On Monday, February 3rd, the 2020 presidential race that feels like it has been on since November 2016 truly kicked off with the Iowa Caucus. This is often marked as  the beginning of primary season. The people of Iowa gathered in schools, city buildings, libraries, and the like to hear pitches from campaign surrogates, debates among themselves, and show their support for candidates. Each party does it a bit differently. Something a bit different happened this year though, in response to the vast number of candidates on the Democratic side. Caucus go-ers who supported a candidate that did not meet the 15% threshold of support at their location were asked to re-align. That meant there were going to be two sets of votes, in a way–one pre-alignment, one post-alignment. The post-alignment one was how the 41 delegates were going to be apportioned. 

You can read more about how the Iowa Caucuses work here

Of course, the Democratic Caucus were the ones to watch. Trump is up for re-election as a Republican and doesn’t have any major party challengers. Two smaller candidates–Bill Weld and Joe Walsh–held caucuses. Trump was declared victorious pretty handily. 

President Donald Trump received 31,424 votes across all the Iowa Republican caucuses on Monday night. Bill Weld received 425 votes, and Joe Walsh received 349 votes. 

Normally, the Iowa Caucus results come in almost immediately, in real-time. That didn’t happen this year. Most caucuses began around 8 p.m. local time. They were scheduled to take about an hour, but time ticked on, and the results were nowhere to be found. Some rumors circulated about apps being down, a few conspiracy theories popped up, but ultimately, it became clear there were some issues with getting all the data into one place, perhaps because of an attempt to use new technology for the first time. 

On Tuesday at around 4 p.m., the Iowa Democratic party released what they said were 62% of the precinct votes–a little over half. At that time, Pete Buttigieg had 26.9% of the vote, Bernie Sanders had 25.1%, Elizabeth Warren had 18.3%, Joe Biden had 15.6%, Amy Klobuchar had 12.6%, and Andrew Yang had 1.1%. Candidates Tom Steyer, Mike Bloomberg, MIchael Bennet, Deval Patrick, and Tulsi Gabbard were all coming in at less than 1% at that time. 

The turmoil continued though, with reports of anomalies, inaccurate rounding, a battle over who could claim victory and who made speeches too early.  As the votes rolled in, it seemed that Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg were neck-and-neck. Some precincts were reportedly even decided by coin toss. Elizabeth Warren was trailing behind them. The man who was once considered the frontrunner, Joe BIden, was even further behind. 

On Thursday, with about 99% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared that they could not name a winner

With 99% reporting, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were both listed as receiving 11 delegates–with Buttigieg receiving a slightly higher percentage of precincts, but Sanders receiving more voters overall — think electoral college vs popular vote. Warren appeared to be set to receive 5 delegates, Biden 2, and Klobuchar one. 

The Des Moines Register called it a “near tie” between Buttigieg and Sanders, and DNC Chairman Tom Perez called for a recanvass. What does that mean? It means this story might not be over yet. 

What does this mean for the Democrats? Well, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do. Something clearly went wrong with the process in Iowa. At the same time, they have to keep going forward. The New Hampshire primary is on February 11th. Super Tuesday is the first Tuesday in March. The race may be closer than initially thought. In fact, it may not be Biden’s like many others thought. No one expected Buttigieg to do so well, and Biden so poorly, in the state. Will that play out similarly in other states? 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton narrowly beat Sanders to win Iowa. Ted Cruz beat out now President Donald Trump. The eventual Democratic nominee won the state in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, and 1996. In 1992, eventual nominee Bill Clinton came in fourth in Iowa, winning less than 3% of the vote. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member