Iowa Democratic caucuses: live commentary

Live commentary on the US Iowa Democratic caucuses. Also: Sinn Féin surges ahead of Saturday’s Irish election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

9:27am Sunday The exit poll for Saturday’s Irish election has been released.  The governing Fine Gael has 22.4%, the far-left Sinn Fein 22.3% and Fianna Fail 22.2%, so there’s only 0.2% between the top three parties.  The Greens have 7.9%.  The full exit poll is in the comments.  No vote counting in Ireland until tonight AEDT.

5:15pm Friday With all precincts reporting, Buttigieg provisionally wins Iowa’s state delegate count by 0.1%.  However, the AP will not declare a winner owing to irregularities.  We will probably never know for sure who won Iowa’s state delegate count.

Sanders won both of the popular vote measures.  He won the “initial” vote by 3.5% and the “final” vote by 1.5%.

4:37pm This tweet explains why Sanders is doing so well with these satellite caucuses.

4:35pm Late counting Iowa drama!  I’m not sure what the “satellite caucuses” are, but there were four of them, one for each of Iowa’s Congressional Districts.  Three of them have reported, and they are all very strong for Sanders.  There’s still one to go.

With 97% in, Buttigieg now leads Sanders by just three state delegates or 0.15%.  Sanders leads by 3.5% on the “initial” popular vote, and by 1.5% on the “final” popular vote.

10:41am In the FiveThirtyEight post-Iowa model, Biden’s chance of winning a pledged delegate majority has plunged from 43% to 21%, with Sanders up to 37%.  The probability that nobody wins a pledged delegate majority (contested convention) is up to 27%.

10:20am Thursday More Iowa results!  With 86% in, Buttigieg leads Sanders by 26.7% to 25.4% on state delegates, the measure the US media is using to call a winner.  Warren has 18.3%, Biden 15.8% and Klobuchar 12.1%.

On two other measures, Sanders is still ahead.  He leads Buttigieg by 24.3% to 21.6% on “initial” popular votes.  He leads by 26.1% to 25.5% on “final” popular votes after realignment.

4:05pm 71% of precincts are now in for the Dem Iowa caucus.  The latest 9% haven’t made much difference to the figures.

2:50pm My Conversation article on these caucuses is up.  We need to see if there’s a significant impact on national polls from these results.  The next contest is New Hampshire on February 11; polls close by 12pm February 12 AEDT.

There was a big moment in Trump’s State of the Union address today.  At the end of the speech, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi literally tore it up.

10:30am New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says results reported so far are representative of the whole state.

10am Wednesday We FINALLY have more Iowa results.  With 62% of precincts reporting, Buttigieg leads Sanders by 27% to 25% on State Delegate Equivalents, the traditional measure that most of the media has focussed on.  Warren has 18%, Biden 16% and Klobuchar 13%.

On the two other measures, Sanders leads.  He leads on the “initial” popular votes by 24.5% to 21.4% for Buttigieg.  He leads on the “final” popular votes after realignment by 26% to 25%.

8:15pm More than EIGHT hours after the caucuses began, still only 2% has been reported!  I hope we have better results by tomorrow morning.

3:57pm In Ireland, a new poll has Sinn Fein in outright first on 25%, with Fianna Fail on 23%, Fine Gael 20% and the Greens 8%.

3:43pm Nate Silver

3:15pm Turnout at these caucuses in on pace for 2016.  In 2016, 172,000 participated in the Iowa Dem caucuses, well down from the record 240,000 in 2008.  In 2008, the Dems had a charismatic candidate in Barack Obama.

3:05pm With 1.9% in, Sanders is on top with 28% followed by Warren at 25%, Buttigieg 24%, Klobuchar 12% and Biden just 11%.

2:57pm On the Dem side, we’ve only got 32 of 1,765 precincts reporting their post-realignment votes.  Much slower than in 2016, when 85% had reported by this time.

2:55pm In 2016, 187,000 votes were cast in the Republican Iowa caucuses.   With 83% in, 29,000 votes have been cast in 2020.

2:35pm Still only 1.7% counted, with Buttigieg leading Sanders by 1.3% after realignment.  Biden down to 14%.  Hurry up!!

1:56pm In the Republican caucus, Trump has over 96% of the vote.  Republicans love Trump.

