Voters listen to Bernie Sanders speak at Grand View University's Sisam Arena in Des Moines last night. (Photo by Lucian Perkins for The Washington Post)

THE BIG IDEA: 

-- Caucus day has finally arrived, and both the Republican and Democratic contests are true toss-ups. 

-- Today is the first time Donald Trump’s name has ever appeared on a ballot for public office.

-- Fourth-quarter fundraising reports, many filed just before a midnight deadline, offer a snapshot of every candidate’s financial health as voting begins:

  • Marco Rubio raised $14.2 million in the fourth quarter, but he spent $14.8 million. He had $10.4 million cash in his coffers a month ago.
  • Jeb Bush raised $7.1 million during the last three months of the year, only about half of his take from the quarter before. His campaign spent $9.8 million and started this year with just $7.6 million.
  • Trump loaned himself $10.8 million and took in $2.8 million in donations (despite his insistence that he is entirely self-funding his campaign).
  • We’ve known for a month that Ben Carson brought in $22.6 million, followed by Ted Cruz, who raised $20.5 million. We learned last night that Chris Christie raised $2.95 million and had only $1 million on hand. John Kasich raised $3.2 million; Carly Fiorina, $2.84 million; Rand Paul, $2.1 million; Mike Huckabee, $703,000; and Rick Santorum got less than half a million.

-- The leading Democrats did better than all of the Republicans: Bernie Sanders raised $33.6 million to Hillary Clinton’s $37 million. He had $28 million cash on Jan. 1, and she had $37.9 million. Bernie raised more than $20 million in January alone and because almost all of it came in small donations 99.9 percent of his contributors have not maxed out. But Martin O'Malley is in dire financial straits. He had $169,442 cash on hand at the end of the year and $535,477 in debt. He raised $1.5 million in the fourth quarter but spent $2.1 million. He took out a $500,000 loan in December to stay afloat, and several of his staffers were working without pay.

More numbers, including from the Super PACs, are below. But, first, let’s look ahead to the caucuses, which convene in Iowa at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET. A candidate’s financial fortunes, after all, can turn on a dime. If he shows promise, the cash pours in. If he falters, it dries up. And many donors, especially on the right, have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting to pick a horse until the race starts. That's why what happens at 1,100 caucus sites for Republicans and nearly 900 for Democrats matters so much.

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-- With apologies for the bad pun and mixed metaphor, here are 10 important questions we should know the answers to by this time tomorrow:

Ted Cruz arrives at North Star Restaurant in Fenton, Iowa. (Photo by Joshua Lott for The Washington Post)

1. Does “The Iowa Way” matter anymore?

Cruz has run a textbook, shoe-leather Iowa campaign. This afternoon, in Jefferson County, the Texas senator will complete what’s known as “The Full Grassley” – campaigning in his 99th of 99 counties. Though he does not have many backers in Washington, he has actually won more endorsements from Iowa state legislators than anyone else. Cruz’s campaign, which opened a dormitory for canvassers, claims 12,000 volunteers and a captain in each of the state’s 1,681 precincts.

Trump, on the other hand, has run the most unconventional campaign imaginable. He’s spent only a handful of nights in the Hawkeye State. Until recently, he had held only large rallies near population centers. He rarely takes questions from voters. He did not run any television ads until the final month. He brought his helicopter to the state fair last summer to give kids rides. His jet taxied up to a rally in Eastern Iowa this weekend to the theme song from “Air Force One.”

Yet the final poll of Iowa before the caucuses, from the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, puts Trump up by 5 points, 28 percent to 23 percent.

Why? Presidential campaigns have become increasingly nationalized. Conservative talk radio matters more than farm radio these days. What’s on Fox News matters more than what’s on the local news.

And it cuts both ways: In an earlier era, Cruz’s opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard would be fatal. This year, despite heavy attacks and the state’s reliance on ethanol, it is not. Voters are less concerned about parochial interests than they once were.

Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, who won the past two GOP caucuses, have gotten nowhere, despite basically living in the state for most of the last year. Tonight will tell us how broken the old model is.

“What has kept Iowa in the forefront is the role that citizens here have played in vetting the candidates over many campaigns,” Dan Balz, who has been covering campaigns in Iowa since the 1970’s, writes in a column today. “The people here can be demanding, both in the attention they expect to be paid and in the probing nature of their questions. But in the last cycle and in particular this one, some of the intimacy of the past has begun to disappear. Trump [represents] a break with custom and tradition and could have the impact of eroding what has been especially valuable about campaigning in Iowa.”

