Iowa Caucuses 2020

Live Results And Analysis

Get Caught Up

All of the results are now in, but the race is too close to call, the Associated Press says. Earlier Thursday, the Democratic National Committee called for a recanvassing; the Iowa Democratic Party says it will wait for a candidate to call for one. More background:

Follow the latest updates below.

What To Take Away From Iowa

The Iowa mess over results will likely continue but, at this point, it’s pretty much time to move on. The political world’s focus is shifting to New Hampshire, which hosts a debate tonight and primary next Tuesday.

As for those Iowa results, though there is no declared winner, we can say this — Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are in a virtual tie; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren finished third, several points behind; and former Vice President Joe Biden was fourth, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on his heels.

Here are five takeaways from the caucuses and what to look for as the race moves on.

We are signing off this blog for now, but you can follow our New Hampshire coverage tonight and onto next week at And as always, connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and subscribe to the NPR Politics podcast.

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Major development

100% Results Now In

All precincts have now reported from Monday’s Iowa caucuses. As it has been for the last several days, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in a virtual tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg ends very narrowly ahead of Sanders — about 0.1% and two SDEs. The race is so tight, the Associated Press said it is unable to declare a winner.

— Amita Kelly
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Iowa Caucuses In Virtual Tie Between Sanders, Buttigieg; No Declared Winner

The Associated Press says it is “unable to declare a winner” in the Iowa caucuses with a virtual tie between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg.

With 97% of precincts reporting, Buttigieg is leading Sanders by just three state delegate equivalents out of more than 2,000 counted, or about a 10th of a percentage point.

Iowa’s Democratic Party, which oversees the party’s state caucuses, has yet to report results from some satellite caucus locations, where Sanders reportedly has had a strong showing.

Sanders is currently leading in raw vote totals, despite trailing Buttigieg in the state delegate count.

"The Associated Press calls a race when there is a clear indication of a winner. Because of a tight margin between former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders and the irregularities in this year’s caucus process, it is not possible to determine a winner at this point," said Sally Buzbee, AP’s senior vice president and executive editor.

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What is Recanvassing?

After nearly four days of delayed Iowa caucus results, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez took to Twitter calling on the the Iowa Democratic Party to recanvass votes - and less than 45 minutes later, Perez had to explain what that meant.

The Iowa Democratic Party brushed off the suggestion, saying it will examine and review the numbers if a candidate or multiple candidates request it.

So then what does recanvassing mean specifically for Iowa?

Simply put - recanvassing is an additional check of each Iowa precinct’s math worksheets used to calculate the amount of state delegate equivalents (or SDEs) given to each candidate.

Also - remember SDE’s are not delegates but they are the measure of caucus-goers’ support then used to calculate the proportional amount of delegates a candidate should get from each precinct.

So recanvassing is making sure that the math of that process was done correctly - since the worksheets used directly influence how many SDEs are reported - which then affects the actual state delegate count for a candidate.

So it’s not a recount - it’s an additional check.

To give a real-life example: it’s like a math teacher going through your homework one more time to make sure you did it right instead of asking you to completely redo the problems.

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Sanders Announces Big January Haul

The Sanders campaign announced Thursday morning that they raised a whopping $25 million last month — with an average donation of just under $19 — calling January 2020 their “single best fundraising month to date.”

In the wake of the fundraising increase, the campaign also said that they plan to increase staffing right away in preparation for Super Tuesday on March 3.

The announcement comes amid a near tie for first place in the Iowa caucuses - with 97% of precincts reporting and no winner yet called.

As of Wednesday evening, Sanders trails former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 0.1% point - 26.1% to 26.2%.

The campaign also plans to spend $5.5 million on TV and digital advertisements in the Super Tuesday states of Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, California and Texas as well as in South Carolina (which has it’s primary on Feb. 29.)

These ad spending numbers are a large increase for Sanders but remain significantly smaller than the spending totals from billionaire businessmen Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer - who collectively have spent over $446 million nation-wide on advertisements - but remain much lower in the polls.

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Major development

Iowa Responds

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price responded in a statement that the state party is prepared to recanvass if any presidential campaign requests such a review. Rather than recanvass “immediately” as the DNC requested, Price said the party owes it to Iowa to “remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results.”

If a recanvass were launched, Price said, “the IDP will audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns.”

“This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans.”

Price also said that inconsistencies in the data were corrected by paper records. He said the party is working to release the results from the final 54 precincts.

“Going forward, we are fully committed to the integrity of the preferences expressed by dedicated, passionate, and fervent Iowa Democrats,” he said.

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Major development

DNC Chair Calls On Iowa ‘To Immediately Begin A Recanvass’

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said on Thursday that he is calling on Iowa’s Democratic Party to “immediately begin a recanvass” amid days of delays and uncertainty surrounding results from the Iowa caucuses.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg remained locked in a razor-close battle that is still too close to call with about 97% of precincts reporting.

The announcement from Perez comes just as reports are beginning to surface of tallies not adding up and other inconsistencies from some of the more than 1,700 caucus precincts.

Maintaining the nation’s first presidential nominating contest may depend on complying with Perez’s request, according to Dennis Goldford, a Drake University professor who studies the caucus process.

“They’re going to have to jump through any hoops the DNC wants them to,” Goldford told NPR.

Perez says a recanvass would entail “a review of the worksheets from each caucus site to ensure accuracy,” but hasn’t provided further details about the process or time frame.

The 2020 contest was the first year the state’s party required new measures, including a preference card system.

“They’ve got a heck of a job ahead of them,” Goldford said.

“It’s totally unprecedented,” added Rachel Paine Caufield, another Drake professor who studies the caucuses.

This report has been updated.

— Bobby Allyn and Miles Parks
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Closing In: 97% Of Precincts Now In

The Iowa Democratic Party released more results Wednesday evening. With 97% of precincts reporting, the race remains largely the same. Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a slight(er) lead in the state delegate equivalents count — down to just below 0.1% now.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders retains a lead of about 2,500 votes in the raw totals from the final round of caucusing.

The winner will be determined by the state delegate equivalents, since that is what will eventually determine how many delegates the candidates get out of Iowa at the Democratic National Convention where the nominee is officially chosen.

But delegates are awarded proportionally in Democratic contests, not winner-take-all. So no matter who comes out on top, both Buttigieg and Sanders will get a significant chunk of Iowa’s delegates.

Iowa only awards about 1% of the total Democratic delegates available nationwide.

This report has been updated.

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We Now Have 86% Of Results In

More results, the same trend.

With 86% of precincts now reporting, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continue to be neck and neck, with Buttigieg leading in terms of State Delegate Equivalents and Sanders ahead in raw vote totals.

But remember: The delegate tabulation determines the winner of the caucuses.

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Now Three-Quarters Of Results Are In

With approximately 75% of precincts in, the results of the Iowa caucuses remain unchanged.

Pete Buttigieg leads Bernie Sanders by slightly less than 2% points in State Delegate Equivalents, which determine the winner. Sanders leads Buttigieg by more than 1,000 votes in the raw totals from final caucus alignment.

The Associated Press is characterizing the race as too early to call.

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Biden Calls Iowa Result ‘A Gut Punch’ And Goes After Rivals

Former Vice President Joe Biden, on the campaign trail now in New Hampshire, today called his apparent fourth-place showing in Iowa a “gut punch.” He then leveled criticisms of opponents Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, the current top vote-getters in the Iowa caucuses.

"I’m not gonna sugarcoat it,” Biden reportedly said at an event in Somersworth. “We took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process took a gut punch. But look, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been knocked down.”

The demographics of Iowa don’t fully line up with Biden’s base of support. Iowa’s caucuses were more than 90% white, and Biden has strong support with black voters. But the result in Iowa is disappointing for the Biden campaign, given that the former vice president had been at or near the top of polls there.

Biden is viewed favorably with older voters, but entrance polls from the Associated Press and Fox News showed Biden splitting the 65-plus vote with fellow moderates Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Buttigieg. What that suggests is what was seen on the ground at multiple events — that some voters who were open to caucusing for Biden came away less impressed after seeing him in person.

After noting his apparent disappointing Iowa finish at the event in Somersworth, N.H., Biden went right to the heart of the vulnerabilities of his rivals. He attacked Sanders for self-identifying as a “democratic socialist,” said President Trump would use it against him, and implied Sanders would hurt Democrats down ballot.

He also called Buttigieg a “risk,” because he only represented a city with a small population. And Biden reportedly criticized Buttigieg for the former mayor calling him “part of the old, failed Washington. Well really, was it a failure that I went to Congress to get Obamacare passed into law?" Biden added, “Is he really saying the Obama-Biden administration was a failure? Pete, just say it out loud.”

That is a dare from Biden that also gets to the heart of one of Buttigieg’s liabilities. Biden making Buttigieg’s criticism seem as a shot at former President Obama himself makes it harder for Buttigieg to speak out against Obama’s policies, considering Buttigieg’s current lack of support with voters of color.

All of this highlights how much of a threat to the nomination both Buttigieg and Sanders are to Biden. Biden needs to get past Buttigieg first. Biden has to hope his support in the black community holds up for South Carolina, which has its primary on Feb. 29. That support could erode if he again finishes poorly in New Hampshire and Nevada, which will have their say first.

If Buttigieg continues to do well with suburban and college-educated whites and Biden retains a level of support with African Americans, that split in the moderate bracket of the primary could make it easier for Sanders to win the nomination.

That would be especially true if Sanders wins New Hampshire or at least finishes ahead of fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren there.

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Turnout Appears Disappointing For Democrats

Democrats were hoping for — and expecting — a high turnout for Monday’s Iowa caucuses. The delayed results and app reporting failure have overshadowed the fact that turnout appears to be on pace with 2016 rather than 2008’s record, according to the state party.

Late Monday night, the party’s communications director, Mandy McClure, said, “Early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016."

With 71% of precincts reporting at this point, that estimate looks like it is still on track. Some 239,000 caucused in 2008’s record-setting year. In 2016, it was the second-highest, but just 171,000.

That’s disappointing for Democrats. They were hoping, with their first contest of the nominating season, to show they had a high level of enthusiasm and that they are, to borrow a phrase, fired up and ready to go defeat President Trump.

The mediocre turnout numbers would be surprising, considering every event for each candidate in the days before the caucuses was packed. It may very well be that many undecided voters, who came out to events, decided not to caucus.

Entrance poll data from NBC News show that first-time caucusgoers were way down this year. Just 35% were caucusing for the first time. Not only was that lower than the 57% in 2008, it’s lower than the 44% in 2016.

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Focused On Other States, Bloomberg Now Has More Than 2,000 Campaign Staffers

It’s now Wednesday morning, and we still don’t have a declared winner of Monday’s Iowa Democratic caucuses.

But while most of the presidential candidates are now focused on New Hampshire — which votes Tuesday — former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is elsewhere — and announcing yet another staffing increase.

Bloomberg is in Rhode Island today, after campaigning in Detroit and Philadelphia yesterday.

Also yesterday, his campaign announced that it now has over 2,000 staff members, including a number of people on the ground in all March 3 Super Tuesday states.

Bloomberg is running an unconventional race and bypassing the first four voting states. He has not appeared in any of the Democratic debates to date — though that may change — and has focused his efforts on states that do not vote until later in the primary calendar.

The self-funded billionaire has far outspent his rivals, quickly building infrastructure and spending lavishly in almost every major TV market.

The new staff numbers could be seen as an indication that he sees an opening amid the uncertainty in Iowa and the lack of a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary field.

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DNC Chair: ‘Accuracy Is Our Guidepost’

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez released a statement Tuesday night saying that the DNC has staff “working around the clock clock to assist the Iowa Democratic Party to ensure that all votes are counted.”

"What happened last night should never happen again,” he said.

Perez said that the app intended to help local officials report results would not be used again and that the vendor “must provide absolute transparent accounting of what went wrong.” Here’s what we know about the app.

“Our immediate goal is to ensure that every vote is counted as quickly as possible. Accuracy is our guidepost.”

It is still unclear when the final results will come in. The party released nearly three-quarters of the results on Tuesday evening, showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in a tight race at the top.

— Dana Farrington
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Buttigieg, Sanders Lead After First Results Released

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg leads with about 27% of State Delegate Equivalents, after the Iowa Democratic Party released most caucus results just now.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is second, just behind, with about 25% of delegate equivalents.

Sanders has slightly more raw votes than Buttigieg, 32,673 to 31,353, but remember: The state delegate equivalent count is what’s used to determine the winner. (The full results can be found in the graphic atop this page.)

About 20 hours after the conclusion of the caucuses, the party released the first 62% of results, across all of the state’s 99 counties. It followed a few hours later with more results, for a total of 71%.

