Iowa Caucus Live Blog/Open ThreadPosted: February 1, 2016
Hey Sky Dancers!
Here’s a fresh thread to discuss the happenings in Iowa tonight. I guess no one really knows what will happen in Iowa, because the caucus system is kind of nuts–especially on the Democratic side.
Earlier today, Al Giordano, a political writer who was very successful in predicting the results of primaries in 2008 and who in 2007 wrote an article explaining how Barack Obama would beat Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination, released his predictions for tonight:
Republicans: Donald Trump 33%, Ted Cruz 26%, Marco Rubio 18%, Ben Carson 8% and no one else above 5%.
Democrats: Clinton 54%, Sanders 36%, O’Malley 10%
I summarized Giordano’s reasoning in the comment on the previous thread:
He says there are indications that Bernie’s on-the-ground organization is weak. See Yahoo story I posted above, his campaign mgr. knows little about the caucus system apparently.
Sanders’ support is concentrated in three counties that are home to universities. In Iowa you have to win delegates in every district; you can’t just win big in 2 or 3 and come in first. Hillary has people on the ground in every district.
If college students live in Iowa they have to return to their home districts to caucus. That may be difficult because they have classes today and there is a blizzard on the way.
More problems for Bernie. The turnout is not expected to be huge–it will be “normal” about like 2004. He has been trying to damp down expectations for days, so I think he knows he’s not going to win.
FiveThirtyEight is giving Hillary a 67% chance to win Iowa. Of course this is all speculation for now. As they say, it will all come down to turn out.
Here’s Nate Silver on how hard it is to poll Iowa.
It’s common for pundits to recite ass-covering phrases like “it all comes down to turnout” or “anything could happen” on the eve of a big election. If you’ve been following FiveThirtyEight over the years, you know it’s not our style to do that. Instead, we issue probabilistic forecasts, which can sometimes seem quite confident: We had Barack Obama as a 90.9 percent favorite to beat Mitt Romney on the eve of the 2012 general election, for example.
So let’s get a couple of things straight before the results start trickling in from Iowa tonight:
- It all comes down to turnout.
- Anything could happen.
All right, not absolutely anything could happen. Martin O’Malley is not going to win the Democratic caucuses. Donald Trump will probably not finish behind Carly Fiorina.
Could Trump slip all the way to third place? Entirely plausible. But he could also get upwards of 40 percent of the vote and double his nearest rival’s total.
Ben Carson in second place? Rand Paul in third? The odds are against it — but equally strange things have happened in Iowa before.
Much more detail at the link.
I thought this was interesting from Joan Walsh at The Nation: Is Donald Trump Even Trying in Iowa? Walsh went to a Trump rally this morning, and found it underwhelming.
Waterloo, Iowa, Monday morning. Jeb Bush would have loved it. It may not tell us anything about caucus turnout—it was a workday morning, after all—but it was a strange moment nonetheless.
Trump acknowledged the low turnout early, calling the diminutive crowd “our very close friends,” then saying, “I’m gonna get out of here fast,” for his next event in Cedar Rapids. The crowd groaned, and Trump reassured them. “No, no, we’re gonna take care of you. Win, lose or draw, I love you all.” He gave a perfunctory 35-minute speech at what I can’t even call a rally.
Like an aging rock star, Trump did a medley of his hits. “We’ll build a big, beautiful wall.” “Common Core is gone.” “The Second Amendment is not going to be chipped away at.” “We’re gonna protect Christianity. You know Christianity is under siege folks, it’s under siege.”
According to Walsh there was zero organizing going on.
Remarkably, there was no evidence of organizing even at this caucus-day rally; the campaign was selling its famous gear in the lobby, but not a soul was attempting to identify voters and make sure they know where their caucus site is.
I met Trump supporters who promised to caucus nonetheless. Michele Foley, an independent Mary Kay director, says she’s never caucused before but she will tonight for Trump. “I’m tired of where the country is going. I’m voting to take the country back, I’m not happy with anything Obama has done.” Still, Foley hasn’t been contacted by the campaign; she went to the website herself and figured out the caucus rules and where to show up at 7.
Is it possible Trump doesn’t really want to win?
Bernie Sanders has been trying to tamp down his supporters’ expectation for tonight. You have to wonder what his internal polls look like. He has also been saying he doesn’t expect a big turnout and that is what he would need to win.
Iowa Starting Line: Is The Sanders Campaign Prepping A “Blame Iowa” Strategy In Case Of A Loss?
With the most recent Des Moines Register poll showing Sanders still three points back from Clinton, and the possibility that Sanders’ support is too heavily concentrated in certain precincts (problematic since each has a set number of delegates), there seems to be growing concern among Sanders supporters that he’ll come up short in his upset bid in Iowa. That seems to have brought forward a series of Sanders-pushed stories that suggest a trend in which the campaign may try to undermine the legitimacy of the results.
The most recent attempt came last night when Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver spun a sinister-sounding story to Yahoo News about Clinton staffers possibly serving as precinct captains or volunteer leaders, based on a letter a Sanders supporter received. Weaver suggested it could mean that Clinton is “infiltrating the caucuses with out-of-state paid staffers,” and possibly even try to get counted in the caucus.
That argument, however, is utterly ridiculous. Weaver’s so-called proof was a letter telling a voter the precinct leader for their caucus was a paid staffer from Clinton’s campaign. This is actually a regular practice by all campaigns. In certain precincts where they may not have identified a precinct captain, they’ll send a staffer there to organize the room or, at the very least, greet supporters, but not to caucus themselves. And in this situation the Clinton staffer was simply a placeholder when the mailer went out – they later identified a local precinct captain.
Weaver claimed to not know enough about caucus rules to know whether this was allowed or not. Weaver knows the rules. He’s just hoping enough journalists and those outside Iowa don’t so that they’ll think something sounds fishy….
A separate story pushed by a top Sanders aide last week, however, veered into borderline tin-foil hat conspiracy theory. In an interview with MSNBC, Sanders’ top Iowa adviser Pete D’Alessandro suggested that Microsoft, which developed the caucus reporting software this year, might somehow intentionally fabricate the results to give Clinton a win.
“You’d have to ask yourself why they’d want to give something like that away for free,” D’Alessandro told MSNBCon suspicions they had about Microsoft’s involvement in the caucus process. Other Sanders aides were said to have brought up concerns about Microsoft employees who have donated to Clinton in the past.
That’s quite the accusation. The idea that Microsoft that would risk its reputation in a massive way by fraudulently skewing the most important early state result is pure imagination. It would also be a surprising amount of forethought for Microsoft, considering they started talks for the caucus reporting job about six months before Sanders announced his campaign.
Where are you following the story? What are you hearing? Let us know your thoughts in the comment thread. I for one am psyched up!