Trump speaks at Gerald Kirn Middle School yesterday in Council Bluffs. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)

2. How many people show up?

Everyone agrees that the more people who show up at caucus sites tonight, the more likely Trump and Sanders are to win. Record turnout is widely expected on the Republican side, but many Democrats don’t think their 2008 record, which Barack Obama helped set, can be broken.

Advisers to both of the leading Democrats privately agree that Clinton is narrowly ahead, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker report: “Neither campaign expects turnout to top 200,000, although that would be high enough to give Sanders a real opportunity.”

Because the total number of voters is not reported on the Democratic side, but the number of delegates accumulated, Sanders’ challenge is distributing his support broadly across the state. He tends to do best in college towns and liberal strongholds and not as well in rural areas.

This weekend’s Register/Bloomberg poll had Clinton up a statistically insignificant 3 points, 45 percent to 42 percent. But Sanders did best among those who have never actually caucused and independents who do not identify with the Democratic Party. Among those under 35, Bernie drew 63 percent. Clinton does better with more reliable caucus-goers, including those over 65.

So the Sanders campaign has been urging college-aged supporters to “Go Home for Bernie.” Speaking at the University of Iowa Saturday, Sanders told thousands of students that they could help him “make the pundits look dumb” by turning out. “If people come out, I think you're going to look at one of the biggest political upsets in the modern history of our country,” Sanders said yesterday on CNN.

Like Sanders, Trump has an advantage among less dependable caucus-goers. He’s up 16 points among those who have never caucused before, while Cruz leads by 3 points among those who have gone to a caucus before.

National Review pegs “the magic number” at 135,000 on the Republican side. If turnout is below that, the magazine says “Iowa will be Cruz’s to lose.” But if it is over 150,000, “which some Republicans believe is possible,” then “Trump will likely win.” For context, a record 122,000 caucused in 2012. The state GOP chair has asked officials to prepare for as many as 170,000, though he says he expects 150,000 or slightly less, Tim Alberta reports: “The latter figure is being floated by Gov. Terry Branstad … Those are high-end estimates, however. Officials from many of the campaigns predict the number will fall somewhere between 125,000 and 140,000. A few even think the figure could remain relatively static at 122,000, arguing that Ron Paul drew many first-time caucus-goers in 2012 who won’t be back this time.” The total number of votes cast will be one gauge of just how angry and motivated the electorate is.

A blizzard is expected to hit Iowa, but not until AFTER voting ends. “Through about 9 p.m. it doesn’t look bad or much snow in any location,” said Roger Vachalek, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, told the Register. “I doubt there will be much of any accumulation by that time. Maybe less than half an inch or so in some areas." But, for reporters trying to fly on to New Hampshire, it could be a mess...

Pastor Joshua Nink prays for Trump yesterday at First Christian Church in Council Bluffs. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

3. Do evangelicals come out at the same rate they did four years ago? If they do, Trump will probably lose.

In that Register poll, just 47 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers identified as evangelical or born-again Christians. In 2012, it was 57 percent, according to entrance polls. When the Register’s numbers are tabulated on the assumption that 60 percent of the electorate is evangelical, the race is suddenly tied, with Trump at 26 percent and Cruz at 25 percent.

In the same poll, 56 percent of all Republicans said it bothers them that Trump has supported abortion rights in the past. And 36 percent call themselves troubled by his lack of familiarity with the Bible.

Overall, Trump was viewed positively by 50 percent of likely Republican voters and unfavorably by 47 percent. But among self-described evangelicals, 42 percent viewed The Donald positively and 56 percent saw him negatively.

“I think the big factor, if you look at Iowa and this one, is how well I’m doing with evangelicals,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week.”

So Trump played very hard for evangelicals in the final hours. He campaigned with Jerry Falwell Jr. yesterday, and he attacked the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Trump even declared that he would appoint judges inclined to reverse last June's ruling.

And, just as he did last weekend, he again went to church. “He, his wife, Melania, and two staffers took communion when it was passed," The Associated Press reports. "But Trump, momentarily confused, mistook the silver plates circulated around the auditorium and dug several bills out of his pocket. ‘I thought it was for offering,’ he said with a laugh to his staff."

As Rick Perry once said, oops.

Ben Carson (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Watch Ben Carson’s share of the vote. The retired neurosurgeon raised more money in the fourth quarter than any other GOP candidate, and he pulled 10 percent in this weekend’s poll. Yet he’s a total afterthought in media coverage of the race.