It’s not clear when the party will release the rest of the count.

In a news conference Tuesday, the state’s party chair, Troy Price, apologized for the problems that led his organization to delay releasing the results.

He again cited a “coding issue” on the back end of the results reporting system but maintained that the raw data was accurate and secure — and that there was a paper trail of the results as well.

This report has been updated. See this story, by NPR’s Bobby Allyn, for more.

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They’re On To New Hampshire

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has arrived in New Hampshire, meaning all the leading Democratic candidates are now there, ahead of the primary in a week (and the debate there a few days prior).

Sanders has a rally this evening in Milford and then — as he has done the past couple of years — will give his own response to President Trump’s State of the Union address.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., both held events in the Granite State today.

Also from New Hampshire, Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden (and no relation to Bernie), just spoke with our All Things Considered and said that their campaign is “very confident” about their internal data from Iowa and that data shows it’s “very close” in the state.

Additionally, she says they plan to “campaign aggressively” in New Hampshire this week.

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‘I Feel Sad For Everybody Involved’

Suzette Jensen, who helps run the East Des Moines Democrats and served as a precinct secretary last night, woke up this morning feeling sad.

She says she has been getting texts all morning from friends across the country with basically the same message: What the heck happened in Iowa?

“I’m disappointed that this happened,” Jensen told me this morning. “My husband was in the technology business. And with all of his customers, he would push backup plans. You’ve got to have a backup plan. And that’s where I see the failure.”

But Jensen says her caucus site ran smoothly, and she has heard the same from friends at other precincts in Polk County. She says the county Democratic Party heavily pushed training on the new reporting app, but she worries that wasn’t the case in other, more rural parts of Iowa.

“I feel sad for everybody involved,” she says. “This is a volunteer process. We don’t get paid for what we do. And we had all the media breathing down our necks, and because we have a 24/7 news cycle, it’s like, ‘Oh, aren’t we horrible?’ 

Vanessa Phelan, who ran a caucus site at Franklin Junior High and is chair of the Northwest Des Moines Democrats, said everything went really smoothly there, too. Her site had more than 600 people, more than last election cycle, and by streamlining the check-in process, they were able to start right on time — at 7:03 p.m. She has heard from many people that they actually had a better experience this time, and Phelan feels as if her months of careful preparation and planning paid off.

“It’s bittersweet because I feel like on the grassroots level we did really well, and that’s what I’m trying to hold on to,” she said. “I’m certainly crawling through Twitter and seeing all the hot takes.”

Phelan says that when the results are released, she will be confident in their integrity.

“And I’m personally glad that they didn’t rush to report,” she says, “because I wouldn’t want a situation where the state party says one candidate is victorious, and when they actually had a chance to double check the numbers, that’s wrong. I’d rather wait to be accurate than rush something out and be inaccurate.”

Meanwhile, critics of the caucus model and Iowa’s prime spot on the electoral calendar have been emboldened by last night’s chaos. Phelan and Jensen have struggled with this because they’ve both found caucusing to be a really positive experience.

“I’ve enjoyed the personal visits with candidates, the closeness we feel in Iowa,” Jensen says. “If we go to a primary system, do we lose that? And then I feel for my neighbor who works at the Department of Transportation and was on call last night and couldn’t come to caucus. So all those people that can’t caucus, who are cut out of the system, then maybe a primary system is better.”

For Phelan, caucusing for the first time back in 2016 is what spurred her into civic activism.

“I don’t know what to say,” Phelan said. “Because it is kind of a byzantine process. It’s not an accessible process. But at the same time, it’s a process that really changed my life, and I do really love being in a room with my neighbors and talking about this stuff. I hope people understand it’s a really cool process, too.”

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Company Behind Results App Apologizes

The maker of the app blamed for the meltdown of the Iowa Democratic caucuses has confirmed its role in the debacle and apologized.

Shadow Inc. has tweeted, “We sincerely regret the delay in the reporting of the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses and the uncertainty it has caused to the candidates, their campaigns, and Democratic caucus-goers.” The company went on to say that the Iowa Democratic Party “has confirmed the underlying data and collection process via Shadow’s mobile caucus app was sound and accurate, but our process to transmit that caucus results data generated via the app to the IDP was not.”

— Brett Neely
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Warren Wants All Iowa Results Released Together

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one of several candidates to have made the Iowa-to-New Hampshire trip ahead of the latter state’s primary in a week.

Warren was asked about the Iowa Democratic Party’s plan to release “a majority” of caucus results later today:

Warren also demurred when asked about Iowa’s place first in the nominating process, saying: “Well, right now let’s get this solved for the day. This is the most important thing. Let’s get the numbers out of Iowa."

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3 Questions – And What We Know About The App

We want to point you to two new stories:

  1. Among the lingering questions NPR’s Domenico Montanaro addresses: What does the delay in results mean for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status?

  2. NPR’s Avie Schneider recounts what we know about the phone app that delayed the results.

— NPR Staff
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Nevada Dems: What Happened In Iowa Won’t Happen Here

Nevada holds its Democratic caucuses on Feb. 22. The state Democratic Party says it “will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus.”

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‘Majority’ Of Caucus Results To Be Released At 5 p.m. ET

The Iowa Democratic Party plans to release “the majority of caucus results” at 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET) today, the party said in a statement.

Added Mandy McClure, the party’s communications director: “Moving forward — just like we would have on caucus night — we will continue to release results as we are able to.”

The party released the statement after a call with presidential campaigns.

The announcement follows an anticlimactic night, as the nation awaited the outcome of the first presidential nominating contest only to end up with no official tallies.

Democratic Party officials blamed “coding issues” with an app that was intended to help transmit results from nearly 1,700 precinct locations throughout the state.

Some precinct captains reported problems logging into and transmitting information electronically through the app. Additionally, staffers complained that the party did not provide proper training on how to use the app.

When precinct officials attempted to phone in total vote counts, some were greeted with long hold periods.

This story has been updated with the party’s statement. NPR’s Bobby Allyn contributed to this report.

— NPR Staff
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Husband And Wife Have Very Different Experiences Reporting Results

Morning Edition spoke with Glenn Hurst, a member of the state Democratic Party central committee in Minden, Iowa, about the delay in posting caucus results.

Here’s some of what he said:

“The app was what I used for my precinct. And using the app was smooth as silk for me. We entered the data — number of people who attended, number of delegates our precinct was supposed to elect and the results of the first and the second alignment — and it spit out the number of delegates and we hit send and off it went to Des Moines, the central location.

“For my wife, it was much different. She had not known she was going to be chairing this caucus, so she did not get to download the app. So she knew she would be calling in her results. And we started to think there might be something unusual when when she had been on the phone for 30, 45 minutes without having been taken off hold to give her results yet.”

— NPR Staff
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Sen. Durbin: Caucuses ‘Should Come To An End’

While Iowa’s senators are defending the Iowa caucuses, one Midwestern senator is taking the opposing side.

Speaking on MSNBC this morning, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said: “I think the Democratic caucus in Iowa is a quirky, quaint tradition, which should come to an end.”

He added: “As we try to make voting easier for people across America, the Iowa caucus is the most painful situation we currently face for voting.”

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Iowa’s Senators, Governor Defend Caucuses

The issues in reporting last night’s results have placed new scrutiny on the caucuses, which had already been criticized for accessibility issues. And that’s apart from concerns about Iowa, an overwhelmingly white state, having pole position in the nomination calendar.

This morning, Iowa’s two senators — Chuck Grassley (above) and Joni Ernst — and its governor, Kim Reynolds — all Republicans — released a joint statement defending the state’s role in the presidential process:

“Iowa’s unique role encourages a grassroots nominating process that empowers everyday Americans, not Washington insiders or powerful billionaires. The face-to-face retail politics nature of Iowa’s caucus system also encourages dialogue between candidates and voters that makes our presidential candidates accountable for the positions they take and the records they hold.

“Iowa’s large population of independent voters and its practice of careful deliberation contributes greatly to the national presidential primary and makes it the ideal state to kick off the nominating process.

“Iowa’s bipartisan first-in-the-nation status helped lead to the nomination of President Obama and has the full backing of President Trump. The process is not suffering because of a short delay in knowing the final results.

“Iowans and all Americans should know we have complete confidence that every last vote will be counted and every last voice will be heard.

“We look forward to Iowa carrying on its bipartisan legacy of service in the presidential nominating process.”

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Iowa Democratic Party Blames ‘Coding Issue’

Good morning! No, we don’t have results from the Iowa caucuses. But we do have this new statement from state Democratic Party Chair Troy Price:

“Last night, more than 1,600 precinct caucuses gathered across the state of Iowa and at satellite caucuses around the world to demonstrate our shared values and goal of taking back the White House. The many volunteers running caucus sites, new voters registering as Democrats, and neighbors talking to each other about the future of our country demonstrated the strength of our party.

“We have every indication that our systems were secure and there was not a cyber security intrusion. In preparation for the caucuses, our systems were tested by independent cybersecurity consultants.

“As precinct caucus results started coming in, the IDP ran them through an accuracy and quality check. It became clear that there were inconsistencies with the reports. The underlying cause of these inconsistencies was not immediately clear, and required investigation, which took time.

“As this investigation unfolded, IDP staff activated pre-planned backup measures and entered data manually. This took longer than expected.

“As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound. While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed. The application’s reporting issue did not impact the ability of precinct chairs to report data accurately.

“Because of the required paper documentation, we have been able to verify that the data recorded in the app and used to calculate State Delegate Equivalents is valid and accurate. Precinct level results are still being reported to the IDP. While our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld.”

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Goodnight … For Now

Iowa caucus night ends with no declared winner, following hours of delayed results stemming from reporting issues from the Iowa Democratic Party.

NPR’s politics team is pausing our live-blog coverage for now.

Several candidates — including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang — addressed their supporters late Monday evening, acknowledging the lack of results and pushing onward to the New Hampshire primary.

The Biden campaign released a statement criticizing the Iowa Democrats’ delays, calling the reporting processes “acute failures.”

The Sanders campaign put out its own report of internal caucus numbers that it says represents 40% of Iowa precincts.

“We recognize that this does not replace the full data from the Iowa Democratic Party,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver wrote, “but we believe firmly that our supporters worked too hard for too long to have the results of that work delayed.”

The Iowa Democratic Party also held a call with the Democratic presidential campaigns. Several campaign sources tell NPR that the call was heated and the party did not say when the caucus results would be released.

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Sanders Supporters React To Late Results

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters are gathered in a hotel ballroom in Des Moines anxiously awaiting caucus results. They’ve heard from the Vermont senator himself, who jokingly said he expects to get the results at “some point,” along with prominent surrogates trying to maintain the energy as the event drags on into the late hours of the night.

Emotions range from annoyance to concerns over interference in the reporting of results.

Gayla Wolcott, 20, says it’s a challenge to wait for the results. “Everyone is really tired,” she sighs. “Everyone’s been working really hard, but it’s a process. At the end of the day, like, it’s probably no one’s fault.” But then she shrugs. “Well, maybe it’s someone’s fault. I don’t know.”

But Josh Sebert of Des Moines is worried that the lack of a results announcement could have a sinister cause. It’s the first time he has experienced delayed results at a caucus.

“I’m a little worried that there’s some shenanigans going on, but I hope not,” he says. “The thing is that everybody left their precincts knowing what the results were. So if they do try to fiddle with them, it’s gonna be pretty obvious in retrospect — people are gonna be able to figure it out. I don’t think they’re dumb enough to try to fiddle [with] them.”

Sebert says Sanders received five delegates at his precinct, followed by Elizabeth Warren with two delegates. He worries that the two candidates could split the progressive vote.

Joseph Arceneaux of West Des Moines cautions that although it’s frustrating to wait, he thinks interference is unlikely. He says, “Statistically speaking, interference in an election is the least likely option just because I’ve been [working] in tech a long time and have seen a lot of bad user experiences and I’ve used at least three different apps during this campaign.” He calls the system “totally dysfunctional.”

“To me … a better job could have been done,” he says.

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Amid Stalled Vote Tally, Candidates Address Voters

As problems with a mobile app through which vote tallies were transmitted electronically caused a delay in the reporting of Iowa caucus results on Monday night, Democratic candidates seized the moment to fire up their supporters.

Several Democratic contenders delivered what sounded like victory speeches, even though state party officials have not yet released vote totals.

It is unclear when officials plan on announcing the results.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “We are punching above our weight,” and added that her campaign is feeling strong and ready for New Hampshire.

Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted that “it looks like it’s going to be a long night,” adding, “I’m feeling good.”

Biden said, “Indications are it’s going to be close. We’re going to walk out of here with our share of delegates. We feel good about where we are.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed equal confidence with the outcome of the state’s caucuses.

