Everyone Wins, And Nobody Wins, The Iowa Caucuses

By Team Starting Line

February 4, 2020

The Democratic presidential candidates competing in Iowa addressed crowds of supporters late Monday night at watch parties around Des Moines despite not knowing who came out on top in the first-in-the nation caucus state.

All candidates were declaring victory here, because, why not at this point?

As of early Tuesday morning, the Iowa Democratic Party had posted no individual precinct results on its website, citing, at about 10:30 p.m. Monday night, “inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.”

“This is simply a reporting issue,” said Mandy McClure, the IDP’s communications director, “the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

During a one-minute conference call with reporters at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, IDP chairman Troy Price said results would come “later today.”

As far as the candidates were concerned, however, the Iowa caucuses were in the rearview mirror the second they got on a plane to New Hampshire. Voting there begins Feb. 11.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the first of five candidates to take the stage Monday night in Iowa.

“You probably heard we don’t know the results, but I did not want to let another minute go by without thanking all of you,” Klobuchar said at the Des Moines Marriott. “We know there’s delays but we know one thing, we are punching above our weight. My heart is full tonight.”

Klobuchar thanked her Iowa caucus chairwoman Andy McGuire, her staff, her husband and daughter, volunteers and field organizers.

“We are feeling so good tonight and I cannot wait. Somehow, some way, I am going to get on a plane tonight to New Hampshire and we are bringing this ticket to New Hampshire,” Klobuchar said. “So even in a crowded field of candidates, even during the well-earned impeachment hearing of Donald J. Trump, which kept me bolted to my Senate desk for the last two weeks, we kept fighting, and you kept fighting for me.”

Before the clock struck midnight, Klobuchar’s team hinted on Twitter that they believed she did equally as well, or better, then Joe Biden.

“The Iowa Democratic Party is working to get the results straight,” the former vice president said at Drake University. “I want to make sure they are very careful with their deliberations. Indications are our indication is it’s going to be close.

“We’re going to walk out of here with our share of delegates,” Biden said. “We don’t know exactly what it is yet, but we feel good about where we are.”

Biden’s supporters at his party seemed to be OK with where he ended up, despite not knowing the final precinct tallies.

“I was hoping he would pull out and be more of a clear front-runner, but what I observed in our precinct caucus meeting was that several of the Biden folks were I don’t know more stoic and reserved and not quite as in-your-face as some of the other camps were,” said Colleen Heinz, who was a precinct captain at West Des Moines 225. “I do like to think there’s more of a silent majority that’s out there that just wasn’t there tonight.”

Heinz said Biden was viable at her precinct earlier in the night, along with Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Roger Ferris, a precinct captain in Clive 6, said caucus night went about how he thought it would for Biden.

“I’m a believer in hard evidence,” Ferris said. “Polls are the hardest evidence that we have. They’re pretty uniform in showing that it was close in Iowa, and not so close across the country, and not so close in the battleground states.”

Ferris expected Buttigieg to do well in the suburbs, and he did. He was viable along with Warren, Sanders and Biden.

“I mentioned the polls because my sense is Biden would be the most likely to win,” Ferris said. “But my individual sense doesn’t really make much difference, so I like to look at the hard evidence.”

Warren showed up to her rally in Des Moines greeted by a loud and eager crowd. The room was packed with an enthusiastic mix of supporters, staff, volunteers, and precinct captains all ready to hear the payoff for their hard work.

Unfortunately, they were left in the same boat as everyone else. Still, the candidate was quick to express gratitude.

So listen, it’s too close to call. So I’m going to tell you what I do know. Tonight as a party, we are one step closer to defeating the most corrupt president in American history,” Warren said at Forte Banquet and Conference Center. “Tomorrow Donald Trump will make a speech about the state of the union. But I have a message for every American: Our union is stronger than Donald Trump.”

Warren also took some time to draw contrasts with Trump, and to again hit on her campaign message that a woman can win the presidency.