Carson has a committed network, including homeschoolers, many of whom have read his book “Gifted Hands” as part of their curriculum.

But it’s hard to imagine him actually closing in the double digits. The vast majority of his supporters are evangelicals, and a plurality of them picked Cruz as their second choice in the Register poll. So, if they conclude this really is a two-way race, they’ll probably break for Cruz.

Cruz would have won the caucuses if the state had not moved its caucuses back from the first week of January to the first day of February, but his favorability among Republicans has dropped from 76 percent to 65 percent over the past month in the face of heavy attacks. Still, this weekend’s Iowa poll shows that Cruz would win a head-to-head race with Trump in the state by 18 points, 53 percent to 35 percent.

Hillary in Council Bluffs yesterday (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

4. Does playing it safe pay off for HRC?

As the race tightened, with some polls showing Sanders ahead, the Clinton campaign did not veer from its playbook.

Her events are cautious and formulaic. She's introduced by a local volunteer. She has smaller crowds to prevent empty seats. She works to project deep fluency and knowledge of policy. 

Unlike her husband, Clinton is a grinder who avoids risk taking. Speaking at a bowling alley in Adel, for example, she declined entreaties to try rolling a ball, fearful of a bad photo opp.

Her crowds are not as enthusiastic as Sanders’, but her team says she can win despite the passion gap. This weekend’s poll offered a data point to validate Hillary's theory of the case: 83 percent of her supporters are firmly in her camp, up from 69 percent last month.

But the ghosts of 2008, when Clinton finished third behind John Edwards, may still haunt her. And maybe a little more risk taking would have helped.

Bernie Sanders speaks in Marshalltown yesterday. (Photo by Lucian Perkins/For The Washington Post)

5. Can Sanders stand the heat?

John Wagner, The Post's beat reporter assigned to Sanders, relays that the Vermonter has been pushed into a defensive, and political, crouch by sustained attacks from the Clinton machine over the past few days.

“The senator, who can come across as testy and stubborn under the best of circumstances, has grown even more so in the final days of the Iowa campaign,” Wagner writes. “He has lashed out at his critics and laced his campaign speeches with more talk about raw politics than he did during his ascent this summer.”

“Dismantle health care?” a peeved Sanders shouted Sunday at a rally in Waterloo. His voice raspy, he took Clinton to task for suggesting that he wanted to eliminate Obamacare. “I’ve spent my life fighting for universal health care for every man, woman and child," he said.

There are signs that the attacks on Sanders have taken at least some toll. This weekend’s poll showed his favorable rating dropped from 89 percent to 82 percent over the past month.

Jon Favreau, who worked as a speechwriter on the 2008 campaign, spoke for many Obama alums when he told Bloomberg News last week that Sanders' campaign “resembles Howard Dean's a lot more than it resembles Barack Obama's.”

In an interview for this morning’s “Today” show, pre-taped in Ames last night, Sanders sounded a little like Dean after his defeat in the 2004 caucuses.

“What we are doing is running a national campaign,” Sanders said. “We’re going to run until the convention. I hope we win, but if we lose by two points, so what? We’re going to go to New Hampshire!  Then we're going to go to South Carolina! Then we're going to go to Nevada! We are in this to the end."

Martin O'Malley in Waterloo yesterday (Matthew Putney/The Courier via AP)

6. Who do Martin O’Malley voters break for?

The former Maryland governor got 3 percent in the Register poll, which would normally make him irrelevant. But that was also the spread between Clinton and Sanders in the survey, and the margin of error is 4 percent.

Looking to take advantage of the byzantine rules on the Democratic side, where voters physically take sides, the Clinton campaign has trained 4,000 volunteer precinct captains to throw some bodies into O’Malley’s corner when it tactically makes sense as a way to hurt Sanders. If O’Malley gets 15 percent of the caucus-goers at a precinct, then he is considered “viable” and his supporters do not need to pick between Sanders and Clinton. In many cases, Sanders is the second choice of O’Malley supporters. Both are looking for an outsider and uncomfortable with Clinton. Making O’Malley “viable” prevents people who would like to back Sanders in the second round from doing so. BuzzFeed reported over the weekend that there is a proprietary Clinton campaign iPhone app to help precinct captains calculate when to engage in such chicanery.

The Sanders campaign said it would not play such games.

“If the race is a nail-biter, the O'Malley voters could be particularly influential in precincts with odd numbers of delegates -- 11, rather than 10, for example -- because they could tip what looks like a tie into a one-delegate victory there,” CNN explains.