“When those results are announced, I have a good feeling, we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa,” Sanders said.

And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren echoed that the caucuses appear to show a tight race, but she said one thing was also clear: “Americans have a hunger for big structural change.”

Added Warren: “Tonight you showed that when you imagine an America that lives up to its ideals, you can set in motion the process of making it a reality.”

“By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious,” said Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who also acknowledged that the night’s winner has not been confirmed.

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Trump Campaign Slams Democratic ‘Train Wreck’ In Iowa

President Trump’s reelection campaign lambasted the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus result delays, saying problems in tabulating results showed that its opponents are not fit to lead.

“Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history,” Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement. “It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?”

The Iowa Democratic Party has blamed the delays on “inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results” through a new mobile app but emphasized that the app was not hacked.

Parscale noted that the Republican Iowa caucus ran smoothly. Trump won, as expected, beating former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. There was record turnout for an incumbent GOP candidate, Parscale said.

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Biden Campaign Condemns Iowa Reporting System Failures

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign condemned the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus results system after a delay in reporting results.

“The app that was intended to relay Caucus results to the Party failed; the Party’s back-up telephonic reporting system likewise has failed. Now, we understand that Caucus Chairs are attempting to — and, in many cases, failing to — report results telephonically to the Party. These acute failures are occurring statewide,” Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus said in a letter to the state party.

As the night winds down with no results reported, the Biden campaign said it plans to focus on campaigning in New Hampshire.

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How Do You Break A Tie During A Caucus? A Coin Toss

Across some of Iowa’s more than 1,600 precincts on Monday night, two candidates garnered the same number of votes. How is the tie broken? With a coin toss.

The coin flip victors do not usually have an impact on who takes the state. In 2016, for instance, about a dozen coin tosses were reported. But it is yet another quirk in the rules governing the state’s in-person presidential nominating process.

According to Iowa state law, “If more than the requisite number of persons, including presidential electors, are found to have an equal and the highest number of votes, the election of one of them shall be determined by lot.”

It’s unclear how many times a guess of heads or tails determined deadlocked districts on Monday night, but a number of recorded coin tosses shared on social media indicate that some precincts reached finality only after flipping a coin.

Back in 2016, videos of coin tosses stoked outrage among supporters of Democratic candidates who lost, as campaigns demanded recounts of the raw votes. But party officials defended the practice, saying tossing a coin was a legitimate way of choosing a winner when voter totals created a deadlock.

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Major development

‘Not A Hack’: Iowa Democratic Party Addresses Delay In Results

The Iowa Democratic Party has released a statement saying the delay in the results tonight is "simply a reporting issue" and not related to a hack of the system.

"We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” IDP Communications Director Mandy McClure said in a statement. “In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."

According to aides with various Democratic campaigns, the IDP is holding a briefing call with campaigns. Details on the contents of the call were not immediately available.

But on the ground, there are reports of app malfunctions that delayed reporting, according to Des Moines County Democratic Party Co-Chairman Tom Courtney.

“The app didn’t work. Things didn’t work out right. I’ve been trying to call for several hours to report my results,” Courtney told NPR. “And I can’t, I can’t, get through the phone. It’s a phone number, and I can’t get through. That number is constantly busy.”

Instead, Courtney said, he’s now going home and will call and report his precinct’s results in the morning.

NPR’s Miles Parks previously reported on concerns over the new use of a smartphone app for reporting results.

— Dana Farrington and Jessica Taylor
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A View From The Biden Watch Party As Supporters Await Results

The crowd is starting to fill in at Joe Biden’s caucus-night party in Des Moines, held in a small event space on the campus of Drake University. Cable TV is blaring on big screens as volunteers and supporters mill around the venue floor, nursing beers and plastic cups of wine.

The staging is more stately than at most of the campaign events we’ve seen this week. Instead of hand-painted signs, there’s a stage at the front of the room set with a backdrop of Iowa and American flags.

Firefighters Reese Isaacson, 29, and Brian Peppmeier, 47, caucused for Biden tonight. “He’s supported firefighters for 40-plus years, and I was happy with how things went in the Obama years, and he was a big part of that,” Isaacson said. “He’s the best candidate to beat Trump in the election.”

Isaacson said Biden was in the top three at his precinct. At Peppmeier’s precinct, Biden came in fourth. “I think we have a lot of good candidates, but whoever comes out of this in the end is who I’ll support,” Isaacson said.

Holding drinks and munching on party mix, sisters Margaret and Mary Fitzgerald volunteered at a caucus site in Mitchellville, Iowa, about 12 miles east of here. “We grew up on a farm near Des Moines. Our parents were politically active, so we have politics in our genes,” Mary Fitzgerald said. “I’m from Chicago, Margaret lives in Minneapolis, and I have a sister who’s still on the family farm, and we said, ‘We have to do something.’ Putting signs up and canvassing is not enough, so we worked the caucus.”

Just 127 people were at that caucus site. Mary Fitzgerald says Biden won the site, followed by Pete Buttigieg and then Bernie Sanders. The Fitzgerald sisters are rooting for Biden. “He’s the only one that has the résumé who can possibly rescue our democracy,” Mary Fitzgerald said. “And his moral compass has been steady for 50 years. That will be such a refreshing change.”

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Bloomberg Is Not ‘Buying a Campaign,’ Adviser Says

Billionaire presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s team is pushing back on the perception that his vast wealth is paving his way in the race for the White House.

“This isn’t a rich guy buying a campaign,” said Tim O’Brien, the senior adviser for Bloomberg’s campaign. “This is a purposeful, publicly spirited individual who sees this election as the culmination of his life’s work, and he’s putting his resources behind it,” O’Brien told NPR.

Bloomberg has shelled out more than $250 million since his campaign launched in November. The New York Times estimated Bloomberg’s 60-second Super Bowl ad alone set the campaign back $10 million.

O’Brien noted that some national polls show Bloomberg sitting among the top four Democratic candidates — a result, O’Brien said, that could not happen through advertising alone. Voters have come to know about Bloomberg from the “thorough” campaign structure the candidate has built, O’Brien said.

— Meredith Roaten, NPR Washington Desk Intern
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Major development

Iowa Democratic Caucus Results Delayed Due To ‘Quality Checks’

It’s almost three hours since the Iowa Democratic caucuses began, and we are no closer to knowing who may win the most delegates out of the state.

Just before 11 p.m. ET, the Iowa Democratic Party put out a statement saying that the complicated reporting process is at least one reason for the delay.

"The integrity of the results is paramount. We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time. What we know right now is that around 25% of precincts have reported, and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016,” said state party communications director Mandy McClure.

At this time in 2016 and even 2008 — the largest caucuses ever — there was a clear picture emerging about who had the best night. And while there are sparse reports about individual precincts, the Iowa Democratic Party has yet to report its state delegate equivalent numbers, which are the benchmarks that the Associated Press and NPR will use to determine a winner.

But, as McClure notes, the party is now also reporting out the first wave of caucus alignments, followed by the final alignment once caucusgoers decided to caucus for other campaigns if their first choice was not viable. NPR’s Domenico Montanaro explained the differences between the three data sets that will be reported.

Des Moines County Chair Tom Courtney told the AP that technology issues appeared to be contributing to the delay. In his county, he said, “an app created for caucus organizers to report results was ‘a mess’ and organizers were instead having to call in results to the state party.”

— Jessica Taylor, Cook Political Report
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GOP Secretary of State Denounces Conservative Group For Pushing ‘Fake News’

Iowa’s secretary of state publicly denounced a conservative activist group and a number of prominent conservative media figures Monday for sharing misleading information about the Iowa caucuses online.

“It’s disappointing to see you spread this #FakeNews,” wrote Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, on Twitter, in reply to Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

The misinformation started with the group Judicial Watch, which published an “analysis” that purported to show that there were counties in Iowa with more registered voters than adult residents.

The Washington Post has a detailed analysis debunking that claim, but here is the crux of it:

“Of the eight Iowa counties listed by Judicial Watch, a single one — Lyon County — has more registered voters (8,490) than adult residents (8,430), based on five-year estimates released by the Census Bureau in 2018. The estimates, however, do not account for population growth over the past two years. And the total number of registered voters includes both active and inactive voters.”

Still, the claim went viral and is continuing to gain traction. A Judicial Watch post about it on Facebook has 12,000 shares. A tweet by the conservative activist Charlie Kirk has more than 41,000 retweets.

Disinformation experts often talk about how it’s exponentially more difficult to debunk a viral claim than it is to make one.

This is another example. Pate’s tweet pushing back against the claims on Twitter has fewer than 1,000 retweets.

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Fake News: How To Spot Misinformation

Now that voting in the 2020 presidential election is officially underway, NPR’s Miles Parks has some key ways to spot misinformation as you take in news about the campaign.

Exercise skepticism

Take in any new information, whether it is headlines on social media or a story from a buddy at happy hour, with a bit of doubt. Expect the source to prove their work and show how they came to their conclusion. And try to compare information from a number of different outlets, even if you have a favorite.

Understand the misinformation landscape

Misinformation, as a concept, isn’t new. But the social media platforms for engaging with it are constantly changing and increasing their influence in the media world. Those platforms have no financial obligation to tell the truth — their business models depend, instead, on user engagement. Reducing your dependence on social media will be good for your news judgment (and for your sleep).

Pay extra attention when reading about emotionally-charged and divisive topics

Misinformation is most effective on hot-button issues and breaking news. Ask yourself: Is this a complicated subject, something that’s hitting an emotional trigger? Or is it a developing news story where the facts are still being assembled? If the answer is yes, then you need to be especially skeptical.

Investigate what you’re reading or seeing

What does that skepticism look like in practice? It means asking some questions of what you’re reading or seeing: Is the content paid for by a company or politician or other potentially biased source? Is there good evidence? And are the numbers presented in context?

(The News Literacy Project created an app to help people test and strengthen their media literacy skills.)

Yelling probably won’t solve misinformation

It’s important to value the truth, but correcting people is always delicate. If someone in your life is spreading objective falsehoods and you want to help, be humble. Don’t assume bad intentions or stupidity, just meet the other person where they are and be curious — think about opening with common ground and a question. Try to have the conversation in person or at least in a private online setting, like an email.

For more information on spotting “fake news,” check out the episode from NPR’s Life Kit podcast.

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Impeachment Energizing Trump Supporters, Campaign Says

The impeachment trial has energized President Donald Trump’s base and expanded his coalition, said Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for Trump’s re-election campaign.

“Without a doubt, it sent a lightning rod through our base. They’re more energized than ever before,” McEnany told NPR, recalling crowds of people waiting in line overnight in New Jersey last week to get into a rally.

Trump, who easily won Republican caucuses in Iowa tonight, with a quick victory over former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, is widely expected to be acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday.

McEnany said Democratic candidates — ranging from former Vice President Joe Biden to Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.) — have tacked too far to the left for voters. “We view this entirety of the Democrat field as one socialist organism with many heads,” McEnany said.

— Maya Gandhi, NPR Washington Desk Intern
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Rep. Ryan Touts Biden’s Electability For ‘Revolution’ In White House

Ohio congressman and Joe Biden surrogate Tim Ryan told NPR that he expects the former vice president to stand out from the large field of Democratic candidates because of his electability in larger “key states” that are still to hold their primary races.

Citing Biden’s high poll numbers, Ryan said he expects that Biden will perform well in the primaries of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

“There’s lots of talk in the campaign about ‘revolutions,’” Ryan said, referencing a buzzword used by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters in calling for progressive change within the Democratic Party. “To me, the revolution is getting Donald Trump out of the White House. That is the revolution.”

Ryan pointed to President Trump’s push for an investigation into Biden — a request at the heart of Trump’s impeachment trial — as another signal of Biden’s strength. “When you look at Donald Trump risking his entire presidency to try to destroy Joe Biden, I think that tells you all you need to know about who the best candidate is that can beat him,” Ryan said.

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Sanders Surrogate Counters ‘Communist’ Criticism

Attorney and progressive activist Zephyr Teachout, a surrogate for Bernie Sanders’ campaign, pushed back against Republican criticism of her candidate’s far-left-leaning ideology with praise for his character and for the substance of his ideas in an interview with NPR on Monday night.

Teachout described Sanders as “trustworthy” and well positioned to take on President Trump. The self-described Democratic socialist has amassed a large following, particularly among younger voters, with his poll numbers rising in recent weeks. But the brand of politics that makes him popular on the left also makes him vulnerable to attacks from the right, which has branded him a socialist and communist.

“Well, we already see Bernie Sanders beating Trump in head-to-head polls, and people know that he identifies as a Democrat socialist. What they care about is what he is talking about,” Teachout told NPR.