“And, in less than a year, our union will be stronger than ever when that one man is replaced by one very persistent woman,” she explained. “A person’s values matter. A president’s values matter. And the only thing Donald Trump values is Donald Trump. He believes that government is just one more thing to exploit — a tool to enrich himself and his corrupt buddies at everyone else’s expense. I believe that government should work for everyone.”

Warren spent some time elaborating on her vision, describing a country where every job has dignity, where everyone makes a living wage and has an equal opportunity to thrive.

Both Julian and Joaquin Castro showed up at the Warren rally, and Julian Castro briefly gaggled with the press. He expressed frustration with how the first nominating contest played out.

“It is not reliable in the way that we need this to be reliable when we’re starting off the process,” Castro said. “What everybody saw plain as day in front of their TV screen, and what we’re still seeing right now in the lack of results, in the errors that have happened, is that this simply is not the way that we should do this.”

Sanders spoke to his Des Moines rally of more than 570 supporters after 10:30 p.m. following several of his competitors’ appearances in the state. He remained optimistic about his standing in the race.

The senator’s caucus night party was held at the Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport Hotel amid the caucus results confusion. He referenced his standing in the polls briefly, then largely stuck to his usual stump speech.

“I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very very well tonight,” Sanders said, with his wife Jane, and some of his children and grandchildren.

A number of Sanders’ surrogates took the stage to fill time, sometimes more than once. The candidate’s national co-chair and former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner repeatedly revved up supporters.

“The only special interests are people like you and you and you and you and you and you,” Turner proclaimed to the crowd, cheering in response.

Carter Long, a 23-year-old from Des Moines, said Sanders won in his precinct, gathering four delegates. He came to the party right after caucusing.

“I feel really positive. In the precinct that I was in, in Des Moines, there was a lot of Bernie support, there were a lot of young people,” Long said. “People are psyched.”

But Long said he didn’t have a handle on how the rest of the state was caucusing, especially with the lack of official results.

“It’s hard to tell. I’ve talked to a few people and it looks promising but nothing has come back yet, so we don’t know. People are reporting good things,” he said.

Some Sanders supporters also expressed skepticism about the lack of results coming from the Democratic Party.

“I’m worried about the DNC because they are a corrupt organization and they don’t want Bernie to win. They don’t want progressives,” said Billy Not, a 23-year-old Des Moines caucus-goer.

Buttigieg was the last candidate to speak late Monday night. He addressed a crowd of hundreds at the Bell Center on Drake’s campus.

He was preceded by a loud, energized crowd that periodically erupted into chants and attempted to do the wave around the room.

That crowd didn’t let up, even when Buttigieg took to the podium, to a remixed version of his walk-on song, “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco. For the first few minutes, the candidate could barely get through full thoughts without the crowd interrupting with cheers.

“Tonight, Iowa chose a new path,” he said. “You joined your neighbors to say that the time has come to turn the page and open up a new chapter in the American story. You chose to move on not just from the broken policies of the last few years but the broken politics that got us here. We will be building the movement that not only will win the election against Donald Trump but win the era for our shared values.”

As on the stump across the state, Buttigieg finished his time in Iowa with a call for welcoming people into the movement and building an environment where everyone feels like they belong.

“We have exactly one shot to defeat Donald Trump and we’re not going to do it by overreaching, we’re not going to do it by division, we’re not going to do it by saying it’s my way or the highway. This is our shot, our only shot, to galvanize an American majority to win,” he said.

“No matter who you voted for in elections past, and for that matter, no matter who you caucused for tonight, we welcome you in our campaign.”

Afterward, the crowd filed out, cheering as they went.

“I’m really happy with how Pete did. Some people didn’t expect him to do this well,” said Alexis Carfrae, a 17-year-old at the party.

She said she wasn’t bothered by the lack of official results from the IDP.

“I’m just going to stay hopeful,” Carfrae said. “He’s come this far and I know he can go so much further.”


By Paige Godden, Josh Cook, Isabella Murray, Nikoel Hytrek and Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 2/4/20



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