Marco Rubio at the Sheraton in West Des Moines. (Joshua Lott for The Washington Post)

7. Does Rubio finish in a strong third place?

Rubio, who wants Trump to win tonight so that Cruz is diminished in later primaries, hopes to benefit from the squabbling between the top two candidates. He’s attracting much bigger crowds in the closing days and has been making inroads with more moderate voters with a message that he can be a bridge candidate who unites all the party’s factions.

Iowa’s fluidity benefits him: He got 15 percent in the Register poll, and 45 percent of all caucus-goers said that they could change their minds in the final hours.

By spinning a surprising number of reporters, they’ve manipulated the expectations game. Politico on Sunday, for instance, actually led its site with a story that said Rubio “is almost guaranteed to meet or beat diminished expectations.” A few hours later, the campaign gave them the exclusive on its fundraising number.

The Cruz campaign has trained its fire on Rubio in the final days, eager to stop his momentum. “A vote for Marco is a vote for amnesty,” Cruz said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Rubio shot back by calling Cruz calculating: “The lie that his whole campaign is built on is that he’s the only conservative and everyone else is a sellout and a RINO [Republican In Name Only], and it’s absurd.”

Rubio badly needs the cash that would come with a strong Hawkeye State finish. As I noted at the top, he spent more money last quarter than he took in. But he’s staffed up really heavily in recent weeks, and he’ll only be able to afford such an expanded operation with a big uptick in fundraising. His campaign is playing a long game and believes that their best shot is to eventually force a two-way race with Trump, which is why they need to sideline Cruz in Iowa. But they’ll need to afford to be patient. Finishing fourth behind Carson tonight would be a truly devastating setback, undercutting the central rationale of his candidacy. Even finishing below 15 percent would suggest an upward limit to his appeal.

Jeb Bush at the Greasewood Flats Ranch in Carroll. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

8. Can Jeb avoid a debilitating finish in Iowa?

Bush only got 2 percent in the Register poll, behind Christie’s 3 percent. But that’s not for lack of trying. The former Florida governor has put in lots of face time, and his super PAC has spent more in the state than any other. A form letter from George W. Bush landed in Republican mailboxes across the state over the past few days. "As someone who has sat in the Oval Office, I know Jeb has the leadership skills to grow our economy, fix Washington, strengthen our military and keep America safe," writes the former president, who won Iowa’s caucuses in 2000.

“He will have no good excuses for a poor finish,” Dan Balz says of Jeb.

Bush has essentially been trying to convince his Iowa supporters not to bolt to Rubio in the final days, David Weigel reports. He repeatedly asked an audience at an American Legion hall in Dubuque to consider how inexperienced and political the senator was -- a man who would "cut and run" from immigration reform when the polls told him to. "When the pressure mounts, you want to have someone who has a backbone to do what's right," he said.

After a weekend of campaigning, and one last event midday today, he’ll fly to New Hampshire for an evening town hall. The problem is that if he finishes really badly in Iowa, and Rubio fares well, it will be much harder to get win in his sails in New Hampshire over the next week.

9. How loyal are libertarians to the Paul family?

Rand held firm at 5 percent in the final poll. He’s closing out his campaign with his father, Ron, who fared well in Iowa in 2008 and even stronger in 2012. Rand had distanced himself from his father when it looked like he could run a credible campaign for the nomination, as opposed to a campaign of ideas.

But now he’s just trying to regain as much of his father’s political base as he can. Ron got 21.4 percent, just three points behind Mitt Romney and Santorum in 2012. He actually wound up controlling the Iowa delegation at the national convention in Tampa.

But much of the Paul coalition form last time has seemingly drifted away to candidates like Cruz.

Ron headlined a raucous rally for his son at the University of Iowa last night, called “The Revolution Continues.”

“The revolution is alive and well,” the former Texas congressman said.

Paul strategists say they will surprise analysts today because of the depth of their network.

But the senator faces growing pressure to drop out so he can focus on getting reelected in Kentucky. Last week, Democrats got a top-tier recruit when the mayor of Lexington jumped into the race. With that as the backdrop, it is hard to see how Rand’s presidential campaign can go on for long beyond New Hampshire if he doesn’t surprise tonight.

A billboard supporting Trump in the backyard of George Davey's home in West Des Moines yesterday. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)

10. If Trump loses Iowa, does he lose his aura of invincibility?

It should go without saying, but today is really just the beginning of the 2016 election, not the end. The polls have been embarrassingly wrong a lot the past few years. Trump’s lead seems daunting, but that could change quickly if it turns out his supporters are not motivated enough to show up.