“I think sometimes there’s a myth of the swing voter as being a voter who is sort of extremely centrist, as opposed to a voter who is independent, a voter who is anti-establishment, a voter who votes on character and trust,” she said.

— Rachel Treisman, NPR Producer
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An Iowa Endorsement Recap

According to the Iowa Starting Line, most candidates have received endorsements from various local officials — state senators, representatives and mayors — although a group of key endorsements continues to be up for grabs.

The Des Moines Register publishes a list of “50 Most Wanted Democrats,” made up of politicians and public figures from the Hawkeye State who are crucial endorsements in 2020, and as of tonight, only 14 have publicly endorsed candidates.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has received the most, at five endorsements, with the latest coming in from Deidre DeJear, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Iowa’s secretary of state. DeJear most recently worked as the Iowa director for Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has received endorsements from some of the top Iowa Democrats: former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie Vilsack, Rep. Abby Finkenauer, Rep. Cindy Axne and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has received one endorsement, from Stacey Walker, the chairman of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been endorsed by Rep. Dave Loebsack.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, an underdog in the Iowa polls, has secured three endorsements from the Des Moines Register list, including those of Cedar Rapids state Sen. Liz Mathis and Sioux City state Rep. Chris Hall.

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Buttigieg Ready To Tackle Racial Inequality, Surrogate Says

The mayor of an Iowa city that is home of one of the largest African American communities in the state is making the case for Pete Buttigieg tonight. Quentin Hart, the mayor of Waterloo, Iowa, told NPR he supports Buttigieg — the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana — because he is confident he will work for positive change.

“Our conversations have always included deep conversations about race and inclusion,” Hart said.

Hart called Buttigieg’s plan to fight racial inequality one of the most “comprehensive” of the primary candidates and he said it addresses systemic issues that African Americans face across the country.

Buttigieg has struggled to win over black voters during his campaign. His handling of a police shooting of a black man in his hometown prompted Buttigieg to admit he could do more to address the racial disparity in the police force.

— Meredith Roaten, NPR Washington Desk Intern
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Satellite Caucuses At 5 Islamic Centers Mark Historic Moment

This year’s satellite caucus sites include five Islamic centers, marking the first time in the caucuses’ history that a mosque has served as a caucus site.

Graham Ambrose, a political reporter at the Quad-City Times, captured the scene at one of the caucus sites in Des Moines. He reports support swelled around former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as supporters switched between English and Bosnian to talk about their candidates.

At the Muslim Community Organization in Des Moines, Sanders swept support, according to Middle East Eye reporter Ali Harb.

Last week, Sanders won the endorsement of the Muslim Caucus of America, a nationwide political network.

The homogeneity of the Iowan electorate has become a prominent discussion in advance of this year’s Iowa caucuses, drawing the ire of figures like Julián Castro, the presidential candidate-turned-Elizabeth Warren surrogate who’s argued that Iowa should no longer be first in the primary process. Muslims make up around one percent of Iowan adults, according to the Pew Research Center.

But caucus sites like these five Islamic centers, or another at a South Sudanese Center in Des Moines, signal the significance these communities can play.

— Maya Gandhi
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Caucus Accessibility

There has been renewed attention this year on the accessibility of the caucuses. Parents who don’t have child care options, employees who work irregular schedules and can’t take time off, and people with disabilities may struggle to navigate a process that demands a lengthy amount of physical presence, often in a crowded room.

Iowa is home to more than 3 million people, of whom about 2 million are registered voters, but the most who have participated in a presidential caucus was about 240,000 for the 2008 Democratic contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In 2016, slightly more than 171,000 people turned out for the Democratic caucuses.

With an eye toward making the caucuses more accessible for all voters, the Iowa Democratic Party has ushered in some changes, including early check-in and a streamlined process for voters to sort out their support for candidates. It has also expanded "satellite caucuses."

But some disability rights advocates say it’s not enough. “It’s like trying to fix your basement foundation with some masking tape,” said Annie Matte, voting outreach coordinator at Disability Rights Iowa. Read more here.

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The Scene From Polk County Precinct 13

Shortly before proceedings officially kicked off, over 100 participants had filled the gymnasium at Moore Elementary School in Polk County, Iowa Public Radio reporter John Pemble estimated. They clustered in groups according to their candidate preference, with a sizable number standing in the “uncommitted” group.

Then came a fundraising pitch to support the Iowa Democratic Party. Envelopes circulated as participants were encouraged to donate $46 — a nod to the presidential position that the candidates are vying to fill — or however much the participants could.

Also making their way through the gymnasium were presidential preference cards, passed out by a volunteer. Caucusgoers stood with hands raised, lowering them in exchange for the pieces of paper.

— Rachel Treisman, NPR Producer
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The View From Drake University’s Caucus Site

In a giant basketball arena on the campus of Drake University, hundreds of caucusgoers crowded the stands to make their choices for president.

At the entrance, volunteers clad in campaign T-shirts waved signs and held out hands with stickers on each finger. Outside the venue, a small group chanted “Go, Joe, Go!”

Inside, each candidate has a section of the arena marked off with campaign placards. Volunteer counters with clipboards walk around to get a head count of how many people are in each camp. That’s underway now.

At first glance, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar have sizable contingents of supporters.

There’s also a packed observer section that includes students from Purdue University in Indiana, a group from a high school in Ohio and scores of media members.

After the first count, there will be a 15- to 20-minute break for caucusgoers to realign with a new candidate if their preferred candidate does not meet the 15% threshold to be viable.

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President Trump Wins Iowa GOP Caucuses

President Trump is projected to easily win Iowa’s Republican caucuses, according to the Associated Press.

Trump did not face a serious threat in the first nominating event of 2020. His only challengers were former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh.

But it’s a victory that Trump’s team will be eager to tout four years after he lost the 2016 GOP caucuses to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and only narrowly edged out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Top Trump surrogates are in Iowa tonight, including Donald Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric Trump and wife Lara Trump. Those family members, along with Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and other top House GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, held a news conference in Des Moines earlier on Monday.

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One Group Not Participating In Iowa Caucuses? The State’s Felons

While Iowa holds the country’s first presidential nominating contest, the state has the distinction of being last on something else: It is the only remaining state where felons are banned for life from voting.

Voting rights groups estimate that some 52,000 people, some of whom committed crimes decades ago, are legally prevented from participating in Monday night’s Iowa caucuses.

“It doesn’t matter what you did. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was that you did it. It doesn’t matter how old you were. If you have a felony conviction, you are disenfranchised for life unless the government pardons you,” Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, told NPR.

The law has a meaningful impact on minority voters. About one in 10 black adults in Iowa is left out of voting, according to the ACLU of Iowa.

More than 90% of Iowa residents are white. And critics of the Iowa caucuses have long pointed out that given that voters must show up in person and spend hours choosing a candidate, it is not accessible to all voters, some of whom have to work or tend to their families or have other obstacles that prevent them from turning out.

Pérez, with New York University’s Brennan Center, said the prohibition can affect generations. “When you have communities where the adults cannot vote, you raise children who don’t vote,” Pérez said.

There is a movement in Iowa to topple the law. A constitutional amendment passed the Iowa House last year and is now pending before the Iowa Senate. Even if it passes both chambers, state voters would have to approve it before it was ratified into law. Last year, the Republican-led Senate failed to advance the amendment, even though it had the support of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. If it moves out of the Senate this session, the earliest it would appear on the ballot would be in 2022.

Some Republicans in the state Senate claimed the proposal was too vague on whether voters would have to complete their sentences before being able to vote. Other Republicans argued that victim restitution should have to be paid in full before someone can cast a ballot. Still others said violent felons, such as those with homicide and sexual offense convictions, should still be banned from voting.

Under existing law, the only way for felons to vote is to appeal to the governor directly. Reynolds has restored the voting rights of hundreds of people who have been convicted of crimes, Iowa Public Radio has reported.

New Jersey, Florida and Kentucky have all taken steps to restore voting privileges to those who have committed crimes, making Iowa the sole state that has kept scores of voters on the sidelines over felony convictions, despite polls showing that nearly two-thirds of Iowans support giving voting rights back to felons.

“All across the country, we have seen movement on this,” Pérez said. “I believe the people of Iowa do not want to be this kind of outlier. The people of Iowa do believe in forgiveness and second chances, and I hope politicians get the message and change the policy soon.”

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Final Travel Numbers

The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary may be scheduled nearly back to back, but when comparing the Democratic candidates’ travel to each state, we see just how many more candidates prioritize visits to Iowa over visits to New Hampshire.

As of late afternoon on Feb. 3., the candidates have held 1,137 events in Iowa and 682 events in New Hampshire.

What’s more, almost every candidate, including the top four polling candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg — have prioritized holding events in Iowa instead of New Hampshire.

Also, the candidates holding the most events in Iowa and in New Hampshire are not leading in the state or national polls.

As of early this afternoon, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Andrew Yang have held the most events in Iowa (at 191 each), and in New Hampshire, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has held the most events, at 117.

The general prioritization of Iowa over New Hampshire could be because of several factors. Historically, the Iowa caucus results have been seen as more predictive for Democrats than the New Hampshire primary; Sanders and Warren have something of a home-turf advantage in New Hampshire with their being from neighboring states; Biden’s name recognition is strong, so he may feel he doesn’t need to campaign in New Hampshire as much; and the primary simply comes after Iowa.

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Questions Remain About Caucus Results App

With caucusing beginning soon, questions continue to swirl about the system in place for individual precincts to report their results to the state party.

Iowa Public Radio and NPR were the first to report last month that the state party would be using a new smartphone app to transmit results.

While security questions about the app remain, the biggest question tonight is usability.

John Deeth, the caucus organizer in Johnson County, which has 57 precincts, says he has heard from "about 20" precinct leaders who have had some sort of issue with accessing the app.

“Download issues, password issues,” Deeth said. “It might be user error; it might just be confusing.”

Amber Mohr, a precinct chair in Shelby County, says she got a number of different error messages when she tried to download the app, so she has decided to just submit her precinct’s results by phone.

Bloomberg and CNN reported similar complaints from county chairs on Monday as well.

The Iowa Democratic Party says the issues it has heard about from across the state have been in line with what it was expecting and that’s why it offers multiple channels to report results.

“The IDP is working with any precinct chairs who want to use the optional tabulation application to make sure they are comfortable with it,” said Mandy McClure, the communications director for the state party. “We’ve always been aware that many precinct chairs prefer to call in results via a secure hotline, and have systems in place so they can do so.”

Deeth, of Johnson County, said he was advising precinct chairs in his county to just use the phone if they have any trouble with the app whatsoever.

“Just get the results to Des Moines however best you can,” Deeth said.

The party has been tight-lipped about the app, declining to name the developer or detail which security experts have performed audits on the software.

While the Iowa Democratic Party says this is to increase security, cybersecurity experts say that this strategy just makes oversight and trust more difficult.

Party officials said in January that there would be a public unveiling of the app for media members before the caucuses, but that never happened.

“It’s remarkable how much opacity there is on this topic,” said Joe Kiniry, chief scientist of the election technology company Free & Fair.

Iowa Public Radio’s Kate Payne contributed to this report.

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Bloomberg And Steyer Massively Outspend Opponents In Advertising

Billionaire businessmen Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg collectively make up 78% of the total amount spent on advertising in the presidential race, according to Jan. 31 data from Advertising Analytics.

Despite announcing his candidacy in late November, Bloomberg has spent over $300 million on advertising, with $254 million going to broadcast and cable TV ads as well as $44 million to digital ads.

What’s more, Bloomberg is not focusing on the early caucus and primary states and is instead catering his advertisements to larger states with more delegates and later primary contests.

Steyer, who announced his candidacy in July, has also spent a significant amount of money on ads — totaling $145 million.

After Bloomberg and Steyer, the rest of the Democratic field has spent significantly less.

Bernie Sanders has spent $31 million on ads, followed by Pete Buttigieg ($28 million), Elizabeth Warren ($21 million) and Joe Biden ($17 million.)

As of Jan 31., President Trump’s total ad spending is much lower than what either the Steyer or Bloomberg campaign is shelling out, but it’s still higher than that of any of the Democratic candidates leading the field.

Trump has spent a total of $52 million on advertising, with $36 million specifically allotted to digital ads — numbers that are comparatively small next to the Democrats’ grand total of $573 million.

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For Sanders, It’s Also About Turnout

“We fit a lot of people into a small room,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders at a meet-and-greet at his Newton field office over the weekend. The room was at capacity with 150 people, all fanning themselves to keep cool.

Sanders called the campaign “a tight race” and said a victory in Monday’s caucuses depends on turnout. “If we have low turnout,” he said, “we lose.”

