Iowa Tonight

Ken AshfordElection 2020Leave a Comment

Even though final arguments are going on in the Trump Impeachment, most Americans have moved on. We know what the result will be — we’ve always known — but it is depressing to get our nose rubbed in it.

Trump hasn’t moved on:

I loathe this man. Even with a win, he whines like a loser.

Schiff is killing it though.

Anyway, Iowa.



The latest Iowa poll from Monmouth University found Biden and Sanders making up the top tier of candidates, with Biden receiving 23% support among likely Democratic caucusgoers and Sanders with 21%. Buttigieg landed at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 15% and Amy Klobuchar at 10% as the other candidates in double digits.A CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released in January showed Iowa’s likely caucusgoers closely divided among Sanders (20%), Warren (17%), Buttigieg (16%) and Biden (15%).Biden and Sanders are at the front of the field for the Democratic national primary, according to the most recent CNN Poll of Polls released Friday.

Each campaign has a kind of enthusiasm engine that needs fuel if it’s going to zoom across the finish line ahead of expectations in the final lap. All the campaigns know that beating Donald Trump is what consistently polls as the top concern for Democratic voters, and in their closing arguments each has crafted an electability argument that they are stressing.

Sanders and Biden both say they can win blue-collar workers that Clinton lost to Trump. Warren pitches her more-ambitious-than-Biden-but-not-as-radical-as-Bernie agenda as the key to both exciting and uniting Democrats. Buttigieg, pointing to Bill Clinton and Obama, argues that Democrats win only when they nominate a fresh candidate of generational change.

But what creates real enthusiasm in each campaign isn’t electability. There’s another layer, deeper and more molten, that drives the activist cores of these campaigns and — especially in this historically unique field — it’s these sometimes hidden layers that may determine Monday’s results.

There’s a lot that’s not often conveyed in campaign coverage but that can be felt deeply on the ground. The conventions of the news business can often be limiting in this regard. What is generally considered campaign news is swings in polls, juicy quotes from surrogates, candidate gaffes, internal staff drama, policy fights, etc. What we are covering when we are at a campaign speech or rally is mostly theater: there’s a stage and a performer and an audience. And the artifice that goes into these productions can create a lot of cynicism, which is mostly healthy and is necessary for accountability journalism.

The process itself is relatively straightforward. In short, Democratic voters at each caucus site gather into groups, based on their preferred candidate. Each group is counted to determine whether a particular candidate is “viable,” usually at least 15% of support from voters, which depends on the caucus site.

If a candidate fails to get 15% of support, then that party can convince others to join their group or abandon theirs in favor of another candidate and so on and so forth, until a candidate eventually comes out victorious and is awarded a majority of the 41 delegate state equivalents. (The caucus for Republican voters in Iowa is a simpler secret-ballot process.)

The caucuses begin at 8pm tonight, with the first set of results likely to be revealed between 8:30 and 8:45pm. And while the caucuses themselves won’t be televised, there are plenty of ways to keep up.

UPDATE – FEBRUARY 6: Well, an app went awry, and Trump voters called and broke down the phone number for precincts to report. This is Day 4 and still no final results.