“In any other election year with any other candidate, Trump’s consistently high poll numbers and massive rally crowds would earn him the title of presumed nominee,” writes Jenna Johnson, who has followed the frontrunner around the country for months now. “But this year is unlike any other and Trump is unlike any other GOP candidate"

Today is the first chance to actually see whether Trump is for real.

“Unless I win," he said this weekend, "I will consider this a big, fat, beautiful — and, by the way, very expensive — waste of time."

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Trump denied allegations of gender-based workplace discrimination from a former Iowa staffer, saying the 26-year-old was fired “for cause” and calling her allegations “totally made up.” The frontrunner talked with The Post’s Jose A. DelReal after the New York Times reported that Elizabeth Davidson, 26, filed a complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission alleging she was paid less than male employees and fired for speaking to the news media when no male employees had faced such consequences. He called her “a very disgruntled employee.” More from Jose: “Davidson also said that when she met Trump last summer, he looked at her and another female volunteer and said, ‘You guys could do a lot of damage.’ Trump denied that … He added that a confidentiality clause in Davidson's contract prohibited her from speaking to the media. That clause was violated when she spoke to the New York Times for a story that presented turmoil within the campaign’s senior ranks in the state.”  Meanwhile, in his final speech of the day, Trump said he’d build a new, $100 million White House ballroom if elected.

More fundraising numbers—

Priorities USA Action, the lead super PAC backing Clinton, has raised $50.5 million to date and ended January with nearly $45 million in the bank. The group’s chief strategist, Guy Cecil, said donors have committed to give another $42 million. George Soros has given $6 million.

The O’Malley super PAC received $100,000 from Eliot Spitzer and his mother. Generation Forward only raised $514,000 during the past quarter, including in-kind donations. “Until recently, Spitzer had been dating Lis Smith, O’Malley’s deputy campaign manager,” John Wagner notes.

The pro-Jeb super PAC Right to Rise raised just $15 million in the second half of the year after taking in more than $100 million during the first six months. Of that, $10 million came from "Hank" Greenberg, former chief of AIG.

Billionaire hedge fund managers Paul Singer and Ken Griffin each gave $2.5 million to the super PAC backing Rubio, part of the $14.4-million haul the group raised in the second half of 2015.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam have not yet made public contributions to any of the super PACs backing the presidential candidates, but they each maxed out to Cruz with $2,700 checks in mid-November. That’s promising news for the Texas senator since the best-known Super PACs supporting Cruz raised only slightly over $1 million dollars in the second half of 2015, despite heavy spending.

John Boehner still has $2.7 million in leftover political cash that he will use to remain active in helping his former colleagues in the Capitol.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A second Virginia Tech student was arrested connection with the abduction and death of a 13-year-old Blacksburg girl. (T. Rees Shapiro, DeNeen L. Brown and Fenit Nirappil)
  2. The decades-long serarch for "Mr. Wonder," accused of molesting children in Louisiana during the 1970s, has come to an end with an arrest in San Diego. (AP)
  3. More than 1 million low-income residents in 21 states could soon lose their government food stamps if they fail to meet work requirements that began kicking in last month because of falling unemployment. (AP)
  4. Facebook banned private gun sales on the social media network. (Fast Company)
  5. A triple bombing killed at least 50 people in a predominantly Shiite suburb south of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

Liz Cheney during her failed 2014 bid for Senate in Wyoming. (Reuters/Ruffin Prevost/File)
  1. Liz Cheney, Dick’s daughter, will today formally announce her candidacy for the House seat opening with the retirement of GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis. (Karoun Demirjian; Wyoming Tribune Eagle)
  2. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) announced he will not seek reelection. (Appleton Post-Crescent)
  3. Defense Secretary Ash Carter decided not to impose any further punishment on David Petraeus, saying he “considers this matter closed.” (Craig Whitlock and Adam Goldman)
  4. Obama will visit a mosque, for the first time in his presidency, outside Baltimore on Wednesday. He’ll also have his first meeting with Paul Ryan since he became Speaker this week. And, on Feb. 10, POTUS will visit Springfield, Ill., to mark the ninth anniversary of the launch of his 2008 campaign. Obama will address to the Illinois state legislature. (David Nakumura)
  5. Lindsey Graham campaigned solo for Jeb in New Hampshire yesterday. He said Bush’s “quiet resolve” is starting to resonate and told the Union Leader that Bush has the best chance of winning in the general election.

MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE: 

-- The Democratic candidates agreed to participate in a newly scheduled CNN town hall on Wednesday night in New Hampshire. The prime-time question and answer session in Derry will be like the one in Des Moines last week, featuring all three candidates. “Scheduled for 8 p.m. EST, the session is not a head-to-head debate. It will feature moderator and audience questions for each of the candidates separately,” Anne Gearan reports. “It was not clear whether the newly added town hall will affect a proposed debate hosted by MSNBC on Thursday. Clinton, Sanders and O'Malley have agreed in principle to attend that debate, provided it is approved by the Democratic National Committee, and MSNBC announced details Sunday: 9 p.m. EST at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The DNC issued a cryptic statement Sunday tabling discussion until Tuesday.”

-- Sanders has formally requested Secret Service protection. CBS says a Sanders security detail is not imminent and must still be authorized by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and a congressional advisory committee. Clinton has had agents since she was First Lady. Trump's code name is “mogul.” Carson is "Eli," a reference to the prophet. And HRC is known as "Evergreen."

-- A clash over Hillary's emails on the Sunday shows: 

  • Clinton dismissed revelations that 22 emails on her private email server, spread across seven chains, were labeled top secret. She said on ABC's "This Week" that the Friday news dump from the State Department was politically motivated. "This is very much like Benghazi," she said. "I think it's pretty clear they are grasping at straws." (Elise Viebeck)
  • Sanders, who famously said he did not care about the frontrunner's "damn" emails during the first debate, called the issue "very serious" on CNNHe said that there is a "legal process in place" for understanding what happened. “Well, look, in terms of what people are going to get slapped with, look at the front pages today in terms of what Secretary Clinton is getting slapped with,” Sanders said. “You know as well as I do, it has to do with emails."

-- A CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire, published Sunday, showed Trump and Sanders have dipped slightly from two weeks ago, but they retain their leads going into the Feb. 9 primary. But more than 40 percent of Democrays say they have not definitely decided who to support. 

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

Bill Hartzell at the Rodeo Saloon in Council Bluffs. His wife's grandmother was murdered by an illegal immigrant in 2013. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein for The Washington Post)

-- “The struggle with ‘sanctuary cities’ in Iowa,” by Robert Samuels in Council Bluffs: “With illegal immigration roiling the GOP electorate, the party’s presidential candidates have spent months blasting sanctuary cities as bastions of liberal naivete and bleeding-heartedness gone awry. No place symbolized this mind-set better, they have said, than San Francisco, where last year, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was allegedly murdered by an illegal Mexican migrant. But there is an awkward, and unstated, element to the hostility toward sanctuary cities. In Iowa, at least 26 of the state’s 99 counties are deemed ‘sanctuaries’ — including some of the state’s most conservative. … At times, the candidates have blasted sanctuary cities — while standing in one.”

A memorable lead anecdote: “llegal immigration makes Bill Hartzell seethe. The memories are fresh from the afternoon in October 2013 when he saw his wife’s 93-year-old grandmother bloodied and unconscious, after being beaten and raped in her house by a 19-year-old Mexican who crossed the border and never left. His outrage is driving Hartzell to vote for Cruz. … Cruz has said he would block these localities from receiving federal funds for law enforcement — an idea that makes perfect sense to Hartzell. Except for when it applies to the place where he lives. Pottawattamie County’s sheriff adopted a sanctuary policy in 2014. Hartzell knows the sheriff. … And he is uncomfortable that his county would lose at least a million dollars should a President Cruz carry out his threat. ‘For us in Council Bluffs, it’s a little more tricky issue,’ he said. ‘This isn’t San Francisco.’”

Abu Zubaida (Obtained by The Washington Post)

-- “How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations,” by Greg Miller and Adam Goldman: “Senior CIA officials have for years intentionally deceived parts of the agency workforce by transmitting internal memos that contain false information about operations and sources overseas, according to current and former U.S. officials who said the practice is known by the term ‘eyewash.’ Agency veterans described the tactic as an infrequent but important security measure … But others cited a significant potential for abuse. Beyond the internal distrust implied by the practice, officials said there is no clear mechanism for labeling eyewash cables or distinguishing them from legitimate records being examined by the CIA’s inspector general, turned over to Congress or declassified for historians.”