But despite the close quarters and heat, people were enthusiastic to see Sanders speak.

Jaxine Corum, 60, volunteered at the event and has also been housing young canvassers visiting Iowa for the first time. “They’ve come from all over,” she smiles. “Australia, Morocco, California. …They get so jacked up about going outside and meeting people. We try to give them a background of the community so they have an idea of what they may be running into.”

She says that she supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 and that it was harder to choose this time around whom to campaign for, given the large field. She ultimately decided to support the Vermont senator after her daughter Suzanne started volunteering for him.

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Biden Surrogate Tom Vilsack Says ‘Midsize Turnout Favors Joe Biden’

Joe Biden supporter and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack tells NPR that he is skeptical that 2020 turnout numbers will surpass the record highs set in 2008.

In an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, Vilsack added that a lower caucus turnout could actually benefit Biden.

Vilsack, who also served as agriculture secretary in the Obama administration, has been campaigning with the former vice president throughout the day.

Vilsack: I suspect the turnout is not going to be as great as it was in 2008, but perhaps a bit more than what it was in 2016. In that scenario, I think Joe Biden does very well. I think he 

Kelly: You think high turnout favors Joe Biden?

Vilsack: No, I think — I think an average to midsize turnout favors Joe Biden. I think if there is a large turnout and it exceeds 2008, that may obviously support Sen. Sanders’ contention that he can somehow bring additional people into the process.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has been leading in the Iowa polls for the past week, with the former vice president in second. Sanders has also visited the Hawkeye State more than Biden has — holding 138 events to Biden’s 117.

Vilsack also stressed the importance of delegate counts over the number of raw votes, referencing that precincts will report the first and final rounds of votes in addition to state delegate equivalents — a change that may increase momentum for some campaigns.

“People should be very patient. It may be a long night before we know for a fact how the delegate count came out,” Vilsack told Kelly, adding later, “I think there’s a tendency on the part of some to suggest that that [the raw vote] is equal to a victory.”

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Movie Theater Hosts Satellite Caucus In Arizona

Close to 200 people are gathering at a satellite caucus site in Queen Creek, Ariz., about an hour east of Phoenix. It’s one of nearly 100 satellite caucuses that the Iowa Democratic Party set up around the state, country and world. Event organizer and lifelong Iowan Joan Koenigs said people have come from all over the state, some driving many hours.

Koenigs originally planned to hold the event at her house, but interest was so overwhelming that the caucus will be held in a movie theater instead, an expense that came out of Koenigs’ pocket.

“Hosting this has been rather costly for me. This facility was more than we intended to spend, but the numbers kept growing and there was no turning back," said Koenigs. Shortly after, the caucusgoers passed around a hat and recouped her expenses.

One Iowan called it “the most comfortable caucus” he has ever attended.

Many present are retirees who spend part of the year in Arizona. Among them is Mary Logan of Mount Vernon, Iowa, who spends four months each year in Arizona. She says she saw the recent movie about Mister Rogers at this theater. “Our default is love and caring. That’s what we are craving — being aligned with each other. I may not agree with you, but let’s not hate each other — and [hate] is what has been preached to us for three years from this White House."

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What To Know About The Iowa Caucuses

Voting in the Democratic presidential nominating contest is about to kick off with the Iowa caucuses.

The stakes are high in Iowa — the last four Democratic nominees have all won the Hawkeye State. But after about a year of campaigning and $50 million spent here by the candidates, the outcome is unclear.

When are the Iowa caucuses?

7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET

How long should they last?

About an hour, maybe less this year, because of a rules change allowing only two rounds of caucusing.

When should we expect results?

The first results are expected to start coming in by 8:45 p.m. ET or so. It could take longer if results are close.

Read the full explainer here.

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Iowans Abroad: Progressive Candidates Get Support In Far-Flung Caucuses

Bernie Sanders could be rising in Scotland. Elizabeth Warren may take France.

The numbers are puny and aren’t expected to have bearing on the final results, but some early tallies are beginning to be reported from Iowa’s far-flung voting centers. It’s part of the Democrats’ first-time effort to hold caucuses for Iowans abroad.

Vermont Sen. Sanders won support from nine of the 19 caucusgoers in Glasgow, Scotland, The Associated Press reported, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Warren and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In Paris, meanwhile, a France24 journalist tweeted that Warren garnered the most support, followed by Sanders, Klobuchar and Buttigieg.

The AP reported that the Paris caucus was organized by a 20-year-old first-time voter.

As noted earlier on the liveblog, Iowans in the former Soviet republic of Georgia also completed caucuses. A journalist there tweeted that the results from the Georgia caucus would be made known after caucuses in Iowa take place.

These are some of the dozens of satellite caucuses taking place outside of Iowa, three of them overseas.

— Alex Leff
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What Are SDEs? What You Should Know As The Results Come In

For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party is going to be releasing three separate results at the same time at the end of the night.

  1. The preference vote after the first round
  2. The preference vote after recaucusing
  3. The number and percentage of “state delegate equivalents,” or SDEs, that the candidates are awarded out of each of the caucus locations.

The percentage of the SDEs won is traditionally how a “winner” is determined. NPR relies on the Associated Press to call elections. The AP will project a winner of the Iowa caucuses based on the SDE calculation. One reason for this is not just tradition but because this is the contest the campaigns play for; it is the truer measure of the campaigns’ organizational strength.

Simply put, SDEs are not delegates. But with some math, SDEs are converted to the proportional amount of delegates a candidate gets in each precinct.

There are 2,107 total SDEs up for grabs on caucus night in Iowa. Here’s the formula: Take the number of people in a candidate’s corner at the end of the second (and final) round, multiply that by the number of delegates assigned to the precinct and then divide that by the total number of caucusgoers at the site.

So if Joe Biden hypothetically gets 20% in a precinct that awards 40 delegates, and if 100 people showed up, the math looks like this:

  1. 20 x 40 = 800 (the number of people in a candidate’s corner multiplied by the number of delegates)
  2. 800/100 = 8 (Divide that number by the total number of caucusgoers)

Eight is the number of SDEs Biden would win out of this particular caucus site. Add that to his other SDEs from the other 1,677 caucus locations for an eventual statewide total.

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Here Are The Campaigns’ Closing TV Messages

A look at what the top four candidates are saying to end their Iowa campaigns:

Joe Biden: Biden’s closing argument is a recap of the very argument he made at the outset of the campaign: The soul and the character of the country are on the line.

In his campaign speeches, he focuses on morality more than policy. And in both speeches and ads, Biden suggests he has only one rival: President Trump.

“Every day he’s president, Donald Trump poses a threat to America and the world,” a narrator’s voice says in one of the campaign’s closing ads, called “Threat.”

The ad also displays a series of poll numbers showing Biden beating Trump in hypothetical matchups. “This is no time to take a risk,” the narrator says.

Asma Khalid

Pete Buttigieg: On the stump, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Ind., portrays himself as the candidate with a vision of the future.

A closing ad — “It’s Time” — reinforces that message in Buttigieg’s own voice, heard over scenes of supporters at rallies and town halls.

It’s all about the need for America to “turn the page.” He decries a Washington “paralyzed by the same old thinking, polarized by the same old fights.”

And he talks about his policy priorities, including reversing inaction on climate change, as part of a “bold vision for the next generation.”

Don Gonyea

Bernie Sanders: Sanders’ final advertising pitch focuses on an implied contrast with the candidate the polls view as his chief rival: Biden.

In recent weeks, the Sanders campaign has focused on his steadfast support of Social Security and other entitlement programs and has pointed to several statements Biden had made earlier in his career that indicated an openness to freezing, or even cutting, Social Security as part of broader efforts to trim government spending.

Biden has made it clear he would work to expand Social Security as president, but the Sanders camp sees the issue as a clear contrast between the two, and one of its final ads in Iowa focuses on it.

The ad heralds Sanders as the protector of the program, arguing that to defeat Trump, “we need a nominee who has always fought to protect Social Security.”

Scott Detrow

Elizabeth Warren: Warren has crafted an identity as the candidate with an encyclopedia of policy proposals. However, her closing arguments to Iowans are focused around three other topics: accomplishments, electability and unity.

In her final ads in the state, Warren highlights her endorsement from The Des Moines Register, as well as her work on creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She also has ads that feature Republicans (or former Republicans) who support her.

In one, an Iowa man named Stephen, who caucused for Trump in 2016, is now caucusing for Warren. “For people who say that a woman can’t win, I say nonsense,” he says. “I believe a woman can beat Trump, and I believe Elizabeth is that woman.”

Danielle Kurtzleben

— NPR Staff
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Iowa’s Past Winners, And Some Losers, Went On To Win Nomination

Iowa holds just a small portion of the delegates up for grabs during the primary season, but the stakes in the state are incredibly high. A candidate’s showing in Iowa can launch or sink a presidential campaign.

Seven of the last nine Democratic nominees won Iowa. But only two of those candidates became president: Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter. Most recently, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in Iowa by the slimmest of margins — just 0.3%.

That said, losing in Iowa doesn’t always spell trouble for a candidate. Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump each lost Iowa caucuses during at least one of their presidential bids, but went on to win in November.

In 2016, Ted Cruz narrowly beat Trump in Iowa. And in 2012, eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney narrowly finished second to Rick Santorum. In 2008, John McCain not only didn’t win the Iowa caucus, he finished fourth. But that didn’t stop him from clinching the GOP nomination.

Back in 1992, Bill Clinton opted to largely skip over campaigning in Iowa. That’s because there was a very popular Iowan also competing for the nomination — Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Harkin got 76.5% of the Iowa caucus vote, compared with Clinton’s 2.8%.

And in 1976, the then governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, actually placed second to “uncommitted,” but won the largest vote share of any candidate. His surprise showing in Iowa helped propel him to the nomination and the presidency.

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Caucusing For Iowa In … The Caucasus?

Iowa voters stretch far and wide, way beyond the state’s borders. Here’s a tweet by journalist Joshua Kucera about a caucus site all the way in Georgia — the former Soviet republic.

The voting site in Georgia is one of dozens of satellite locations partaking in the Iowa caucuses. They include the Washington, D.C., area and Arizona, as NPR stations have been reporting.

As Iowa Public Radio’s Kate Payne noted, this is the first time “Iowans living outside of the US could request to caucus somewhere other than their neighborhood precinct.”

— Alex Leff
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Meet Iowa’s Teen Precinct Chair

Still a few years from voting age, 14-year-old Olivia Crum will be chairing a caucus in Iowa’s Polk County, according to Polk’s Democratic Party chairman.

In a tweet quoted by Iowa Public Radio Caucus Land co-host Kate Payne, Sean Bagniewski said on Sunday night that Olivia will be the caucus chair in the precinct of Sheldahl. Bagniewski believes she will be the youngest caucus chair in Polk’s history.

— Alex Leff
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5 Facts About Iowa

Every four years, candidates, reporters and political operatives flood Iowa for one of the most prominent events on the political calendar — the caucuses.

Iowa is basically synonymous with presidential politics, but in case you haven’t been glued to campaign coverage over the past few months, here’s some key trivia to impress your friends when you’re watching the returns tonight:

The word caucus: The origins of the word “caucus” aren’t 100% clear, but scholars say the name likely came from the Algonquin Indian word cau’-cau-as’u. It means “one who advises, urges or encourages” and “to give counsel, promote or incite to action.”

Turnout: The share of Iowa’s voters who participate is fairly low. In 2016, 18.5% of the state’s more than 1.9 million active registered voters turned out for Iowa’s Republican and Democratic caucuses, according to Pew Research Center. That trailed behind the country’s 29.3% overall turnout for primaries.

First in line: Iowa’s position in the calendar lineup was cemented in the Vietnam War era as activists called for broader participation in the nominating process. Iowa’s process was so long, the state needed the extra time to get its delegates counted in time. 1976 was the first time both Republicans and Democrats held their Iowa caucuses on the same night.

Demographics: Iowa’s population has grown by about 3.6% since 2010 to 3,155,070. Thirty-six percent of the population lives in a rural place. About 90% are white. The median age is just over 38.

Precincts: 1,678 precinct caucuses will gather when caucusing kicks off at 7 p.m. CT.

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Klobuchar: ‘We Are On A Surge’

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says her campaign is seeing a boost as Iowans prepare to caucus tonight.

“We are on a surge in our campaign,” Klobuchar said Monday in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition.

“The poll yesterday was literally just a few points behind some of the other candidates that have been talked about a lot, and I was in third place in two polls last week,” she said.

Morning Edition co-host David Greene noted that opinion polls have generally put Klobuchar behind other leading Democratic candidates, and he asked where she sees the rise coming from.

