The 2020 Guide to Making Yourself at Home in Des Moines

He said the political world’s fixation on Iowa was “ridiculous” but he didn’t regret temporarily relocating. “If you don’t do well in Iowa, then your campaign is over.”

Before moving, I also tried to reach Marianne Williamson, the self-help author, spiritual guru and 2020 presidential candidate. Earlier this year, she, too, relocated to Iowa, renting an apartment in Des Moines. She didn’t respond to my text, but in June, her state director at the time said the move was “about showing her commitment to the Iowa caucuses.”

In September, Kamala Harris was overheard telling a Senate colleague that she was “moving to Iowa,” adding an expletive for emphasis. Her declaration excited Iowans so much that Raygun, a popular apparel store in Des Moines, made a T-shirt with the phrase. Ms. Harris and her husband, Doug, both posed for pictures with it. She spent 15 days here in October.

Iowa residents have all manner of recommendations for me when I mention to them that I’m here for an extended period of time. One couple from Dubuque offered to host me at their home. An Uber driver told me where to eat great Lebanese food. Several people told me the coffee shop I liked actually wasn’t cool.

Mostly, though, people had thoughts on how to survive the winter.

“Bundle up and walk,” Barb Perkins, a 60-year-old from Urbandale, instructed me before an Amy Klobuchar event last Thursday night. “Get sunlight.”

“Be prepared to be indoors most of the time,” said Beatrice Silva-Salas, 53, of West Des Moines. She also warned me that it could get so cold that anyone who spent more than 10 minutes outside could die.

Mr. Dodd, who dropped out of the 2008 primary immediately after the caucuses, had some suggestions of his own, including that I find some nice bed-and-breakfasts in northeastern Iowa.