Closed Iowa caucus: A result-free night dismays Democrats – as it happened

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A live blog from FT.com


Impeachment and Iowa: a US political double feature

Lauren Fedor in Des Moines reports:

It’s the busiest political day of the 2020 calendar thus far, with closing arguments in the Senate impeachment trial due to get underway at 11am Washington time and Democratic campaigns spreading out across Iowa for the first test of voter sentiment at the statewide caucuses, which start at 7pm central time.

The dueling events have been particularly difficult for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, sitting senators who must be in Washington today for the impeachment proceedings before flying to Iowa for tonight’s caucuses.

The three had a busy weekend, crisscrossing Iowa in an effort to make up for lost time; they’ve been cloistered in the Senate chamber for two weeks during the impeachment trial while rivals Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg made their final “on the ground” pitches to Iowans.

This morning, Warren, who goes into tonight fourth in the polls at 15.6 per cent according to an average compiled by Real Clear Politics, managed to squeeze in a “tele-town hall”, with voters phoning into a conference call to ask the senator questions. Warren and Klobuchar have both relied on tele-town halls in the last week, with their campaigns reporting thousands of people dialing in.

This morning, voters asked Warren about everything from climate change to medical marijuana. At one point, the operator asked voters to use their touch-pads to say what their top priority was: rooting out corruption, investing in education, attacking climate change or reforming the criminal justice system.


How do the Iowa caucuses work? A brief primer

Courtney Weaver in Des Moines reports:

Even for those who follow US politics closely, it can be difficult to remember just how the Iowa caucuses work since they’re so idiosyncratic. Here’s the FT primer on the logistics. The main points:

• They take place in about 1,700 locations statewide, beginning at 7pm central time (that’s 8pm Washington time)
• Voters arrive, pick their candidate and then huddle with those who have chosen the same candidate
• To receive delegates, a candidate must have at least 15 per cent of attendees
• If a candidate receives less than 15 per cent, their voters are disbursed to second choices, which puts a premium on a campaign’s organisation
• This year, the Iowa Democratic party will announce winners in both the first and second rounds of voting, as opposed to just the second
• Final results, and the apportionment of Iowa’s 41 delegates to the Democratic convention, will be announced around 11pm local time.


Closing arguments to begin in Trump impeachment trial

The FT’s Kadhim Shubber reports from Washington:

Closing arguments in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial have kicked off in the Senate. There will be four hours of arguments divided between the Democratic House impeachment managers and Mr Trump’s lawyers.

The proceedings come ahead of Wednesday’s final vote, where Mr Trump is set to be acquitted after the Republican majority in the Senate voted last Friday not to hear witnesses in the trial.


Democrats start impeachment closing arguments with appeal to history

With President Trump’s coming acquittal nearly a certainty, Democrats began their arguments with appeals to US history.

Jason Crow, a House Democrat from Colorado who serves as one of the impeachment prosecutors in the Senate trial, referenced both Daniel Webster, the 19th century statesman, and Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian renowned for his writings on the US.

He quoted a speech by Webster that praised the Senate as “a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities”. And he quoted de Tocqueville, who said America’s greatness lay “in her ability to repair her faults”.

“I don’t pretend that this is an easy process, it’s not designed to be easy,” he told the Senate.

“Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy, a tool only to be used in rare instances of grave misconduct, but it is in the constitution for a reason. In America, no-one is above the law. Even those elected President of the United States, and I would say especially those elected President of the United States,” he added.


Investors say Iowa results could pose risk for markets

The results of tonight’s Iowa caucuses could bring US political risks back to the forefront on Wall Street, according to analysts and investors.

Goldman Sachs told clients on Monday that if regional polling showing a “surge” in support for Bernie Sanders translates into a strong showing in Iowa, it may cause a large shift in national polling odds that currently favour the more moderate Joe Biden.

The Wall Street bank said in the past, the results of the Iowa caucuses have moved national polling by as much as 30 percentage points. “Such a large shift, were it to repeat, may bring US politics back into the foreground as a risk factor,” Goldman said.

The bank noted that the options market — where traders and investors hedge against or speculate on moves in the equity market — is currently pricing in little volatility stemming from the Democratic primaries. However, Goldman reckons there could still be a rise in market tumult as investors re-assess election odds.

Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Wealth Management, added:

If [Bernie] Sanders or [Elizabeth] Warren gain momentum, this could potentially be a headwind for markets, as investors weigh the potential for higher taxes, anti-trust probes, and restrictions on drug prices.

Last year, US politics often dominated Wall Street equities sentiment, with the Trump administration’s trade negotiations taking the focus. Investors have been captivated over the past two weeks, however, by the coronavirus outbreak that is expected to have a significant effect on global economic growth in the first quarter.


Democrats use Iowa caucuses to hit up donors yet again

Several of the leading Democrats have sent out fundraising letters to their supporters this morning, using today’s caucuses as a chance to get them to donate. Here are a few samples:

Bernie Sanders

As has been his message throughout the campaign, Sanders is emphasising the number of small donations he’s received from a wide range of contributors. He is telling donors that the campaign wants to hit a total of 75,000 donations before the caucuses get underway at 7pm:

We have set a difficult goal of reaching 75,000 donations before tonight’s caucus begins and still need a lot more contributions to reach our goal. Help us send a message to the political establishment and the corporate media that we are in a strong position to take on anything that comes next and that ours is the grassroots campaign that will defeat Trump.

