Pennsylvania and rural Virginia, from Black-Lives-Matter to conservative evangelicals, from white working-class communities swept up by Trump to liberal progressives bent on reform.

In Washington we look at the national picture; the pandemic, President Biden’s stimulus package, and soaring inflation come under the spotlight. We’ll also trace the tumultuous events that followed last election culminating in the storming of the Capitol.

During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Numerous state governorships are also up for grabs.

We have access to a huge range of local communities, senior political players and analysts.

Our tour is focused on live events– so much of the itinerary is dictated by the timing of rallies and candidate appearances. These are arranged at short notice. The itinerary is adapted to make the most of these events.

We recommend you fly to New York or Washington and then connect with Philadelphia Airport – Hotel details will be sent out 2 months prior to the tour.

This is a popular tour – if it is over-subscribed we will very likely run a second tour that takes in either Florida or Michigan and then Washington DC. Please contact us now for availability.

DATESDates: 3 – 9 Nov, 2022
DESTINATIONPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania (3), Washington, D.C. (3)

Led by Malcolm Brown

DURATION6 nights
INCLUDED
All AccommodationMeals and Water
Local TransportationExpert Guide
COSTCost: £3950.00
Single supplement: £500.00
Please enquire for pricing in Australian or US dollars

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Numbers will be strictly limited on this tour so early booking is advised.

Price: £3950.00
Single Supplement: £500.00
Please enquire for pricing in Australian or US dollars

As with all of our expert-led tours, we ensure that our groups remain small and intimate, and will not exceed 14 people. Flights to the US aren’t included in the tour price and should be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.

As with all of our tours the itinerary focuses on current affairs, and owing to the dynamic nature of politics means that local conditions may lead us adjust the final schedule.

Book Your Tour

For anyone with an interest in US politics it’s a tour not to be missed. Please email [email protected] to join the tour, or call us for further details and ask to speak with our Director Nicholas Wood.

Our tour will include the following elements:

Day 1

Thursday, 3rd November: Philadelphia

Meet with Malcolm Brown and Nicholas and Karen Wood in the lobby of the hotel. We’re in Philadelphia for our first night – but our focus is statewide where some crucial battles are taking place. The Republicans have high hopes of grabbing a Senator’s seat, seats in congress and even the governorship.

Overnight Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Day 2

Friday, 4th November: Bethlehem

It’s an hour’s drive north to the Lehigh Valley – Once an industrial heartland; Mack Trucks were made down the road in Allentown, and Bethlehem Steel produced armor for the US army; it is now home to distribution warehouses and a major gambling concession.

Some analysts call this bellwether territory: that economic backdrop, culture wars and a growing Hispanic population (possibly social conservatives) make this fertile territory for the Republicans hoping to scoop up disgruntled Dem votes. Voter registration across the state shows things are going their way.

But Trumps endorsements and fierce primary battles have made for an unusual contest. TV personality Dr Mehmet Oz had been endorsed by Trump to run for the Senate – his opponents say he’s a liberal! Doug Mastriano was his controversial nominee for Governor. A heavily disputed Republican primary season may make for a tougher election than they hoped.

We see campaign organisers from both parties, tour downtown enterprises fearing a possible recession amid high inflation and growing interest rates, and meet a range of different voters. Dinner in Bethlehem and a late return to Philadelphia.

Overnight Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Day 3

Saturday, 5th November Philadelphia

Philadelphia is as pivotal in the midterms as it was in the Presidential race. It was the racially diverse suburbs of the major cities that helped win Biden the presidency – but the Democratic party appears divided here with its progressive wing locked in an open battle with centrists.

We take a look at local politics as well as the economic and social issues facing many of this city’s residents. Sadly, Philadelphia suffers enormously from gun violence and has the highest murder rate per capita of the US’s major cities.

Enter stage left one of the party’s candidates for the Senate John Fetterman –when Mayor of Pittsburgh he chased down an unarmed African-American with a shotgun. In a city where calls to defund the police and Black Lives Matter are key issues, the Democratic party’s candidates across the state are struggling to get the support here they need.

Overnight Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Day 4

Sunday, 6th November: Washington DC

It Sunday so to church in Philly: Religious communities here help run voters to the polls; who says what under these roofs matters.

Next we head to Washington DC (2 hour drive) in time for a late lunch. We’ll meet with a range of analysts and media commentators for their take on the national picture ahead of Tuesday’s polling. One speaker relives the moment Trump supporters tried to storm the Capitol.

The last election rallies are also usually held Sunday. Dinner in Washington DC.

Overnight Washington, DC
Day 5

Monday, 7th November: Culpeper, Virginia

There’s a decidedly more conservative flavour to this day – as we head out of DC towards rural Virginia.

