First set of Iowa Democratic caucus results shows Sanders and Buttigieg leading
By Washington Post Staff Writers
Feb. 5, 2020 at 4:32 a.m. UTC
In an early Iowa caucus vote count, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a slight popular-vote lead, while former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg led in a measure of state delegates.
With 62 percent of precincts counted, Sanders earned 26 percent of the popular vote; Buttigieg hit 25. By both measures, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was in third place with 20 percent of the vote, and former vice president Joe Biden placed fourth at 13 percent.
The results were released nearly a day after the caucuses were held, thanks to widespread reporting issues. The Iowa Democratic Party blamed inconsistencies in reporting for the delay.
Even some Iowa caucus volunteers are over the Iowa caucuses
By Reis Thebault
As candidates jostled, some Iowa caucus volunteers engaged in their own debate over two existential questions: Should the caucuses still exist? And does Iowa still deserve its vaunted first-in-the-nation status?
Some were so frustrated with the process, and the attendant media scrutiny, that they were ready to move on. “I think caucuses all across the country should be retired,” said Mike Carberry, a precinct chair in Iowa City and a former Johnson County supervisor. “This is a black eye for Iowa.”
“And we had a black eye eight years ago,” Carberry added, referring to the 2012 caucuses, when the Iowa GOP initially declared Mitt Romney the winner, only to correct itself 16 days later and announce that Rick Santorum had actually won.
“It was quaint when Jimmy Carter won in 1976, but there are so many things wrong with it,” he said.
Critics say caucuses are not accessible to those who work night shifts or have multiple jobs, or to people with disabilities.
Sara Barron, another precinct chair in Iowa City, agreed that Iowa doesn’t need to vote first, citing an overwhelmingly white population that is not representative of the nation at large. “I would love to see a process that represents the diversity of our country,” she said.
But she believes the caucuses are the most open way of casting votes. “The caucus has always been built around transparency,” she said. “It’s a very public accounting for who Iowans stand behind. There are a lot of things to criticize about the caucuses, but you can definitely depend on the data that comes out being about as verified as humanly possible because we are all witnessing it happen in real time.”
Barron said that she’s open to reforms but that any new process should incorporate the best aspects of the caucuses.
In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price demurred when asked about Iowa’s first-in-the-nation voting status. It’s “a conversation that happens every four years,” he said. “Right now, my focus is making sure we get these results out. We will continue to do that.”
Warren urges patience, says she’s glad to be coming out of Iowa in the top three
By Amy B Wang
In an interview Tuesday night on the “Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, Warren didn’t dwell too long on the preliminary Iowa results that showed her in third place.
“Look, obviously, we don’t have all the numbers, but we’re coming out of Iowa in the top three and straight into New Hampshire,” Warren said. “Also, remember, we’ve got 55 states and territories after this.”
Warren used the timing of the interview, about an hour before President Trump was slated to give his annual State of the Union address, and a day before his expected acquittal in the Senate in a historic impeachment trial, to push her case that the election should be centered on rooting out corruption. “Our democracy hangs in the balance, and we’ve got to take this government back from the most corrupt administration in history,” Warren said.
Biden jokes about Iowa as New Hampshire supporters worry
By Dave Weigel
CONCORD, N.H. — “It’s good to be back in New Hampshire,” Biden said on Tuesday night, in a town hall at the IBEW 490 union hall in Concord. “More than you know.”
He joked that the Granite State might be “first after all,” given how long Iowa was taking to tally delegates.
He didn’t dwell on the Iowa results, where he’s currently in fourth place with 62 percent of votes counted. “Let’s wait for the final numbers to come out,” he said. “I feel good so far, though.”
After a campaign event, Biden was asked if he was satisfied. He said he was reserving judgment — and any thoughts of contesting the results — until the final count is tallied. “Last I heard they didn’t have the rural counties counted,” he said.
Biden spent a significant portion of his final bus trips through Iowa in rural areas, often speaking in standing-room-only venues to mostly older crowds, voters who have leaned toward him in Iowa, according to some polling.
He added that he believes the first four states to vote, taken in totality, are “the key,” not Iowa in isolation.
Frank Hagan, 69, arrived at Biden’s Tuesday night town hall in Concord shortly after the first wave of Iowa results was released. “It’s a concern that he doesn’t seem to catch on with young folks,” Hagan said. “That’s really what killed him in Iowa.”
Cathy Capron, 65, said that Biden did not respond as strongly to Republican accusations against his son Hunter and his business activities in Ukraine as he should have.
“All of the stuff they brought up about his son; I don’t believe it, but I do think it damaged him,” she said. “He’s being kind of smeared.”