1:54pm By “after realignment”, I mean after the initial division.  Candidates polling below 15% in a particular precinct are declared unviable, and their supporters are asked to pick a viable candidate.  Candidates originally declared unviable can become viable if they pick up enough to make it over 15% in the second round.  It’s explained in this Conversation article.

1:50pm The AP has Buttigieg leading Sanders by 27% to 24% on final alignment numbers, followed by 19.5% for Biden, 15% Warren and 14% Klobuchar.  1.3% of precincts are in.

1:40pm The New York Times results page now gives Sanders 408 final votes (after realignment presumably), Buttigieg 380, Biden 310, Warren 277 and Klobuchar 176.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The final RealClearPolitics poll average for Iowa gave Bernie Sanders 24.2%, Joe Biden 20.2%, Pete Buttigieg 16.4%, Elizabeth Warren 15.6% and Amy Klobuchar 8.6%. As I noted in Friday’s Conversation article, polling for these caucuses has often been inaccurate. The caucuses begin at 12pm AEDT, and the process is described in that article. I will begin commenting on the results about 1:30pm after I return from bridge.

Elsewhere, the far-left Sinn Féin has surged in the Irish polls ahead of this Saturday’s election. Sinn Féin is equal first with Fianna Fáil in one recent poll, and two points behind in another. There is a chance that the two dominant Irish parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, will fail to win a combined majority of the seats. Both these parties are conservative. Other parties likely to win seats are left-wing, so a left majority is a possibility.

Polls in Ireland close at 10pm local time (9am Sunday AEDT). Exit polls will be released then, but no votes are counted until the next morning (Sunday evening AEDT). As Ireland uses Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system, it is likely to take at least a few days to finalise all counting.

And in Britain, Boris Johnson appears to want a hard Brexit on December 31, when the transition period ends.

708 comments on “Iowa Democratic caucuses: live commentary”

  1. This doesn’t sound good.

    Democrats had a certain vision for this.

    There would be boundless throngs braving the Iowa slush, aghast at the incumbent and roused by his prospective successors. There would be a presidential field that looked like the country. There would be unity, or something like it, burying intraparty squabbles beneath a heap of agreed-upon progressive policies — or maybe even articles of impeachment to complete the job early.

    And now, well.

    From an event space in Newton, where a hand-countable crowd whispered anxieties about Joseph R. Biden Jr., to a union hall in Ottumwa, where the filmmaker Michael Moore filled in for a Washington-bound Bernie Sanders with talk of democratic socialism and Icelandic gender parity, the restless final Iowa days of this endless pre-primary campaign have less resembled a resistance fantasy than a kind of rolling low-grade panic attack for Democrats.

    It is an angst both long in coming and amplified by recent events, coaxed by the ghosts of caucuses past and the specter of another unbearable failure, three years and three months after the one they swore they would be prepared to redeem this time.

    Impeachment? President Trump’s Senate trial has served only to sideline several would-be opponents tethered to the Capitol and overshadow the rest, while the president, buoyed by a likely acquittal, stormed into Iowa on Thursday to savage them all as the “totally sick left” before an audience that outnumbered any Democrat’s.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/03/us/politics/2020-democratic-primary.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

  2. Confessions

    I’d be reading that through a NY Times filter if I were you. It’s hardly the go-to outlet for unbiased journalism these days.

  3. And the social media disinformation campaign is in full swing.

    The claims of electoral fraud were false, proved untrue by public data and the state’s top election official.

    That didn’t stop them from going viral, as right-wing activists took to Twitter over the weekend to spread specious allegations of malfeasance on the eve of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

    The episode showcased the perils of conducting elections in the age of social media, where volume is more important than veracity.

    The claims came from a pair conservative activists.

    Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch, wrote Sunday morning that “eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than citizens old enough to register.”

    That notion, based on a Judicial Watch report purporting to find similar irregularities in hundreds of counties across the country, is false, according to state officials and a Washington Post review of the most up-to-date data.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/03/conservatives-push-false-claims-voter-fraud-twitter-iowans-prepare-caucus/?itid=hp_hp-bignews3_voter-fraud-155pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ans

  4. The Sinn Fein Surge continues. Today’s Irish Times now has them in front.

    Strange poll results in Dublin with the election 5 days away:
    Sinn Féin 25
    Fianna Fáil 23
    Finn Gael 20
    Labour 4
    Green 8
    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/sinn-féin-leads-way-in-irish-times-ipsos-mrbi-poll-with-highest-support-ever-1.4160461

    Having been bitten in the past by some of the peculiarities of the Hare-Clark method (if you stand too many candidates you can dilute your votes and miss out) Sinn Fein has only stood 42 candidates for 160 seats. Their surpluses are likely to go to the smaller left wing parties.
    The formation of government took 70 days last time and I suspect it will be longer now.