The pressure on incumbent Democratic house members is especially acute in districts like Virginia’s seventh, where Abigail Spanberger is a top target for Republicans in the 2022 contest. A growing list of would-be GOP challengers is vying for the opportunity to unseat the former CIA officer.

We travel to the historic town of Culpeper in the north of the district for a preview of the arguments that will be made on the frontlines of the contest for control of the US House, which will help to define the second half of Biden’s four year term.

Overnight Washington, DC
Day 6

Tuesday, 8th November: Voting Day

We’ll pick some key battles to follow and head to the polling stations to see voting.

A national TV studio gives an insight into their coverage of the election.

We’ll have a break mid-afternoon before heading to see the vote count and the results come in.

Stay up as late as you wish – or head to bed – we’ll review major results in the morning.

Overnight Washington, DC
Day 7

Wednesday, 9th November: Review

We review the night results over breakfast. Followed by check out and farewells.

Flights home.


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What’s Included

All of your accommodation and meals with water are included, as well as local transport (except during your free time).

Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.

Following the news

Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.

Group size

As on all our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 14 people. Frequently we travel with 10-12 people. Limited spaces are available.

Visas

The United States runs a visa waiver system for the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand (ESTA or ETA). Candadians are exempt from visa requirements. It is always good to check with the embassy in your country for latest advice regarding visa requirements. Travellers from most countries will need to register online with the department of homeland security before you travel. Please get in touch and let us know what passport you are travelling on so we can help advise you on any visas you may require.

Travellers who have previously been to Iran are now required to get a tourist visa for the United States.

Weather

This is mid-winter in Iowa so the weather will be cold with temperatures ranging from 10-30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to -10 degrees centigrade)..

Dress

Dress for cold weather; layers and headwear for warmth and waterproof clothing and footwear are important.

Secondly we have a range of meeting with politicians or senior officials where we are expected to be more formally dressed. We will advise you when meetings are coming up.

Men: Will need a jacket for some of the meetings.

Women: The female equivalent; jacket or blouse.

Currency

US dollar

Electricity

Plugs are North American 2 flat pin and 110v

FCO Website

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.

Medical Requirements

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx

We suggest you visit your own doctor or local travel clinic who will have the most up-to-date travel advice, and be able to recommend any vaccinations prior to travel based on your medical history.

Book Your Tour

On all of our tours you are accompanied by a leading political journalist or academic. Together with your tour expert you will meet a range of speakers, analysts and ordinary people with a huge range of views and experiences.

The overall aim is to give you a nuanced and comprehensive overview of the country you are in, and an exceptional one at that.

Don’t just take our word for it …

“The main reason to travel really is the “being there” factor – the experience of seeing the reality for ourselves is what made the difference and gave us a context for the valuable inputs from the experts and propagandists we met. The tour’s openness to some unscheduled encounters with “ordinary” people on both sides provided further insight. I ended more sympathetic to them than I had been – and far less sympathetic to their leaderships.” AR

“The access you obtained was outstanding – really amazing.” AN

“It is a short but thorough exam of what makes a country tick – or not tick. An immersion class into the nuts and bolts of the area. I love it.” JG

“It sounds like a cliché, but the tours really take you beyond and behind the headlines, providing you with unexpectedly profound insights about the country.” EL

“To see so much and meet with so many people in so short a time, and to absorb so much information in depth, was very stimulating.” PF

In the Press:

“Who better to take people behind the headlines than the person who spent ten years writing them?” British Airways Highlife Magazine

“I had underestimated their high-mindedness… During the week-long tour there are talks and conversations with more then 20 guest speakers. The holiday makers are an equally impressive bunch.” The Financial Times, on a tour

“An eye-opening 10 days!” Sydney Morning Herald

Email us for a full list of speakers and meetings on this tour: [email protected] or call and ask to be put through to one of our staff.

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US Elections

Feedback from our tour in Iowa – January 2020

Political Tours genuinely gives the most stimulating groups of any of the companies I travel with which is a fitting return for the work which goes into the programmes.
AR Iowa Caucus 2020

My best tour so far! Loved the mix of access to big rallies and rural Iowa. Really loved it!!
CS Iowa Caucus 2020

The Trump rally was the perfect beginning. I never thought I’d quote Joe Walsh, the Republican standing against Trump in Iowa, but he’s right – beating Trump should be the ONLY priority for the Democrats, and watching the President in action that night was a clarifying reminder of just how tough that’s going to be. Economic growth messages were warmly welcomed by the Trump crowd, but it was the raw meat subjects of guns, god, immigration and abortion that really got the crowd on their feet. This set the context for what we were to learn and witness over the coming days as the Democrats lined up to win the support of Iowans to take these issues, and this President, on in November.