“The kind of support I’ve gotten out there. All of the people that have turned out at all of our events,” she said. “The fact that we have the endorsement of The Quad-City Times, the Iowa City newspaper, every paper in New Hampshire that’s endorsed so far. And we have more endorsements of legislators in Iowa than any other candidate. They’re the ones that are going to be in the rooms where it happens on caucus night tonight.”

She continued, “And I’m only one of two candidates remaining that’s from the Midwest — the very area that we need to win.”

Klobuchar believes she has “really built the kind of support that we need, not just to do well in a primary or a caucus, but to actually win in the general election. To bring back those voters that voted for Barack Obama and then went and turned and voted for Donald Trump.”

“That’s how I’ve run every race,” she said.

Listen to the full interview here.

— Alex Leff
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The Progressives’ Choice: Warren Or Sanders?

One of the big questions of the 2020 primary — especially in its early months — was what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 supporters would do, now that he was running in a field with several other progressives.

As NPR’s Asma Khalid reported from New Hampshire last week, many Sanders backers started out the year shopping, checking out Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in particular, but ultimately came home to Sanders.

One of the most high-profile people to face this choice: Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the House Progressive Caucus. Jayapal, a “Medicare for All” champion, has worked closely with Warren and Sanders, but ultimately backed Sanders, and has been in Iowa campaigning for him in the final days before the caucuses. Speaking to NPR after she met with a group of Sanders volunteers who were about to knock on doors in Greenfield, Jayapal said her decision came down to two things: First, she said, Sanders matched her policy priorities just a little more closely.

“The second point,” she said, “is that I think Bernie is actually the only candidate who is expanding the electorate. And for me, the myth of the likely voter and moving past that to the truth of every voter is the only way we take back this country. And so I am looking for candidates who are just as committed to investing in getting young people and folks of color and immigrants out. And that’s what I see with Bernie, is that that’s what he’s doing. He’s not relying on the regular base.”

Jayapal had just told the group how important representation is to her, and how few women — and women of color, in particular — hold federal office. She conceded it was “tough” to ultimately go against Warren, who’s running to become the first female president. “You know, what I tell people is that as an immigrant brown woman, I don’t have the luxury to think about things from just one perspective. I can’t just look at, you know, gender. I can’t just look at race and I can’t just look at class. My life is such that I have to look at all three and I have to make the best decision about who is going to fight for all three in the most appropriate way.”

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Buttigieg: ‘We Certainly Need A Good Finish Here In Iowa’

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg told NPR’s Morning Edition that the results today will be important in determining what kind of path forward his campaign has.

“We certainly need a good finish here in Iowa,” Buttigieg told NPR’s Rachel Martin in a live interview at the Smokey Row coffeehouse in Des Moines. He refused to say whether his campaign can go on if he doesn’t place first or second tonight.

Buttigieg faces an even tougher road ahead in more diverse states. He polled at just 2% with African Americans in a recent survey from The Washington Post and Ipsos.

“The African American voters who know me best in my own community, for example, are supporting me. And many of my most visible supporters here in Iowa are black elected officials,” Buttigieg told NPR.

“No one is feeling the pain of living under the Trump presidency more than Americans of color,” he added. “Their top priority as I speak to them, so often, is to make sure that we have the campaign that can win. Which, when you’re new, you have to demonstrate on the ground in the places where you’ve been campaigning the most. So our first opportunity to really prove it, not just to tell but to show, that we’ve got the campaign best positioned to deliver that win, that starts right here in Iowa.”

Listen to the full interview here.

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PODCAST: On The Ground In Iowa

The NPR Politics Podcast is taking you to Iowa today. Follow along with Scott Detrow as he and the rest of the podcast team crisscross the entire state, touching down at candidate events in the frantic final 48 hours of campaigning.

They explore the themes of the race — and recover from a couple of wrong turns, as well.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts, or click here.

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Caucus Day Arrives With Energy And Uncertainty

The campaign in Iowa has been marked by uncertainty for months. Four candidates have led the polls over the past year: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and, lately, a resurgent Bernie Sanders.

Our reporting has added evidence to the polling that shows the Vermont senator on the rise, consolidating progressive support. Sanders is confident, but it’s hard for anyone to be certain about how things will turn out tonight.

After all, those top four candidates each pulled in big crowds over the weekend. Buttigieg and Warren have fallen back from Biden and Sanders in polling, but they have strong organizations on the ground to get people out to caucus. That can make a big difference in this unique process, which requires a lot of effort and elicits much lower turnout than traditional primaries.

And while Sanders may be consolidating more support among progressives, the Democratic Party is nowhere near unified around a single candidate.

All of that means there’s a good deal of uncertainty heading into tonight, unless you’re a Republican.

There’s no suspense about how President Trump will perform in the GOP caucuses, but his campaign is making sure the Democrats don’t get all of the attention in Iowa today.

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Buttigieg Supporter Sees A Candidate With Less Baggage

Pete Buttigieg held his last rally before the caucuses in a round high school gym in Des Moines on Sunday afternoon.

Not much had changed in the former mayor’s 11th iteration of his stump speech since Friday, but this time he was interrupted by a big crowd — roughly 2,000 supporters chanting “I-O-W-A! Mayor Pete all the way!”

Not everyone in the room had always supported Buttigieg. Pam Hyde, 52, wants President Trump out of office, but she wasn’t sure which candidate could do it.

“It seems like there’s been a lot of discussion about whether we need to go way left in order to, like, balance out Trump, or whether we should go center to try and get other supporters to our side,” she said.

Hyde finally decided a moderate candidate has the best chance of beating President Trump, but there are other reasons she’s with Buttigieg.

“Pete has a history in the military. He has such a clean record and such a small record being a mayor, that there’s a lot less to pick on.”

— Eliza Dennis, NPR Producer
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The Top 4 Candidates Are Seeing Big Crowds

What’s been striking over the last two days of campaign events is just how big the crowds have been at the top candidates’ events.

The largest crowd so far, by far, has been Bernie Sanders’ rock concert in Cedar Rapids last night. But Pete Buttigieg also drew a massive crowd today to a very large high school gym in Des Moines.

Elizabeth Warren had a capacity crowd of a few hundred earlier today in Indianola, and Joe Biden packed a middle school gym in Cedar Rapids.

The record for turnout in the Democratic Iowa caucuses is 239,000 in 2008 during the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton-John Edwards race.

Seeing the enthusiasm on the ground here for all the top candidates, the state party and the campaigns are preparing to set a new turnout record tomorrow.

The caveat, of course, is weather. As of this writing, it’s an unseasonably warm 52 degrees and sunny here in Des Moines. Tomorrow, caucus day, it’s supposed to drop 20 degrees with a chance of snow.

The Sanders campaign believes high turnout ensures a win for Sanders, but beyond Iowa, it’s clear Democrats have a lot of interest in this election — and they hope that bodes well for November. After all, Obama won the presidency with record turnout; Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency and Electoral College in 2016, which saw the second-highest turnout (171,000); and, in 2004, just 124,000 turned out for the caucuses and John Kerry, who won the caucuses, lost the general election.

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As Warren Tries To Broaden Appeal, Her ‘Fight’ Message May Be Too Much For Some In Middle

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has tried to straddle the line between the no-compromise progressivism of Bernie Sanders and what she sees as the moderate incrementalism of Joe Biden.

One word has come to be a hallmark of Warren maybe more than anything else in her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination: “fight.”

“Fight back,” Warren implored an overflow crowd of a few hundred here on the campus of Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, about 20 minutes outside Des Moines. She had just rattled off various regulations that have been enacted over the years that have made businesses and even kitchen appliances safer.

“Fighting back is an act of patriotism.”

But that signature word may be making it harder for Warren to win over people who might be open to her but also want to win moderates — and the general election in November — especially as Sanders has surged with dyed-in-the-wool liberals.

“The fighter message appeals to Democrats; it does not appeal to moderate people in the middle,” said Dave Everett, 60, of Des Moines.

Everett, donning an Iowa State pullover, said he is leaning strongly toward Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also considering Pete Buttigieg and could wind up with Biden. He said he likes Warren and has seen her at a number of events, but he has lots of Republican friends and neighbors, not enamored with President Trump and looking for something else, but Warren isn’t it.

The “fight” message, he said, “doesn’t give them anything that’s an alternative. It’s a message to ride on that will not appeal to the middle.”

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Trump Prepares Counterprogramming Push

While the Democratic presidential hopefuls are getting most of the attention in Iowa, President Trump’s reelection campaign isn’t ceding the state to them.

Trump held a rally at a filled-to-capacity arena in Des Moines on Thursday night. And the campaign is bringing in about 80 surrogates — including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Housing Secretary Ben Carson, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — to speak to local and national media on the day of the caucuses.

“All of that is part of this coordinated effort to not just reelect the president, but also help all GOP candidates down the line,” says Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Republican Party of Iowa.

The Trump campaign’s director of strategic communications, Marc Lotter, says the campaign’s presence this early in Iowa is also a message to the Democrats who stay in the race past the caucuses.

“It’s good to remind people that whichever of them comes out of this mess that they call a primary you get to get into the ring with Donald Trump,” Lotter says. “So we’re just making sure folks know we’re still here.”

Republicans will also hold their own caucuses tomorrow, and the Trump campaign sees them as an important logistical test for November’s general election. Still, Trump is not uncontested in Iowa. Among those challenging Trump is former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., whose pitch is, “I’m a conservative. But I’m not mean, cruel, ugly, bigoted and chaotic like Trump.”

At a recent event before a handful of people in Polk City, Walsh said it’s been a challenge taking on an incumbent president.

“They’ve tried to make it so difficult for me to compete. I want to surprise him in Iowa. I would be honored and blown away by anybody who wanted to caucus for me in Iowa on Feb. 3,” Walsh said.

Polls show Trump enjoys widespread popularity among Iowa Republicans.

Trump is also counterprogramming on TV. His campaign spent millions to air two ads during tonight’s Super Bowl, and he sat down with Fox News’ Sean Hannity for a conversation in which Trump blasted several of his potential Democratic opponents.

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Sanders Canvassing Events Boast Strong Numbers. But They’re Not All Iowans

At one point during Vampire Weekend’s concert for Bernie Sanders in Cedar Rapids, the group asked how many people in the crowd of more than 3,000 had come from out of state.

The crowd responded with a loud roar.

Scores of volunteers and supporters flooding in from out of state can be a good thing, of course, providing boots on the ground for door-knocking, phone-banking and other get-out-the-caucus efforts.

But it also leads to questions about how much of a candidate’s support comes from people who can actually caucus or vote — and how much is imported.

There’s no question that Sanders has a lot of support in Iowa — he has led several of the polls leading up to Monday’s contest. But this phenomenon of Sanders supporters flooding Iowa was even more striking in a rural basement this week than it was at that concert.

On Friday, dozens of Sanders supporters gathered in a Greenfield home to eat Casey’s breakfast pizza and pump themselves up before canvassing. But the majority of the people in the group can’t actually caucus themselves because they’re not Iowans.

Carlos Moralez drove 22 hours in one day to get from his home in Miami to campaign for the Vermont senator. He says he sees Sanders as a “once-in-a-lifetime candidate.” He’ll spend the weekend doing outreach to the Latino community in Storm Lake.

“I love all his politics, but just his personality,” Moralez said. “I’ve seen even conservatives like him because he’s someone you can trust. He has a consistency.”

Moralez and his friends thought their dedication stood out. That is, until they met Dylan Murphy, who had traveled from Ireland to canvas for Sanders.

“I need to help get this guy elected,” Murphy reasoned, “because what happens in America affects everyone in the world.”

Sanders enters Monday’s caucuses with a surge of momentum. One of the key questions Monday night will answer: how much of that momentum comes from the Iowans who matter in the contest, and how much of it comes from excited non-Iowans who won’t be able to do anything more than organize and cheer.

— Barbara Sprunt and Scott Detrow
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Biden Surrogate John Kerry: ‘70 Is The New 50’

Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been making this joke at the last few events for Joe Biden: “70 is the new 50.”

Kerry, a Biden surrogate, is alluding to the belief among some Democrats that the party should pick a nominee younger than the 77-year-old — and is batting it down.

But Biden draws a lot of his support from older voters, and at his events over the last few days, the crowds have been filled more with baby boomers than millennials.

That was largely the case Sunday when Biden kicked off his final full day of campaigning at Clarke University on the banks of the Mississippi River in Dubuque.

Around the corner from the campus snack shop, Nicholas Wade, a freshman, wanted to see Biden in person, but he’s supporting Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“They say in the primary, vote with your heart. And I like Elizabeth Warren’s ideas the best,” he said. “But it’s tough, because I think Joe Biden has the best chance of winning in 2020. I think sometimes he does struggle to connect with younger voters.”