Ron Kleinschmit, 66, said that Biden was one of his top choices, but he was watching whether Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg could get momentum.
“I like Amy, but I don’t know, she’s in fifth place,” he said. “I like Pete a lot, he’s smart and he’s level-headed. And I’d love to see a gay dude beat Trump.”
Sanders rode his base in Iowa, while Buttigieg drew support from all over
By Scott Clement
Based on preliminary results, Sanders and Buttigieg top the field in Iowa. But entrance polls show they took very different routes to their strong showings.
Sanders drew heavy support from his hallmark constituencies of younger caucus-goers and strong liberals, while Buttigieg was fueled by steady support across a wide array of voters. Buttigieg’s outsize support in rural areas has also boosted him in the delegate race.
Nearly half of 17-to-29-year-olds (48 percent) chose Sanders as their initial preference, according to preliminary entrance poll results, more than double the share of any other candidate. Under-30 voters made up 24 percent of caucus-goers this year, up from 18 percent in 2016. Sanders also led with 33 percent support among caucus-goers ages 30 to 44. But he received far less support — 8 percent — among those 45 and older.
Sanders also won big among “very liberal” caucus-goers, with 43 percent backing the senator from Vermont, compared with 28 percent for Warren. Sanders’s support dropped to 19 percent among those calling themselves “somewhat liberal” and to 12 percent among moderates.
Buttigieg’s support was more steady across various segments of the Democratic electorate. Across age groups, Buttigieg peaked at 24 percent among those ages 45 and older and won 19 percent support among those under 30. Across ideological groups, Buttigieg won 27 percent of somewhat liberal Democrats and 25 percent of moderates, dipping to 12 percent among those who are very liberal.
Iowa leaders identified problems with Shadow app days before the caucuses
By Kayla Epstein
Sandy Dockendorff, a former state rule chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, took her role as precinct captain seriously.
So when she was asked to try an early version of the app to report caucus results, she did. She tested it “vigorously,” she said, running it through several scenarios. She could never get it past one in particular: resolving a three-way tie between viable candidates.
She flagged the issue and received an updated version of the app on Saturday, two days before the caucuses.
On Monday, she was still unable to report her final results through the app. The problem: Her caucus site had a three-way tie. When the app told Dockendorff to hold a game of chance to break the tie and force a new alignment, the app would not accept the new, final result.
She ended up spending two hours on hold trying to report the results by phone. When she finally got through to the Iowa Democratic Party, it took her “three minutes to verify who I was … three minutes to send results, one minute to parrot back to make sure they had it correctly, and that was it.”
Tom Courtney, co-chair of the Des Moines County Democrats, also received an early version of the app.
He also tried to test it, but he could “never could get the practice thing to come up.” So he hadn’t run through any simulations of what he’d do on Election Day, he said.
“The night of the caucus came, my secretary and I got together and couldn’t get on,” Courtney said. “At that point, I called somebody locally, and they said: ‘Why don’t you just do it the old-fashioned way. Call it in.’ ”
The Iowa Democratic Party had set up a phone system where precincts could report results, but Courtney found the line swamped.
“So I took [the app] home with me and tried it again, I suppose for a half-hour, and I said heck, I’ll do this tomorrow,” he said.
In the morning, he emailed and texted his results to a member of the IDP, but as of Tuesday afternoon, Courtney had not gotten word that they’d been received.
But he felt that he had no other option to send in his results. “Something was always wrong,” he said.
A core part of Biden’s message is that he’s the candidate best positioned to beat Trump. At events, he and his surrogates tout polls that show him beating the president in head-to-head match-ups.
Iowans, however, didn’t buy that argument.
According to preliminary entrance polls, 61 percent of Iowa caucus-goers preferred a candidate more likely to beat Trump over one with whom they agreed most on issues, a sign that voters were clearly focused on electability.
Biden had no advantage among electability-focused voters, with 23 percent choosing him as their initial caucus preference, roughly even with 24 percent for Buttigieg. Sanders, Klobuchar and Warren were not far behind, receiving between 15 and 16 percent each.
Biden fared even worse among the 37 percent of caucus-goers who said they preferred a candidate who agrees with them on major issues. Among that group, he received 5 percent support, according to the entrance poll. Sanders led among those caucus-goers with 36 percent support, followed by 21 percent for Buttigieg, 17 percent for Warren and 7 percent for Klobuchar.
Buttigieg is winning the ‘state delegate equivalent’ race. Here’s what that means.
By Reis Thebault
Buttigieg, who so far trails Sanders by about 1,000 votes, still holds a narrow lead in the crucial category: state delegate equivalents, or SDEs.
