Final Caucus Winner May Come Down To Satellite Caucuses

It’s coming down to the wire.

With 97% of precincts reporting as of late Wednesday night, Pete Buttigieg holds a very tenuous lead in the Iowa Caucus results. He’s at 26.2% to Bernie Sanders’ 26.1% in the state delegate equivalent race. Sanders continues to hold a lead in the first and second alignment raw vote.

The state party announced a little after midnight that no more results would be put out this evening/early morning, so the final result likely won’t be known until tomorrow. With how close this is ending between Buttigieg and Sanders, the winner probably wouldn’t have been known for a day or two even without the app failure and reporting problems.

What may end up swinging the race at the end is the results of the satellite caucuses. Sanders quickly made up ground on Buttigieg when those got reported late today. Satellite caucuses results were pooled into Iowa’s four congressional districts and one out-of-state grouping.

Sanders’ campaign organized extensively for these satellite locations, several of which were designed for shift workers and diverse communities. Of the satellite locations that Starting Line reporters were at, Sanders dominated a Latino caucus and a union hall.

Those investments paid off.

Sanders netted a large advantage in SDEs out of 2nd and 3rd District pools of satellite caucuses. In the 3rd District, Sanders won 12.4 SDEs to Buttigieg’s 0.2. Joe Biden received 2.9, Amy Klobuchar had 1.4 and Elizabeth Warren ended up with 1.1.

In the 2nd District, Sanders won 5.8 SDEs to Buttigieg’s 0.02. Warren won 2.3 there and Klobuchar got 1.3.

For the 4th District, less delegates were apportioned. There, Sanders won 3 SDEs, while no one else got to 1.

Interestingly, in the out-of-state satellite locations, Klobuchar carried the most SDEs. She got 1.1 SDEs from those sites, compared to Sanders’ 0.6 and Warren’s 0.9. Klobuchar did particularly well in the satellite sites held in Arizona and Florida.

How much SDEs the remaining 1st District satellite caucus, which has yet to report and could put Sanders over the top, allocates depends on how many showed up. The final weight of the satellite caucuses relies on a complex formula that assigned delegate totals after the fact, based on the turnout of each. This ensured that if many people utilized the satellite option, the delegate value would be more proportionally reflected.

That is likely in part why Sanders’ campaign targeted these satellite locations in their strategy. His campaign is leading in the raw vote totals, but because precincts have pre-set numbers of delegates assigned, driving a huge turnout in any one precinct caucus can only get you so many delegates. With satellites, however, the more people show up to them, the more SDEs they’re worth in the final count.

Buttigieg’s campaign clearly must not have prioritized the satellite locations, but they did extremely well in the SDE targeting fight, winning in many rural areas that helped boost those totals.

If the 1st District satellites saw enough turnout to let Sanders inch past Buttigieg in SDEs, it’ll be a fitting close for the senator. His working-class and multi-racial coalition will have given him his final delegates needed to win.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 2/6/20

2 Comments on "Final Caucus Winner May Come Down To Satellite Caucuses"

  • What was known as the Iowa Caucus is a dumpster fire. It’s Thursday and the “stellar “staff at IDP is still counting. Need to clean house from top to bottom at the IDP as they have ruined the reputation of the Iowa Caucus. Incompetence reigns at IDP headquarters.

  • And those of us who vote absentee from overseas were not allowed to vote in a telephone caucus due to security fears. Hilarious.

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