Getting out of Des Moines was essential and we couldn’t have had a better guide that Dave Swenson. What a brilliant, engaging teacher! I learned more from him in that bus drive north than I think I ever have in a similar few hours anywhere. Again, this deep examination of the economic and social forces that are changing rural America, and the way its votes, was absolutely fascinating and enlightening. Art Cullen, the small town newspaper editor out of central casting, was the icing on the cake. Storm Lake will stay with me for a long time.
RC – Iowa Caucus Tour 2020

Intelligent and good fun companions and hosts. Lots of exposure to the politics from many different angles. Variety of perspectives – political, economic, geographic, academic, media, candidates – national & local – was excellent. You could not get the access and insight if you travelled on your own “DIY” political tour – so a real selling point. The tour exceeded my expectations.

Both experts were “on their feet” a lot, and had high energy and great insight. I liked the mix of political consultant and academic. It was great to listen to Eric give a Republican perspective on things. But all of the “guests” you invited along had interesting things to say – Joe Walsh and Trump were both equally fascinating!!
PG – Iowa Caucus Tour 2020

The US and Trump is a new tour. Please see feedback below from our US election tour from 2016.

“If it was a film we’d have ended watching from behind the sofa.  Tremendously informative and (despite the result) fun tour.”  US Elections, 2016

“The quality and variety of experts was excellent.” US Elections, 2016

“The speakers were a particular feature of this tour, and clearly much thought and effort had been put into selecting and engaging people from a variety of backgrounds. I doubt if this could have been improved upon and it was a privilege to meet them all.”  CB, US Elections, 2016

“We’ve done a variety of group tours before. This was the best we’ve been on, both in terms of content and company.” CR, US Elections, 2016

“The highlight of the tour was the Trump rally, because it overturned all preconceptions about those who would vote for Trump. We should have realised that the fact that his appeal was so wide would be very bad news for the Democrats. As with Brexit the volume of discontent with those in power would mean people would vote for anything or anybody who promised change.” SR, US Elections, 2016

“A sociological and political eye opener of a tour.” VH, US Elections, 2016

“I have been on a few tours before, but not one of them compared with this one. This was by far the best. Of course, the material content, and the time and place of its setting had a lot to do with it, but there were other factors. The size and mix of each group was about right, and having both yourself, and a local expert with us was a big advantage, able to sort out en route problems too, and help set the tone and atmosphere. The tour itinerary was very detailed, and could hardly have been more so.” CB, US Elections, 2016

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How to win the Iowa Caucus?

Winning Iowa isn’t like most US states – candidates need to focus their campaigns in a different way – and that’s what we’ll be looking at on our tour next February in the state.

The first thing to remember is that in this digital age, Iowa remains very rural. Many analysts speak of an information gap where many households don’t have access to a good mobile phone network or even the internet.

Barbara Leach, a guest columnist with the Desmoines Register and former Democratic Party vice-chair, says this means campaigning has to be done the old fashioned way, on the door step. Talk radio and local newspapers are key (although daily papers have gone – weekend papers are read throughout the week).

The next rule according to Leach follows on from the first. Candidates need to get out and meet the electorate. Obama did just that in 2008 and visited all 99 counties!

“Politics is personal,” writes Leach, “television, social media, and dropping by to give big-city speeches is not enough to win.”

In this largely rural state, the fall out from Trumps trade war with China, which has hit commodity prices has hit farmers hard. A new Farm Bill was introduced in late 2018 designed help them, but small farmers are looking for more. So a successful candidate will have to offer real policy solutions.

Democratic Caucuses are Undemocratic!

Caucuses are great to witness; instead of people casting their votes you literally see people clustering in corners of a room to show their support for their candidate. Heads are counted and from there there is a second count and delegates are then assigned.

While it’s great from an onlookers point of view – you hear the debate and can see support for each candidate muster in front of you – it’s not actually that democratic. This is because delegates are apportioned based on the Democratic turnout in the two previous elections.

As the Guardian reported in the run up to the 2016 election “if a precinct is supposed to have five delegates to the county convention, it doesn’t matter if eight people show up to the Democratic caucus or 800. The precinct is still only getting five delegates.” (Precincts elect people to the county convention, which elects people to the district convention, which elects people to the state convention.)

The rules require that candidates need to muster at least 15% of the vote in order to be considered a candidate. So if you poll less than 15% across the state – you’ll do worse in Iowa than you would elsewhere. In a crowded field this is pretty tough going.

Does it all matter?

Winning or losing Iowa doesn’t determine whether you have a shot at the presidency. But Iowans do say “There are three tickets out of Iowa” and that you have to be in the top three. Carter came second in 1976, although Obama’s win in 2008 key to eventual win over Hillary Clinton in 2008. A win here also helped John Kerry beat Howard Dean decisively in 2004.

The other thing to note is that the state’s Democratic electorate is dominated by college towns and blue-collar union industries. As the Guardian notes – it’s whiter and more liberal than other primary states.

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