Ross Benjamin, 30, traveled here this morning from just across the border in Wisconsin. He’s planning to vote for Biden because he thinks Biden has the best shot to win over moderates and Republicans. But Benjamin says if he weren’t worried about all that, he’d rather pick Warren or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who last night packed an arena for a partylike rally featuring the band Vampire Weekend.

“I’ve seen both Warren and Bernie, and they really bring the energizing core to our generation,” he said. “If it wasn’t about electability, it would be one of them two. I want someone who can actually get Donald Trump out of office, so I guess I’m sacrificing self-interest for the bigger picture.”

Peter Jarka-Sellers, 23, drove down from Minnesota last night to see Biden. He describes Biden as a “good, decent guy” whose life experiences really resonate with him. And he thinks Biden’s policy platform is more realistic.

“We’re not going to get to do any of the things we want to do if [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is blocking them, and I think Biden will help us pick up some of the key Senate seats, so I’m trying to think how we can get the most done,” he said. “All of these people are saying stuff that’s further than Congress will let them do. You’re not going to get more than a public option [on health care].”

Tucker LaBelle, a sophomore at Clarke, says he used to swing Republican and now is undecided between Sanders, 78, and Biden.

“A lot of people will say we need someone younger in the White House, but with the experience and history they have, it’s kind of a no-brainer. They’re legends,” he said. “I just like Bernie a little more over Biden because of the way he handles himself in public. I’m a communications major, and I focus on how people speak, and at that last debate especially, I saw a lot more personality out of Bernie.”

At campaign events, Biden has heavily featured freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer as a surrogate, who in 2018 flipped a Republican district here in eastern Iowa at age 29.

“When it comes to Iowa, it is about the future of our state as well, not just our country,” Finkenauer told NPR in an interview after the event. “And making sure we have somebody like Joe who embodies the values I grew up with here in Iowa, where you care about your neighbors and you step up for folks, and you also get things done. And that matters — I don’t care what generation you are. To see somebody who has done that his entire career, who has worked for working families, and that means everything to me, and that’s what we’ve been talking about on the trail.”

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Actual, On-The-Ground Evidence Of Endorsements Working

Every primary season, there’s coverage of which political bigwigs are endorsing whom — interspersed with debate over how much endorsements matter.

For Jayne Hanson from Iowa City, an endorsement is what finally made up her mind to caucus for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“I think probably when Mr. Castro dropped out and endorsed her, solidified it,” she said at a Warren event in Iowa City today, referencing former housing secretary (and former presidential candidate) Julián Castro. “But I had been waffling ever since Kamala [Harris] dropped out. She was my original favorite.”

It’s not that Hanson had been a firm Castro supporter — she had only been considering him — but that he “solidified” her support of Warren.

The evidence on endorsements may be much messier on a broader scale, but cases like this one show the difficult, caucusgoer-by-caucusgoer process of how campaigns win people over.

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Bloomberg And Trump To Make Their Pitches In Super Bowl Ads

Michael Bloomberg has no problem spending massive sums of money to get his message out. Since entering the Democratic primary in late November, the billionaire has already spent $300 million on ads, according to the group Advertising Analytics.

And tonight, Bloomberg will have a huge audience for one of his commercials. The campaign has a 60-second Super Bowl ad that features a Texas mother whose son was fatally shot in 2013.

According to the campaign, the woman, Calandrian Simpson Kemp, has become an active member of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun violence prevention organization that Bloomberg helped launch.

“I know Mike is not afraid of the gun lobby,” Simpson Kemp says in the video. “They’re scared of him — and they should be.”

For his part, Bloomberg said in a statement: “I chose to devote the entire sixty-second ad to gun safety because it matters to communities across the country and it will be a top priority for me as president.”

The former New York City mayor isn’t the only presidential candidate with a national Super Bowl ad. President Trump’s reelection campaign will air two 30-second ads, including one called “Stronger, Safer, More Prosperous.”

“Just as the Super Bowl crowns the greatest football team, nothing says ‘winning’ like President Donald Trump and his stellar record of accomplishment for all Americans,” Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement.

Trump’s campaign was quick to note that it reserved the minute of commercial time in December, marking “the first time in history that a presidential campaign had purchased national Super Bowl advertising.”

According to The New York Times, Trump and Bloomberg each spent $11 million for the 60 seconds.

It’s clear that Trump has noticed Bloomberg’s commercials blanketing the airwaves. Just after midnight last night, he tweeted that Bloomberg “is going nowhere, just wasting his money.”

Bloomberg has even run at least one ad criticizing the president that aired only on Fox News.

Bloomberg is not competing in Iowa, instead focusing on the delegate-heavy states that come on Super Tuesday, March 3. He travels in California, which has 415 delegates up for grabs, tomorrow on Iowa’s caucus day.

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Expat Iowans Prepare For Satellite Caucuses In Sunny Climes

Caucusing requires people to show up in person for several hours on a cold winter night. Facing criticism that the process is exclusionary, Iowa Democrats are trying to find ways to bring more caucusgoers into the mix.

After a previous effort to allow online and teleconference caucusing was scrapped over security concerns, the state party introduced so-called satellite caucus sites that will enable people who work nights, don’t speak English as a native language, or are living outside of the state to take part.

In Queen Creek, Ariz., outside of Phoenix, Joan Koenigs is running a remote caucus site that’s expected to be filled with retired Iowans who spend their winters in sunny Arizona.

“I always felt bad when we missed caucus because we’ve been political all our lives,” Koenigs says. When she found out about this year’s satellite caucuses, she applied to host one at her house, planning to have people gather in bedrooms, the kitchen and patio.

The response was overwhelming, as more than 100 people said they wanted to attend. So instead of hosting at her home, Koenigs is now going to host the caucus at a nearby movie theater.

— Jimmy Jenkins (KJZZ) and Kate Payne (IPR)
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Yang: ‘We Think We’re Going To Surprise A Lot Of People’

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has seen a lot of Iowa in recent weeks. The candidate, who’s long been in low-single digits in polls there, wraps up a 17-day bus tour throughout the state tomorrow on Caucus Day.

He also made a stop today on ABC’s This Week, where he said after that investment of time and energy in Iowa, “We think we’re going to surprise a lot of people on Monday night.”

Yang has raised a solid amount of cash — $16.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 — but, like several other candidates, spent more than that over the three-month period.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, Yang is set to be on Friday’s debate stage in Manchester, N.H., four days ahead of the primary there.

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What This Election Is Really About

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, President Trump is the overwhelming factor determining not just Democratic voters’ choices but which direction voters will go in the general election.

Check out the new essay by national political correspondent Mara Liasson: “What The 2020 Election Is All About.”

— NPR Staff
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Analysis: Sanders’ Saturday Rally A Show Of Force

Bernie Sanders’ rally in Cedar Rapids last night was a clear show of force. An estimated 3,000 diehards came out to see the Vermont senator, who has been surging in Iowa polls of late, and it’s pretty clear from everything on the ground here that Sanders is the narrow favorite.

Crowd size isn’t everything, but in a caucus, energy, enthusiasm and activism matter far more than in a primary. And Sanders has that on his side. His speech last night was almost like a pre-”victory speech” speech. The jubilation, not just from the crowd, but also from the warmup acts of filmmaker Michael Moore to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal to academic Cornel West, it felt like a celebration, like kids before Christmas ready to open their presents.

Sanders was clear, confident and delivering the kind of bold message that really does appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, a wing that has been smarting during the presidency of Donald Trump.

“We are taking on the establishment — both the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment!” Sanders stressed.

Sanders, almost more than any other candidate, channels the values argument not only against this president but also emphasizing what the country should look like.

If the last few presidential elections have been pendulum swings — Bush to Obama, Obama to Trump — Sanders is hoping it’s swinging his way this time. After all, what is more opposite of Trump than Sanders?

It’s notable that Sanders and his surrogates are not just making a pie-in-the-sky argument for Utopia; they are also making an electability argument and paying very close attention to polls showing him beating Trump in hypothetical matchups.

There is a whole debate in the analytical political class about whether Sanders can win in a general election. There are very good arguments on both sides of it, but we will leave that for another post. What is clear here in Iowa is that Sanders is the one to beat in the Democratic caucuses. And at this point it is a must-win for Sanders.

He has raised the bar and needs Iowa to propel him into New Hampshire and beyond and create a sense of inevitability. That’s why his performance tomorrow night here is so key.

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Good Morning! It’s Caucus Eve

The 2020 campaign has stretched on for over a year already. Now it’s actually Groundhog Day, but the campaign in Iowa will soon be finished.

Polls have indicated a very unpredictable race. Many were eagerly anticipating the results of the final poll before Monday’s caucuses, but it was scrapped at the last minute because of an apparent error made by someone conducting the survey.

Meanwhile, candidates are competing with two other big events that happen before the caucuses.

The Super Bowl is tonight, so some of the Democrats are wrapping up their time on the stump by mid-afternoon. Others are holding watch parties for the big game. (There are plenty of Kansas City Chiefs fans in Iowa, by the way…)

Then, once again, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will head back to Washington for the final arguments in the impeachment trial on Monday. They should have time to jet back to Des Moines for the results, though Warren told reporters on Saturday she wasn’t sure whether that would be her plan.

And it’s not just the Democrats on the ground in Iowa. President Trump’s campaign plans to send dozens of surrogates to the state tomorrow — everyone from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to the inventor of MyPillow, Mike Lindell.

We’ll continue to bring you the latest news here until the dust settles on Monday night (or early Tuesday morning).

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Final Iowa Poll Scrapped After Candidate ‘Omitted’ During Survey

It was called “the most consequential poll in politics” by Politico just hours ago, but it won’t be released.

The final pre-caucus survey from vaunted Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer was supposed to come out on Saturday night, but the Des Moines Register, which sponsors the poll along with CNN and Mediacom, says a candidate’s name may have been left out in at least one interview.

“Today, a respondent raised an issue with the way the survey was administered, which could have compromised the results of the poll,” wrote executive editor Carol Hunter. “It appears a candidate’s name was omitted in at least one interview in which the respondent was asked to name their preferred candidate.” Some reports suggest that former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s name may have been skipped during a survey interview.

“While this appears to be isolated to one surveyor, we cannot confirm that with certainty,” Hunter added.

CNN political director David Chalian said, “We take the standards that we apply to our polling very seriously, and to keep the highest possible standards we wanted to present this information to the public.” The news broke just before the network was planning to broadcast a primetime special unveiling the final Iowa Poll results.

In just 48 hours, we may know how the race turned out anyway.

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Steyer Keeps An Eye On Upcoming Primaries

Campaigning in Davenport on Friday, billionaire businessman and activist Tom Steyer told NPR that he’s focused on where voters take the race beyond Iowa.

“There was a poll this week … that had me at an average of 17% in the four early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina,” Steyer told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly on All Things Considered.

He added: “Whoever is going to be the Democratic candidate is going to have to appeal to a diverse coalition. And I’m sure you know as well that I’m doing really well in Nevada and South Carolina.”

Pressed on whether his vast personal fortune is giving him an unfair advantage, Steyer responded, “I’m not saying money doesn’t matter, but it by no means is determinative. What really determines in the end is, do you, in fact, have something differential to say, and do people trust and relate to you and feel that your history supports the idea that you’re the person that they can get behind.”

Hear Steyer’s full interview from All Things Considered.

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Klobuchar Campaign’s Fate May Rest On Iowa

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is touting an accomplishment that can mean something in a state where meeting voters face-to-face is held in high regard. She’s visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties, crossing the final one off the list in late December. Her schedule was accelerated to get that done before the impeachment trial started.

Minnesota Public Radio reporter Brian Bakst was with Klobuchar in Cedar Falls on Saturday afternoon where the campaign leg work was part of her pitch.

All of that effort shows how important Iowa is to Klobuchar’s path ahead in the race, particularly as a senator from a neighboring midwestern state. If she can come in a strong position on Monday, perhaps in one of the top four spots, that can give her a boost. But for past candidates who bet so much on doing well in Iowa, a disappointing showing has sometimes meant the end of the road.

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Assessing Enthusiasm And Expectations For Biden

The rap on Joe Biden coming into Iowa was that there really isn’t much energy on the ground for him.

That’s not exactly the case. A middle school gymnasium in Cedar Rapids was packed on Saturday with a few hundred strong supporters of the former vice president. About a third of the crowd were curious reporters, but the rest were intently listening, some calling out, and focused on one thing — beating President Trump. There’s a worried urgency to the crowd the way there is about the candidate himself.

