03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Iowans Get Their "Ohm" On

Iowa is widely perceived as a homogenous state of meat-eating corn-growing white Protestants. But exceptions to the American Gothic stereotype abound, from the sushi halls of Iowa City and grape trellises of the Amana Colonies to the ultra-orthodox Jews from Brooklyn who run a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville. Here in Fairfield, about 1,700 residents gather each afternoon in a pair of gold domes for a session of group meditation known as Yogic Flying.

Ahead of today's Iowa caucus, in which even a few dozen votes could tilt the race in many voting precincts, candidates have been making special pitches to demographics as small and eccentric as Fairfield's Transcendental Meditation community. Of this hamlet's 10,000 residents, barely a third of them are transcendental devotees. But their political influence is outsized. For the past six years the town has chosen as its mayor a Transcendental Meditation devotee named Ed Malloy. And for 12 years ending in 2004, Fairfield was home to a peace party, called the Natural Law Party, which hoped to elect a Transcendental Meditation practitioner as president.