  5. Satisfaction rates for Irish Leaders:
    Mary-Lou McDonald (SF) 41 (+7)
    Micheál Martin (FF) 30 (-3)
    Leo Vadakar (FG) 30 (-5)

    Following on from previous posts. Preference flows in Ireland are somewhat random. It would be ironic if the Civil war parties benefit from SF surpluses

  6. Entrance polls.

    The Edison Media entrance poll provides a first look at the opinions of Iowa voters as they entered randomly selected caucus sites across the state. Below are some of the highlights from preliminary entrance poll results:

    • Beating Trump: Roughly 6 in 10 caucus-goers said beating President Trump is more important than agreeing with a candidate’s positions, according to preliminary entrance poll results. The other roughly 4 in 10 said the candidate’s positions are more important.

    • Voters decided late who to caucus for: Roughly 3 in 10 Democratic voters decided who to support in the last few days before Monday’s caucuses. If those preliminary results hold, that would be up sharply from the 16 percent of Iowans who were late-deciders in the 2016 Iowa caucus and the 20 percent who were late-deciders in 2008.

    • What voters cared about: Iowa caucus-goers were asked what issue mattered most to them in deciding whom to support and health care led the way, chosen by roughly 4 in 10 Democrats. Around 2 in 10 said climate change mattered most, while less than 2 in 10 said foreign policy and income inequality were the most important issues in their vote.

    • Medicare-for-all is popular: About 6 in 10 Democratic Iowa caucus-goers said that they supported replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan, while about 4 in 10 said they oppose such a proposal. The policy has been a key policy division among candidates, with Sanders and Warren endorsing Medicare-for-all while Biden and Buttigieg endorsed a government insurance option.

    • Moderates turned out: Roughly 4 in 10 Iowa Democratic caucus-goers call themselves “somewhat liberal,” while about a quarter said they were “very liberal” and around a third said they were moderate or conservative. That’s similar to the makeup of the electorate four years ago.

    • Twitter: About 2 in 10 Iowa Democratic caucus-goers said they regularly turn to Twitter for political news.

    The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research for the National Election Pool, The Washington Post and other media organizations.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/iowa-caucuses-2020-latest-updates/2020/02/03/10e69dd0-463b-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html?itid=hp_hp-bignews3_iowa-ticker%3Aprime-time%2Fpromo#link-XXF6YYXQ2EZIDJX7D4TJCU2UXA

  7. G’day fellow enthusiasts for the US primary race. Welcome to the world’s greatest carnival of democracy, with which I fell in love as a teenager while reading Hunter S Thompson’s coverage of the 1972 contest for Rolling Stone.

    I suspect that the media is overestimating the importance of the Iowa Caucuses on this occasion. They’ve been important in the past few contests as a key test of the early front runner: eg, in 2008, when Hillary was knocked off her perch by the Obama surge and never recovered. But this time there is no clear front runner, and, given the very unrepresentative nature of the Iowa caucus voters vis-a-vis the overall US electorate (92 per cent white, 60 per cent in favour of a nationalised health system, etc.) – the best we can hope for is for a slight reordering of the current “peloton” – eg, Buttigieg might surge forward a bit and Warren might fall back a bit – and we might see the effective end to the campaigns of Yang and Klobuchar (to the extent that this isn’t already the case).

    Anyway, I believe the results are about to start coming through, so I’d better stop predicting so that I don’t look stupid.

  8. Jake Tapper@jaketapper
    ·
    1m
    Here at Des Moines 47, there are 368 caucus attendees so the viability threshold is 56. Preference groups now huddling to see if they made it.

  9. Still much too early to make any calls, but so far looking as though Buttigeig and Klobucher are doing better than expected and Biden worse.

  10. On the basis of what I’m getting from NBC’s coverage, Buttigieg is the candidate who is significantly exceeding expectations. Warren seems to be doing a bit better than I thought she would. Yang is definitely finished and Klobuchar will be teetering on the brink at the end of the night.

    It’s hard to judge how Sanders and Biden are doing. Sanders is doing well where he was expected to do well (eg, with college students). Biden doesn’t seem to be doing too well anywhere, but then he wasn’t expected to.

  11. Who are his opponents?

    Bill Weld and Joe Walsh. Weld’s a former Republican governor who was Gary Johnson’s running mate in 2016, and Walsh’s a former congresson turned conservative commentator. Neither had a chance in hell, though I thought they might have garnered at least a little more of a protest vote from Never-Trump types.

  12. Actually, I might have written Klobuchar off a bit too soon: although I continue to expect that she won’t make it too far into the primaries: except in the unlikely event that Biden decides to drop out, which would shift everything around dramatically.

    in that context, it might be that the results for Biden could turn out to be a bit more disappointing than I initially thought.

  13. Joe Walsh was a pretty decent sort of rocker before he sold out to easy listening and joined the Eagles.

    But I assume it’s not the same Joe Walsh.

  14. With more votes coming in, Biden’s looking better and Klobucher has dropped right down. Sanders currently on top with Buttigeig a close second. Everyone besides the top five polling well below 5%.

  15. Looking increasingly like Buttigeig might pull an upset here.

    Quite the disappointing result for Biden, I think, and quite a blow for the “most likely to defeat Trump” narrative. If he can’t even convince his own party’s moderates to vote for him, how’s he supposed to convince the rest of the country.

  16. The slow results is apparently because party officials are double and triple checking. Presumably in part because of the disinformation claim on social media by conservative reactionaries.

  17. Quite the disappointing result for Biden, I think, and quite a blow for the “most likely to defeat Trump” narrative. If he can’t even convince his own party’s moderates to vote for him, how’s he supposed to convince the rest of the country.

    That’s a separate issue. Tonight is Democrats choosing from a crowded field.

    If Biden is the Dem nominee then a) there aren’t other Democrat candidates to choose from, and b) he can also appeal to disaffected Republicans and Trump 2016 voters in a way Sanders and maybe others do not.

  18. Trump tried to have a go at Buttigieg at an Iowa rally the other day. The only thing he could come up with was to intentionally mispronounce his name. 🙄

  19. The failure of the Iowa Dems to release the results is starting to look really bad, and – the US being the US – will fuel conspiracy theories and will probably provide some fuel for a Trump tweet in the near future.

  20. Confessions:

    That’s certainly true, but the ability to inspire passion and convince people turn out to vote for you is a crucial part to US elections. Biden, IMO, does not have that, and these results are reflecting that. His key selling point is not his policies or even his personality, but rather the received wisdom that he’s the most electable candidate. Personally, I’ve never really bought that argument – he’s a deeply flawed candidate in many ways, and if he wins the nomination, I fear Trump will eat him alive.

  21. meher baba:

    Do we have any idea of how much of the vote has been counted yet? There seems to be little indication on most websites whether the results being reported represent 1% of the total vote or 99%.

  22. Conf
    “The precincts that CNN are live-crossing to appear to have mostly young people at the caucuses.”

    That was my impression. Iowa caucus is a slog – full of standing around, and jostling, and cajoling. Not to everyone’s tastes, particularly older voters and retirees, who might prefer to stay home on a dark winter’s night.

    The caucus I attended, some years back, was dominated by uni students and academics. Then again, it was held in Ames, a university-based city.

  23. mb
    “The failure of the Iowa Dems to release the results is starting to look really bad,”

    The Dems have to thoroughly check the results coming in. That’s entirely appropriate, given what a chaotic shemozzle the entire caucus process is.

  24. Kakuru:

    Plus there doesn’t look to be much seating the precincts I’ve seen. Given this has been going for over 2 hours it’d be pretty tough for the oldies and less mobile.

  25. From twitter:

    Nick Corasaniti, reporting from Des Moines 4m ago

    Another reason for the results delay: Many precinct chairs abandoned the new app that was built to report results, as users struggled to log in.

  26. Commentators saying that a lot of results from the more rural north and west of the state will come in first, then the urban areas. Which makes sense.

  27. Kakuru: further to your point, this was an amusing observation by one commentator on NBC: “I’ve had more success in getting my son to explain Minecraft to me than I have had in trying to get my mind around how the Iowa caucuses work.”

  28. How do voter turn out numbers look compared to 2016? 96% of republicans voting for trump is not surprising given there are no serious challengers, but how many bothered to vote?

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