Telling example from the still-classified torture report: “The Senate Intelligence Committee found glaring inconsistencies in CIA communications about classified operations, including drone strikes. … In one instance, leaders at CIA headquarters sent a cable to the agency’s station in Pakistan saying operators there were not authorized to pursue a potentially lethal operation against alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida. But a second set of instructions sent to a smaller circle of recipients told them to disregard the other message and that the mission could proceed.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: What are people saying about the caucuses online? Over the last week, our analytics partners at Zignal Labs have been tracking mentions of the Iowa caucuses across traditional, broadcast and social media. In all, there have been about 100,000 crossmedia mentions per day. If volume is any indication, those who are tweeting and writing about Iowa are more focused on Sanders and Trump than any of their intra-party rivals. Rick Santorum has seen a small spike in mentions, as tweeters and journalists recall the scene of his caucus triumph. Here is the word cloud of all mentions for each of the past three days:

Interest is particularly intense within the Hawkeye State itself. A state-by-state breakdown shows only New Yorkers have sent more caucus-related Tweets than Iowans. Volume has also been high in California, Texas and Florida:

— Pictures of the day:

D.C. experienced a gorgeous sunset on Sunday night (via @LJ0hnson):

The Clintons snapped a selfie before their last event of the day via hillaryclinton):

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) shared a moment with Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson at a Cruz event (via @SteveKingIA):

Cruz released a mock-up of his "flat tax form" (via @betsy_klein):

This sign hangs on the wall in Clinton's Des Moines headquarters as motivation for staff and volunteers (via @anniekarni):

The Koch political network had its winter retreat in California. A recommended reading list included "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels" (via @jonathanvswan):

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) snapped a selfie with Daily Show host Trevor Noah at the House Democratic retreat in Baltimore (via reploisfrankel):

A church in Iowa thinks NBC's Chuck Todd is omniscient (via @CarrieNBCNews):

— Tweets of the day:

Filmmaker Michael Moore endorsed Sanders last night:

Clinton communications director Jen Palmieri finally got her luggage:

It seems unlikely John Kasich will get much of a bump from his New York Times endorsement in the Republican primaries.

Meet Alice, a Marco Rubio supporter, and her wizard staff:

Some talkers on the right criticized Fox, an emerging trend we've noticed since Trump boycotted the debate. Mark Levin went off on Chris Wallace over a somewhat tense interview with Cruz on "Fox News Sunday."

Speaker Paul Ryan weighed in on next weekend's Super Bowl. Remember, his Packers lost to the Cardinals, who then lost to the Panthers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom for the relaunch of The Bay Lights ahead of the Super Bowl:

Trump's unconventional campaign, cont.

Donald Trump Jr. attended a University of Iowa basketball game:

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) enjoyed a Bruce Springsteen concert:

This weekend marked some anniversaries:

Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite:

And what would have been President Franklin Roosevelt's 134th birthday:

Scott Walker could have been a contender. Instead, on the eve of the caucuses, the failed presidential candidate was watching TV:

— Instagrams of the day:

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) went to the Screen Actors' Guild Awards with his wife, Betty:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and wife Julie hit up the Sundance Film Festival:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) spotted a double rainbow from the highway:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- The Atlantic, "The New Republican fault-line," by Ronald Brownstein: "In both national surveys, and in polls across the key early states, Trump’s support is crossing almost all of the boundaries that have previously shaped Republican races, most prominently along lines of ideology and religious affiliation. He has replaced those old divisions with a new division that centers on education, building an advantage among working-class Republicans large enough to lead in virtually all surveys both nationally and in the critical early states ... In recent cycles, ideology and religious affiliation have functioned as the most important divides in Republican nominating contests ... Both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 followed the same broad formula for winning the nomination. Each man won about half of Republican voters who did not identify as evangelical Christians, and about one-third of those who did, according to a cumulative analysis by ABC pollster Gary Langer of all the exit polls conducted in each contest ... In early polling, Trump has erased most of the traditional divisions most of his rivals expected would define this race ... Across the broad range of recent national and early state surveys, Trump consistently attracts about 40 percent of Republicans without a college degree—a remarkable number in a field this large."

-- Politico, "How Clinton is plotting to go after Trump," by Glenn Thrush: "After months of laughing off Trump ... her campaign and its allies have begun to steer time and resources into framing lines of attack against the blustery billionaire ... The man tasked with leading off an eventual anti-Trump offensive is David Brock ... The emerging approach to defining Trump is an updated iteration of the “Bain Strategy” — the Obama 2012 campaign’s devastating attacks on Romney’s dealings with investment firm Bain Capital, according to a dozen Democratic operatives and campaign aides familiar with the accelerating planning inside Clinton’s orbit. This time, Democrats would highlight the impact of Trump’s four business bankruptcies – and his opposition to wage hikes at his casinos and residential properties — on the families of his workers."