There are 2,107 SDEs up for grabs, and the number of SDEs that candidates receive on caucus night will determine their share of Iowa’s 41 delegates at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
SDEs are not technically delegates — they are not people — but instead they are fractions based on calculations made at each caucus site across the state. The formula takes the number of people who vote for a candidate in the second of two rounds, multiplied by the number of delegates assigned to a particular precinct and divided by the total number of caucus-goers. Those fractions are then added up across every caucus location and county, eventually generating a statewide SDE total.
Until this year, the Iowa Democratic Party released only SDE counts, and those numbers remain the traditional metric for a campaign’s victory.
Klobuchar’s campaign says she’s in ‘virtual tie’ with Biden
By Amy B Wang
With the Iowa Democratic Party’s initial release of results from 62 percent of precincts, Amy Klobuchar’s campaign is claiming the senator from Minnesota is in a “virtual tie” with former vice president Biden.
Klobuchar spokesman Tim Hogan pointed out that Klobuchar is only 800 votes behind Biden, “with more than 100,000 preferences expressed in the Iowa Caucus final alignment.”
“That is less than 1%,” Hogan tweeted. “We’re on to New Hampshire.”
Earlier, Klobuchar campaign manager Justin Buoen used the early results to try to cast the primary contest as a “five-person race,” though Klobuchar and Biden appear to significantly lag behind Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren in state delegate equivalents.
“Some of Amy’s strongest counties haven’t been fully reported and the current data doesn’t tell the full story,” Buoen tweeted. “We’re in a virtual tie with VP Biden and we look forward to making our case in New Hampshire.”
How the race could change when the rest of the results come in
By Holly Bailey
Sixty-two percent of the Iowa caucus totals are in, but 38 percent remain uncounted, including totals from some key Iowa counties that could reshape the race.
The big one: Polk County, where just 53 percent of the precincts have been counted. This includes Des Moines and its suburbs, such as Ankeny – a growing city that has leaned conservative in past elections but has turned more purple. Sanders has a slight lead over Buttigeig in state delegate equivalents, but unlike in other parts of the state, where turnout was said to be even with or lower than in the 2016 caucuses, several local party officials said they saw an uptick in turnout, which could change the landscape of the race as more results come in.
In eastern Iowa, a little under half of precincts were reporting in Dubuque County – a reliably blue county that flipped to Donald Trump in 2016. It has been closely watched this caucus season as a barometer of party enthusiasm, including whether Democrats who backed Trump four years ago would come back into the party fold. Party officials there had been expecting record turnout. But several precincts in the city of Dubuque struggled to meet their 2016 numbers amid lower-than-expected participation. Biden had been betting on a strong showing in Dubuque, in part because of his deep ties to Catholic voters in the community, and Sanders had been hoping to expand on his support from four years ago, when he defeated Hillary Clinton in many inner-city precincts.
Along with Dubuque, the candidates had devoted much time and energy to courting voters in several other counties that flipped from President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016, including Clinton and Muscatine counties, delegate-rich areas where roughly 40 percent of the vote remained outstanding. Biden, Buttigieg and Warren had visited the counties repeatedly – all pushing the question of electability – and voters at their events were undecided up until the last minute.
In Wapello County, another county that flipped to Trump in southeast Iowa, Sanders and Buttigieg were tied with a little more than 70 percent of precincts reporting. Wapello is a working-class county that has been hit hard by factory downsizing and diminishing retail jobs and where voters tend to be more conservative, and party officials have been closely watching results there, looking at it as a gauge for what blue-collar Democrats want in a 2020 candidate: a centrist approach or political revolution.
As Iowa results trickle out, Bennet and Yang focus on New Hampshire
By Reis Thebault
As Iowa results came in, two candidates poised to finish in the single digits looked forward to next week’s New Hampshire primary.
Yang, who received about 5 percent of votes in the first round and 1 percent after realignment, according to initial data, said in a tweet that his performance was “not far from projections going in.”
“Now to see if we can top that several times over in NH where MANY more people vote on a percentage basis and voting is far easier AND the message hits home most directly,” Yang tweeted. “I think we can.”
He said he was also hopeful that the 38 percent of outstanding precincts might offer him a boost.
“I’ll be interested in the remaining Iowa vote totals as I think there are many counties on the outskirts where we performed very well that have not yet come in,” Yang added.
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who has long been focusing his time and resources on New Hampshire, celebrated his team’s strategy in a series of tweets posted in the minutes after the Iowa Democratic Party announced its partial results.
“While chaos emerged in Iowa last night, we were in New Hampshire holding a town hall and talking to voters,” Bennet wrote. “It goes without saying, the events of last night validated our New Hampshire-first approach.”
One of his campaign’s goals going forward, he said: “Capitalizing on the chaos coming out of Iowa.”
Buttigieg, Sanders respond to early results
By Chelsea Janes and Amy B Wang
LACONIA, N.H. — Appearing at a campaign event shortly after the Iowa Democratic Party released an initial batch of results, with 62 percent of precincts reporting, Buttigieg wasted no time claiming he was in first place.
“This validates the idea that we can have a message — the same message — connect in urban, rural and suburban communities, that we can reach out to Democrats, independents and even future former Republicans,” Buttigieg said. “And it validates for a kid somewhere in a community wondering if he belongs or she belongs or they belong in their community, if you believe in your country, there’s a lot backing up that belief.”
His voice cracked slightly before he delivered the last line. Moments later, Buttigieg returned to his stump speech.
Meanwhile, Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver issued a statement regarding early results.
“We want to thank the people of Iowa. We are gratified that in the partial data released so far it’s clear that in the first and second round more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field,” Weaver said.
In an interview with CNN Tuesday night, Buttigieg said he had no regrets declaring victory early the night before.
“Not at all. This is definitely a victory for this campaign,” he said. “I know we got some more math coming in, but any way you cut it … we’ve been able to do something extraordinary.”
Buttigieg called the early results “the single best piece of news” his campaign has received.
“Of course, it would have been nice to have gotten it yesterday, but this is about the road ahead,” he said.
In early vote count, Sanders holds narrow popular vote lead; Buttigieg leads in delegates
By Michael Scherer, Amy B Wang and Scott Clement
DES MOINES — With 62 percent of votes counted, Sanders held a lead in overall votes while Buttigieg led among a measure of state delegates.
Sanders secured 26 percent of the popular vote; Buttigieg followed with 25 percent. Warren placed third at 20 percent and Biden has 13 percent.
Buttigieg’s tentative edge in state delegate equivalents is most likely a result of him faring better than Sanders in rural areas, where there are more delegates per caucusgoer.
The results represent 62 percent of results from all 99 counties. Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said his organization will continue to verify results, but repeatedly declined to say when the party would complete its count and make public 100 percent of the results.
He said he had no knowledge of the Department of Homeland Security offering to test the app, but said he worked with cybersecurity experts to ensure the security of the apps.
Price apologized deeply for “multiple reporting challenges,” calling the delays “unacceptable” and promised a “thorough examination will follow.”
According to CNN, the IDP did not brief the campaigns before their announcement.
Girl asks Warren about ‘the camps’
By Annie Linskey
KEENE, N.H. – Children frequently fill out the audiences of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s town halls, and every once and a while a boy or girl will ask a question.
On Tuesday, Warren had perhaps one of the her most poignant exchanges with a child who wanted to hear her views on immigration policy and border control in particular.
The little girl had a little bit of trouble getting started with her question. She slowly spoke into a microphone, her voice filling a theater packed with about 500 people here to hear Warren’s first post-Iowa rally.
The girl got going and soon established that her name was Elizabeth, just like the senator’s.
“Oh wow!” said Warren. “Double Elizabeth. I feel the power.”
“I’m seven years old,” the girl explained.
“I’m not” replied the 70-year-old senator.
The conversation turned more serious.
“I wanted to know if … ,” the girl continued, then she paused for seven long seconds
An adult comforted her a bit, and the girl continued, “…if you’re going to close the camps?”
The room was silent.
“The camps,” repeated the girl, stressing her point.
“The camps where the children are held?” asked Warren, seeking clarification.
“Uh-huh,” said the girl.
“Yes,” said Warren. “Yes, I will, Elizabeth. Thank you.”
Shadow Inc., which built the Iowa caucus app, received money from Buttigieg and Biden campaign
By Michelle Ye Hee Lee
Shadow Inc. received roughly $154,000 from federal campaigns and groups in 2019, Federal Election Commission records show. The company billed campaigns, state parties and political groups for a range of digital services, including software rights and subscriptions, fundraising consulting and text messaging.
Among its biggest clients was For Our Future, an independent operation supporting Democrats, which paid the company more than $10,600 for “digital communications.” Democratic campaigns also hired the firm to help with fundraising and digital communications, including the campaigns of Buttigieg, Biden and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), who dropped out of the race last year.
Biden’s campaign paid the firm $1,225 for text messaging, Buttigieg’s campaign paid $42,500 for software service and Gillibrand’s campaign paid $37,400 for software, text and fundraising services. Shadow Inc. also provided services for state parties in Iowa, Texas and Nevada.