12/10/2020

Iowa Democrats anxious for fundamental political change headed toward caucus centres late Monday to decide the opening contest in the 2020 presidential primary season. The past several Democrats who won the Iowa caucuses went on to clinch the party’s nominati…

Iowa Democrats anxious for fundamental political change headed toward caucus centres late Monday to decide the opening contest in the 2020 presidential primary season. It could bring new clarity to a field that still features nearly a dozen White House contenders vying for the chance to take on U.S. President Donald Trump.
In the hours before the evening caucuses, candidates gave last-minute pep talks and pitches as hundreds of volunteers pressed on statewide. By day’s end, tens of thousands of Democrats were to have gathered at community centres, high school gyms and more than 1,600 other caucus locations in the premiere of more than 50 contests that will unfold over the next five months.
The caucuses were rendering the first verdict on what the party stands for in the age of Trump and who it feels is best positioned to take on the Republican president, whom Democratic voters are desperate to beat this fall.
The moment is thick with promise for a Democratic Party that has seized major gains in states since Trump won the White House in 2016. But instead of clear optimism, a cloud of uncertainty and deepening intraparty resentment hung over Monday’s election as the prospect of a muddled result raised fears of a long and divisive primary fight in the months ahead.
“I’m the one who can pull our party together,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told supporters on a telephone call, suggesting her rivals could not. “I’m the one who is going to pull us all in to give us the ideas that we can all run on. The one who says both inspiration and inclusiveness.”
Polls suggest that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may have a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates Sanders, former vice-president Joe Biden, Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg could score a victory in Iowa’s unpredictable and quirky caucus system as organizers prepared for record turnout. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents neighbouring Minnesota, was also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates including entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.
“If anybody tells you they know who’s going to win, either they’ve got a whisper from God or they’re loony because nobody knows,” said Deidre DeJear, who announced her support for Warren on Monday and was the first black woman to win a statewide primary in Iowa.
Roughly two-thirds of Iowa caucus-goers said supporting a candidate who would fundamentally change how the system in Washington works was important to their vote, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses.
That compares to about a third of caucus-goers who said it was more important to support a candidate who would restore the political system to how it was before Trump’s election in 2016.
By midday Monday, a handful of satellite caucuses had already taken place some thousands of miles away from Iowa. In Glasgow, Scotland, Sanders received the most support from the 19 caucus-goers who attended, while Warren came in second and Buttigieg came in third. No other candidates were viable.
But the precinct caucuses are a relatively small portion of the results some 200,000 Iowans are expected to participate in the event.
Iowa offers just a tiny percentage of the delegates needed to win the nomination but plays an outsize role in culling primary fields. A poor showing in Iowa could cause a front-runner’s fundraising to slow and support in later states to dwindle, while a strong result can give a candidate much needed momentum.
Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is running a parallel campaign that ignores Iowa as he prepares to pounce on any perceived weaknesses in the field come March.
The past several Democrats who won the Iowa caucuses went on to clinch the party’s nomination.
New party rules may give more than one candidate an opportunity to claim victory, even if they aren’t the official winner.
For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party will report three sets of results at the end of the night: tallies of the “first alignment” of caucus-goers, their “final alignment” and the total number of state delegate equivalents each candidate receives. There is no guarantee that all three will show the same winner.
The Associated Press will declare a winner based on the number of state delegates each candidate wins, which has been the traditional standard.
Republicans will also hold caucuses on Monday. With no serious challenger for Trump and plenty of money to burn, his re-election team hopes to use voting in early states as a test run for its organizing prowess and to boost excitement for the president’s fall campaign. 
The Iowa caucuses are not chess, but they are a bit complicated and they are about choosing a champion. Adrienne Arsenault explains:1:36