-- Politico, "Sanders' military adviser briefed him once," by Michael Crowley: "Facing skepticism about his foreign policy expertise, Bernie Sanders said on Sunday that he speaks to 'many, many, many people' who provide him with advice on the subject. But the sole person Sanders cited by name (said) that he's spoken to Sanders only one time recently ... 'I was asked to go over and speak with him just once, which I did,' said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Korb said the wide-ranging conversation 'probably' occurred in December. Korb was among about a half-dozen foreign policy experts who spoke to Politico on Friday after Sanders' campaign cited them as recent sources of advice for the Vermont senator. At least half of them say they have only spoken to Sanders once or twice in the past year."

The Clinton campaign seized on the story:

HOT ON THE LEFT

O'Malley's Saturday night in Iowa was kind of depressing. From the Huffington Post: "He stood on a chair in his cramped campaign office. About 100 or so people came to hear him talk. A table in the back offered a spread of hamburgers, store-bought cookies and something simmering in a crockpot. A printed 'Wish List' taped to the wall asked supporters for donated items. A couch. Inflatable mattresses (?). Pens. A vacuum cleaner. The last request on the list was scribbled in by hand: 'A victory in Iowa!'"

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Iowa's Republican Secretary of State condemned a Cruz mailer. From the New Yorker: "On Saturday, Twitter came alive with pictures from voters who received mailers from the Cruz campaign. At the top fo the mailers, in a bold red box, are the words 'VOTING VIOLATION' ... Below that, a chart appears with the names of the recipient of the mailing as well as his neighbors and their voting 'grade' and 'score' ... After seeing the mailers, Iowa’s secretary of state, Paul Pate, issued a statement condemning Cruz’s tactic." David Weigel has more here.

DAYBOOK:

-- On the campaign trail: Almost everyone is in Iowa, no surprise. Here's each candidate's route for the day.

  • Trump: Waterloo, Cedar Rapids (Sarah Palin joins), West Des Moines (party)
  • Cruz: Jefferson, Marion, Des Moines (party)
  • Rubio: Clive, Urbandale, Des Moines (party)
  • Sanders: Des Moines (party)
  • Clinton: Des Moines (party)
  • O'Malley: Des Moines, Ames, Des Moines (party)
  • Rand: Waukee, Des Moines, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines (party)
  • Santorum: Urbandale, Johnson (party)
  • Carson: Spencer, Decorah, Cedar Rapids, West Des Moines (party)
  • Huckabee: Des Moines (party)
  • Christie: Urbandale, Des Moines, and then off to New Hampshire.
  • Jeb has a midday event in Des Moines and then flies to New Hampshire for a 6:30 p.m. town hall in Manchester. 
  • Kasich is in New Hampshire for town halls in Rochester, Greenland and Loudon.

-- At the White House: President Obama meets with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and then administration officials serving on a cancer task force.

-- On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The House meets at 2 p.m. for legislative business, with eight suspension votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Donald Trump Jr. on his father: “He’s a blue collar guy with a very big balance sheet.” (CNN)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- A big thaw opens February. "Winter disappears to start this week, but hops back into the fold by Thursday," the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. "In the meantime, mild weather springs to life.  Temperatures today approach 60 degrees and after pulling back a bit Tuesday, shoot well into the 60s on Wednesday.  But showers both today and Wednesday put a damper on the mild temps. A more typical early February chill settles in Thursday through the weekend, when it’s mostly dry.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Ted Cruz tried awkwardly to get a hug from his clearly-angry daughter on the campaign trail.

Bernie Sanders sang "This Land is Your Land" with Vampire Weekend at a rally:

Check out a 360-degree view of the thousands of people who rallied for Sanders on Saturday:

A Trump supporter asked for hugs at a Sanders rally:

Trump's plane pulled up to a rally as the "Air Force One" theme played in the background:

The Clinton campaign released a closing video starring Bill:

Jeb got an endorsement from famed Des Moines gymnastics coach Liang Chow, who has coached Gabby Douglas:

Vermont Public Radio explains how the caucuses work using legos.

Read the Des Moines Register's more traditional guide to how the caucus's work here

A fireball was spotted over Falls Church, Va.:

Finally, Stephen Curry and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy danced with kids as part of a fitness program: