The Iowa Caucus counting and reporting debacle has claimed its first casualty. Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price announced via letter that his is resigning his position, saying that he “bears full responsibility” for the glitches and mistakes that caused the reporting errors and massive delays. After the Caucus, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez voiced his support for moving the first voting domain out of Iowa in the next election. At that point, it became clear that local penalties would be paid, and Mr. Price becomes the first to do so.
Three full days after Iowans went to their individual precinct meetings to cast their ballots, we have final numbers and the results are razor thin. While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) placed first in the popular vote on both the first ballot and the alignment round – by margins of 6,114 and 2,631 votes, respectively – it is former Mayor Pete Buttigieg who captured the State Delegate Equivalent category, 26.25 to 26.18%.
The state delegates are the people who will actually apportion the national convention delegates and will do so at the Iowa Democratic Convention on June 13th. The national delegate projection, adding the statewide and congressional district totals, suggests that Buttigieg will come away with 14, Sanders 12, Sen. Elizabeth Warren 8, former Vice President Joe Biden 6, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar 1.
Meanwhile, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, citing the existence of numerous calculation and reporting errors in the Iowa Caucus returns, says the Iowa Democratic Party should recount every ballot to ensure a verifiable count. IDP officials have not signaled any support for such idea, especially since they are still not even finished with the initial count.
The Future Leaders Fund released their Harper Polling survey taken in mid-January (1/11-12; 400 IA-1 likely voters) that found Republican challenger Ashley Hinson, a state Representative from the Marion and Cedar Rapids area and former news anchor, is already running close to freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque). According to the Harper numbers, Finkenauer’s ballot test advantage would only be 44-40% over Hinson.
Additionally, in testing the undecided cell, 51% said they would be less likely to vote for Finkenauer after hearing she had voted to impeach President Trump, while 48% said less likely if they knew the Congresswoman has a similar voting record to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez (D-NY).
The Iowa Democratic Party still has not completed counting the Iowa Caucus votes, but they are finally close. Now, 97% of the tabulations are completed and verified. Though Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led by almost 6,000 raw votes on the first ballot and more than 2,500 on the aligned vote when the candidates recording less than 15% were eliminated and attenders re-voted, he still has a few less state delegate equivalent votes than former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
At the end of the day, it appears that Buttigieg and Sanders will come away virtually tied in the all-important Democratic National Convention delegate category. According to projections when adding the congressional district votes combined with the at-large numbers, and these could change when the Iowa Democratic Convention convenes on June 13th, Buttigieg would score 14 delegates, Sanders 12, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 8, former Vice President Joe Biden 6, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 1.
Turnout suggests that the number of participants will equal the 2016 factor, which is approximately 172,000 caucus attenders throughout the state. The number is far short of the record 240,000 that came to meetings in 2008, however, when Barack Obama, former Sen. John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton competed for the party nomination.
The Iowa Democratic Party, as being widely reported, has now released what accounts for 71% of their delayed vote. As a result of their complicated system, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds an approximate 1,300 statewide vote lead but trails by a percentage point and a half in the number of apportioned state delegates to the Iowa Democratic Convention on June 13th. At that time, the state convention will officially assign national convention delegates to the candidates.
Possibly the biggest story is former Vice President Joe Biden’s poor performance. He has just 15.4% of the state delegates, barely enough to qualify for at-large convention votes.
In a result no one predicted, tangible votes are still not being reported the morning after the Iowa Caucus due to a collapse in the state Democratic Party’s reporting software or vote verification system. Though former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg seems to be claiming victory based on his projections, he does so without any confirmation of viable numbers.
It does appear, from the few precincts that did make the news media, possibly five candidates will qualify for delegates. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) seems to have exceeded expectations, while former Vice President Joe Biden looks to be performing under expectations and was even failing the viability test in several early precincts. A candidate is “viable” for the second round if he or she reaches 15% support.
What comes from Iowa is that five competitive candidates will move onto New Hampshire and a sixth, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, continues to improve his own standing in playing his outside strategy. Mr. Bloomberg is skipping the first states in hopes of scoring big on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, when electorates from 14 states and one territory will vote.
It appears that anything can happen in tonight’s Iowa Caucus vote. What appear to be the final two polls before actual voting begins show two different leaders and potentially as many as five candidates exceeding the 15% minimum threshold in order to qualify for delegate apportionment. Both, however, show Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) making a surge and possibly her campaign peaking at exactly the right moment.
American Research Group (1/27-30; 400 IA likely Democratic caucus meeting attenders) and Park Street Strategies’ (1/24-28; 600 IA likely Democratic caucus meeting attenders) unsurprisingly project a tight finish. ARG finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading the group, as do most other studies, 20-18-16-15-9% consecutively over former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Park Street sees a different order, but with the candidates just as close. PSS projects Mr. Biden leading with a 20-18-17-17-12% order over Sen. Sanders with Sen. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg tied, and Sen. Klobuchar in fifth but climbing into double digits.
Two pollsters’ final Iowa Caucus studies were released yesterday, and both Monmouth University and Civiqs, polling for Iowa State University, reveal basically the same finding. That is, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appears to be in the strongest position while former Vice President Joe Biden and ex-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are also in range to perhaps snatch a first place finish. In any event, it appears that the top four finalists, in whatever order the race ends, will likely qualify for delegate apportionment. With only 41 delegates at stake, each candidate’s committed delegate share will be small.
The Des Moines Register and the New Hampshire Union Leader newspapers announced their endorsements on Friday, but the candidates not being tabbed shouldn’t fret. The DMR endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), while the Union Leader is backing Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MA).
The Des Moines Register editorial board endorsed 11 candidates for the Iowa Caucuses since 1988, inclusive, and only three have won. The Union Leader backing Sen. Klobuchar is not particularly surprising since the paper is known for its conservative bent, and the Minnesota Senator is campaigning closer to the center than most of her Democratic counterparts. Because of its well-known ideological perspective, it’s unlikely that the paper’s editorial board will successfully influence the preponderance of Democratic primary voters. In fact, it may do Sen. Klobuchar more harm than good.
Former Vice President Joe Biden may be catching a momentum wave at a very good time. Recent polling shows him leading in Florida and California, and now a David Binder Research survey (1/15-18; 500 IA likely Democratic Caucus attenders) finds him developing a clear advantage in the first voting state, Iowa. According to the Binder numbers, Mr. Biden has a 24-18-16-14-11% spread over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The Minnesota lawmaker now appears to be making a badly needed late charge in neighboring Iowa.
Though Mr. Biden is projected to have a lead beyond the margin of error, this survey suggests that four candidates would still qualify to split Iowa’s 41-vote first ballot contingent. Therefore, it appears that the party’s nomination battle will be a long fight. The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for February 3rd.
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