For all the affection Biden gets from this crowd, there is a clear disconnect between Biden and younger Democrats. It shows up in polling and in conversations here. Biden isn’t even on Sanders supporters’ list of choices. The mention of Biden’s name makes many of them shudder.

And those lines will be drawn on caucus night. Warren and Buttigieg also clearly have strong supporters on the ground here, which could mean record-breaking turnout — something Democrats all seem to expect.

One thing is becoming clear, however — the pressure is really on Sanders. He’s got the wind at his back right now, but he has to win or some of that wind will come out. Biden doesn’t have to. He just needs to do well enough to make it to South Carolina, where he’s the heavy favorite.

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Sanders Surrogate Tlaib Apologizes For Booing Hillary Clinton

One of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ top surrogates, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has apologized for booing Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, last night.

The comments came during an event for Sanders in Clive, Iowa, where supporters gathered for a panel made up of progressive campaign surrogates: Reps. Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

The moderator, Dionna Langford, tried to quell audience boos when she referenced Clinton, saying, “We’re not going to boo. We’re classy here.”

Tlaib jumped in and said, “No, no, I’ll boo.” She then booed. “You all know I can’t be quiet. No, we’re going to boo. That’s all right. The haters will shut up on Monday when we win.”

She was quickly criticized for harming party unity so close to the caucuses and offered an apology on Twitter, explaining she allowed her “disappointment with Secretary Clinton’s latest comments about Senator Sanders and his supporters get the best of me. You all, my sisters-in-service on stage, and our movement deserve better.”

On a podcast published earlier yesterday, Clinton, who topped Sanders in the 2016 primary, reportedly said that Sanders can’t unify Democrats against President Trump. “That’s not our experience from 2016,” she said.

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Amid The Buttigieg Fans, Some Still Undecided

Pete Buttigieg started his Saturday in a suit and tie at the historic National Cattle Congress Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa. Rallygoers filed past neon signs into a domed hall that once hosted musical acts like Buddy Holly.

Overwhelmingly, the crowd was already committed to the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., but there were a few undecided voters who were torn between other more centrist candidates, like Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden.

Laura Sniffin, 62, came from nearby Cedar Falls. Newly retired, her first pick is the Minnesota senator and her second choice is the 38-year-old Buttigieg.

"But that’s the ticket I’d love to see, is Amy and Pete with Amy at the top of the ticket,” she said. “She is a get-it-done individual and I believe Pete is also.”

Sniffin doesn’t think she will know who she’s voting for until she walks into the caucus on Monday. But no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, Sniffin would vote for him or her in November with “no hesitation.”

And that’s because of President Trump.

"He’s made it OK for all these groups to come out in the open and say things and encourage hate and I don’t like that at all," Sniffin said. "All this stuff that has been shoved down, I guess, for many years, all the racism, all the hate and I thought we were doing better, but now it’s worse than ever."

A previous version of this post misspelled Laura Sniffin’s last name as Smiffin.

— Eliza Dennis, NPR Producer
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Caucus Organizers Expect High Turnout

Iowa Democrats across the state are bracing for what could be record turnout for this year’s caucuses. The biggest caucus site in the state in 2016 was at City High School in Iowa City, where 935 people showed up.

“The line of people waiting to get into their caucus site stretched out the door and down the hill some 500 feet away,” said organizer Tom Carsner. This year, Carsner and his fellow organizers are expecting more than a thousand people — who are supposed to fit into a high school auditorium with a capacity for 734.

Problems with high turnout date to at least the 2004 caucuses when John Deeth remembers running out of voter registration cards and signup sheets.

“I never saw the pizza box that people supposedly signed in on, but I did get paper towels back with people signed in,” Deeth recalled.

Still, even if caucus turnout is relatively high, it’s likely that fewer than 20% of Iowa’s registered voters will take part.

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Republicans Slightly Outpacing Democratic Voter Registration

Despite all of the activity around the Democratic caucuses, Republicans have slightly outpaced Democrats in Iowa voter registration, going up 4% to Democrats’ 3.9% since late 2015.

That’s a surprising detail that should worry Democrats who are hoping to make Iowa competitive this fall against President Trump.

Overall, Republicans have about a 15,000-voter advantage in the state, which is partly why Trump starts out with an advantage in the state. Trump won the state by almost 10 points in 2016, or 147,000 votes, after it went twice for Barack Obama.

Overall registration:


  • 633,549 (Dec. 2015)
  • 658,191 (Jan. 2020)
  • % change: +3.9%


  • 647,092 (Dec. 2015)
  • 673,194 (Jan. 2020)
  • % change: +4.0%


  • 807,243 (Dec. 2015)
  • 829,020 (Jan. 2020)
  • % change: +2.7%
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‘I Want A More Moderate Candidate’

Joe Biden kicked off a Saturday swing through eastern Iowa at a packed community center in North Liberty, just outside of Iowa City.

Neighbors Rosanne Cook, 75, and John Gross, 77, of Iowa City staked out a pair of seats in a coat closet in the back of the event space.

Cook is planning to caucus for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, but is checking out the former vice president as a potential second choice pick — if Klobuchar does not clear the threshold to stack up delegates.

“I want a more moderate candidate, but I’m looking for someone who has more recent experience in Congress,” Cook said. “Also, to be honest, someone who is younger. I think Joe Biden is a great guy. I’ve liked him for a long time. But I’m not sure he’s the right choice at this time.”

Cook’s neighbor, John Gross, is fully in Biden’s camp.

“There’s nobody better,” he said.

Biden has focused a lot of his stump speech the last few days talking about his ability to bring the country back together.

“We’ll never see normal again, I think,” Gross said. “And the actions of the Senate yesterday [in the impeachment trial] indicate [Republicans are] not interested in governing, only protecting [President] Trump. And I think the Republican Party will never be the same again. And I don’t think it’s going to be easy to bring that back.”

Gross says he knows that’s a monumental task, but he thinks Biden has the best shot at it.

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Sanders Supporters Talk About The Future

Z-Shan Bhaidani says he wasn’t sure whom he would caucus for a few weeks ago, but the narrowing of the field and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s environmental and foreign policy plans “have put me in the [Sen. Bernie] Sanders camp pretty strongly.”

His fiancée, Qynne Kelly, says she has supported Sanders from the beginning and caucused for him in 2016. Kelly works as an associate principal for Des Moines Public Schools and says Sanders’ education proposals make her hopeful for the future.

“My everyday is seeing kids come in as victims of oppression, whether it be poverty or barriers they face as immigrants, lack of health care, huge medical costs — I know what that looks like,” she says. “And for me, if those basic needs are met [along with] free college, what would this school be like if every single kid actually had a true shot at college? This is a world I have yet to see but thinking about it and now that it could potentially become a reality is truly exciting for me.” Meanwhile, Kira Weldon started volunteering for Sanders in Columbus, Ohio, in 2015 but calls the Vermont senator a compromise candidate.

“I’m an actual socialist. I’m to Bernie’s left,” Wedin explains. “But I appreciate that he’s interested in building a workers’ movement.”

Wedin says what happens on caucus night matters beyond the campaign.

“I’m really interested in building the movement in Columbus and using Sanders as a process by which to build socialist organizing in Ohio,” Wedin says. “If he can’t do well here, do we have a chance to do the kinds of things we want to do?”

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Democrats Spent Big Last Quarter

With voting getting closer, the top-tier Democratic candidates sure spent big in the last quarter of 2019.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spent $50 million over the final three months of the year, according to new figures filed with the Federal Election Commission. That’s some $15 million more than he raised over the period.

But Sanders wasn’t alone in spending more than he took in.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., spent $34 million, though he raised about $25 million; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren spent nearly $34 million, but took in nearly $22 million; and former Vice President Joe Biden both raised and spent about $23 million.

The large expenditures left the four candidates with dwindling cash on hand, as the primary season kicks off in earnest.

In addition, their spending was dwarfed by the two self-funding billionaires in the race who’ve blanketed the television airwaves with ads.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent $188 million — remember, he just launched his campaign in late November — while activist Tom Steyer spent nearly $154 million over the final three months of the year.

You can find all of these data points and more in our updated campaign finance tracker.

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How The Iowa Caucuses Work For Democrats

Democratic and Republican caucuses are held in separate locations and are structured fairly differently, with Democratic voters publicly deciding in groups whom they are supporting (as well as now writing down from whom they are caucusing).

There are 41 delegates at stake on caucus night (with an additional eight automatic delegates — previously referred to as “superdelegates” — who bypass this process and go straight to the Democratic National Convention).

There are 1,678 precinct locations in schools, public buildings and sometimes private homes or places of worship. (There will also be 97 satellite locations located in the state, around the country and internationally to accommodate voters.)

The caucuses will begin at 7 p.m. CT and will last roughly around an hour.

There are two rounds of caucusing, and the only way a candidate can get any delegates is if the candidate attains 15% of the room’s support. Here’s how it works step by step:

  1. There’s a call to order, and a caucus chair and secretary are elected.
  2. Caucusgoers separate into groups by their candidate of choice.
  3. Time is usually made for supporters of each candidate to make their cases.
  4. When the groups are formed, the elected chair adds up how many supporters are in each group. Also, caucusgoers will write down whom they are supporting.
  5. Each candidate has to meet a viability threshold of 15%, meaning that the number of people in each cluster has to be at least 15% of the entire group participating.

After Step 5, these caucusgoers’ votes are “locked in” for candidates who surpassed the 15% threshold. This leaves the people who caucused for candidates who did not get 15% of the room’s votes to then “recaucus.”

  1. For any candidate who did not get 15% of the people in the room, that candidate’s supporters have to make a new choice for the second and final alignment.
  2. During the recaucusing process, those remaining will have to do one of the following: choose one of the candidates who did get 15%; choose “uncommitted”; leave; or convince others recaucusing to join their nonviable group and make it viable.
  3. Once recaucusing is settled, caucusing is over. The numbers are tallied and sent to party headquarters via a mobile app.

From there, the 1,678 precinct caucuses create 11,402 delegates, who are filtered to 41 national convention delegates at a mix of county, congressional district and state conventions.

But the number you need to watch for Monday night is the state delegate equivalent. More on those SDEs as we get closer to caucusing.

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How The Iowa Caucuses Work For Republicans

The Iowa Republican Party still plans to hold caucuses for GOP candidates, despite several other state Republican parties choosing not to amid tepid support for President Trump’s challengers.

While Democratic voters publicly declare their candidate preference with movement and debate, the Republican process is much simpler, with Iowans gathering together and voting on private paper ballots.

There are 40 delegates at stake for Republicans on Monday night. Iowa Republicans have 1,680 precinct caucus locations, ranging from spaces in libraries to fire stations and sometimes private homes.

The caucuses will begin at 7 p.m. CT. Here’s how it works step by step:

  1. There’s a call to order, and a caucus chair and secretary are elected.
  2. Presidential candidate representatives speak and make their cases.
  3. Caucusgoers pick a candidate through paper ballot.
  4. Votes are tallied and reported to party headquarters. The information will be sent via a mobile app.

Delegates are then elected to attend county conventions and are assigned to candidates based on the same proportion of votes each individual candidate received on caucus night. This is a change that the Republican National Committee instituted in 2016, after the 2012 Ron Paul campaign garnered an outsize share of the delegates and took over the state party.

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Night Flight: D.C. To Des Moines

When the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump ended for the day Friday night, the senators who are running for president returned as fast as possible to the campaign trail.

After landing late in Des Moines, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren headed to a packed local brewery to rally her supporters.

Warren is one of four senators who have been off the campaign trail during impeachment proceedings. Surrogates including former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, members of Congress and Warren’s husband have been campaigning for her in her absence.

The other three senator-candidates affected by the impeachment trial are Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

The trial resumes on Monday — the day of the caucuses.

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Welcome To Iowa Coverage! It’s Almost Caucus Time

It’s almost time for voters to weigh in.

We’re now two days away from the official kickoff of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, and it begins in Iowa with its traditional (and convoluted) caucuses.

Polls show a very crowded race — by one measure, it’s the tightest Iowa contest at this stage since at least 1980 — with the top tier of candidates all bunched up: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Amy Klobuchar, a senator from next-door Minnesota, has also been rising in recent state surveys. And sizable numbers of would-be caucusgoers have told pollsters they’re unsure of their preferred candidate or are open to changing their minds.

The fluid nature of the large field of candidates and the party’s overarching desire to boot Republican President Trump out of office have contributed to a fair bit of anxiety among Democratic partisans.

And that means all eyes are on the Hawkeye State.

This page will provide the latest news, context on the caucuses themselves, dispatches from the field and some of what Iowans are telling us about the race and the candidates. And then on Monday night, it’ll offer live-updating results. So bookmark it, and come back through Monday.

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