Hillary Clinton’s campaign fought off a tough effort by Bernie Sanders’ operation in county conventions throughout the state to determine the next round of delegates that eventually end up at the national convention. At the end of the day, Clinton stood at 704 state delegates and Sanders had 700. That’s a slight improvement for both from caucus night’s final results, when Clinton had 700.47 and Sanders received 696.92.
The big prize both campaigns sought was the 5th statewide delegate. In addition to assigning national delegates by congressional district, Iowa also has 9 statewide delegates. Because of Clinton’s narrow win on caucus night, those split in her favor 5-4. The closeness led to fierce competition around the state on Saturday as Sanders tried to pick up just a handful more state delegates here and there to move ahead.
Sanders was unsuccessful in that effort, and the projected national delegate count remained the same both on the statewide level and by congressional district. Clinton still has a 23-21 advantage from Iowa.
Counties’ delegate totals only fluctuated slightly for the most part as both Sanders and Clinton supporters showed up in large numbers at their county conventions. Few places reported instances of delegates and alternates not showing up to the county meetings, which is usually how the counts can shift.
In Johnson County, John Deeth reported Clinton gained one state delegate over caucus night. In Scott County, where Sanders narrowly defeated Clinton, Sanders took away a similar state delegate lead of 42 to 40 after the county convention. Linn County reportedly remained the same.
Polk County emerged as ground zero for the delegate fight. The convention started at 9 AM and did not let out until well after 8 PM. Credentials checks, recounts after recounts and a reportedly poorly-run process by the Polk County Democrats turned the day into a catastrophe. Tempers flared repeatedly and members of the audience openly called for Polk County Democrats Chair Tom Henderson’s resignation. Clinton ended up winning 115 delegates to Sanders’ 113 there, less than her advantage on caucus night, but only after an initial (and apparently inaccurate) count showed Sanders had more delegates in the room. Starting Line will have a larger post on the Polk County mess later.
Overall, O’Malley and Uncommitted delegates realigned into Clinton and Sanders groups (save for one O’Malley and Uncommitted state-level delegate that survived in CD 3), but their numbers weren’t large enough to have a major impact. Very few Clinton or Sanders delegates reportedly switched sides.
Clinton maintaining her delegate advantage was by no means a given. In 2008 she lost a projected national delegate during those county conventions, while Barack Obama picked up ten. That added to her delegate problems nationally and kept her further behind. If Sanders wanted to start to legitimately catch up in that regard, he had a shot at picking up one, possibly two projected national delegates through the county conventions.
It’s unlikely the counts will change at the district and state convention level. The county conventions are typically where you see the most movement in delegates.
by Pat Rynard