Joe Biden

Biden is, somewhat surprisingly, casting himself as an underdog, perhaps trying to take advantage of Sanders’ recent surge in the polls. He says he’s trying to raise $500,000 by tonight, insisting “we’re being outspent by our opponents”:

We’re being outspent by our opponents. We’re being attacked for these convictions. So my team set a goal to raise $500,000 by tonight, and we’re just a bit short. Can you pitch in $5 right now to help us compete when we need it the most?

Elizabeth Warren

Warren is going a bit generic, just using the caucuses to urge her supporters to donate. Unlike Biden or Sanders, she is not setting some special goal for the night and just urges contributors to pony up before the voting begins:

[I]f you’ve been waiting for a time to donate, now is the moment. We’re almost out of time before the caucuses, and every dollar goes directly into making sure that we’re set up for success in Iowa and beyond.

Pete Buttigieg

Like Warren, Buttigieg’s letter contains is more of a generic appeal. He says he’s looking beyond Iowa and wants to make sure he’s sufficiently resourced for the next primaries, and arguing that he is the best positioned candidate to take on Donald Trump — a nod to the “electability” issue that has come to dominate in Democratic voters’ minds.:

We’ll need resources and support to keep up our momentum past Iowa. So first, if you know anybody in Iowa, now is the time to call them and make sure they’re caucusing tonight to help turn the page to what must come next. And then, if you can, please chip in $10 to help us sprint across the finish line in Iowa, and turn toward New Hampshire in just eight days.


Trump asks Iowa Republicans to show up tonight, too

Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to call for Iowa Republicans to show up to their caucuses today — despite the fact there really isn’t a contest there. Although both Bill Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, and Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, are both campaigning in Iowa, there is little doubt the president will sweep up all delegates there tonight.

As if to illustrate the point, the state Republican party is using something called “Team Trump’s caucus location finder” to steer voters to their local get-togethers on the official party website.

The FT’s recent interview with Weld, where he talks about how he is focusing not on Iowa but next week’s primary in New Hampshire, can be found here.


Ken Starr makes closing arguments for Trump impeachment team

Ken Starr, the prosecutor who drove the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, led the closing defense arguments in Donald Trump’s argument with a speech that referenced Martin Luther King Jr. and accused Democrats of failing to follow the rules.

He progressed from King, the civil rights icon, to Theodore Parker, the abolitionist who said the arc of the universe bent towards justice, and Benjamin Cardozo, the former Supreme Court justice, to make a point about “fundamental fairness”.

“It’s playing by the rules, it’s why we don’t allow deflated footballs or stealing signs from the field,” said Mr Starr.

“So I submit that a key question to be asked as you begin your deliberations, were he rules here faithfully followed? If not, if that is your judgement, then with all due respect the prosecutors should not be rewarded,” he said.

Mr Trump’s defense team and Republican senators have argued that the House rushed to impeachment and failed to win the necessary bipartisan support for their case.

“They’ve got the power,” said Mr Starr, referencing the House’s sole power to impeach under the constitution. “But that it doesn’t mean that anything goes.”


Path to victory: Bernie Sanders needs the young to turn out

We asked Demetri Sevastopulo, the FT’s Washington bureau chief who’s in Des Moines covering the caucus, to provide a short analysis of what each front-running candidate needs to do tonight. Here’s his take, starting with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:

Sanders, 78, leads in the polls after a pre-caucus surge in Iowa. The Vermont senator lost the 2016 presidential caucuses here four years ago by the narrowest of margins (Clinton took 49.8 per cent of the vote to Sanders’ 49.6 per cent).

His closing argument has been that America needs an economic revolution to redistribute wealth to average citizens. He is also portraying his fight as a repeat of 2016 when he was battling the Democratic establishment.

His supporters are generally much younger than those of his rivals, but he needs to convert that enthusiasm into them showing up for the caucuses, which require several hours of active participation before a winner is chosen.

In his final events, Sanders warned supporters that “we will lose” if caucus turnout is low on Monday evening.

To read the FT Weekend profile of Sanders and his recent rise to front-runner status in Iowa, click here.


John Kerry looking downbeat on sidelines of Biden rally

Demetri Sevastopulo in Des Moines

Presidential campaigns would not be campaigns without drama.

Biden had his own drama on Sunday when John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee who is campaigning for him in Iowa, was overheard by NBC News telling someone on the phone what he himself would need to enter the 2020 race.

His comment renewed concerns about Biden’s strength. Kerry tweeted that it was “fucking false” that he was considering jumping into the race, before replacing the tweet without the expletive.

I saw Kerry later at a Biden rally and he looked downbeat. Have a look:


Warm weather in Iowa could boost turnout

Lauren Fedor in Des Moines

It’s 37 degrees Fahrenheit (about 3 degrees Celsius) in Des Moines today — balmy weather for this time of year in the Midwest, which campaign officials say they hope will encourage a high turnout at the polls this evening.

The caucuses officially kick off at 7pm CST, and between now and then, organisers are making their appeal to voters one last time, with volunteers knocking on doors and making phone calls in an effort to “GOTC” — Get Out The Caucus — and convince voters to back their candidate. At the same time, you can’t turn on the television without being bombarded by a steady stream of advertisements from the candidates.


Path to victory: Will the ‘silent’ Biden voters show up tonight?

We asked Demetri Sevastopulo, the FT’s Washington bureau chief who’s in Des Moines covering the caucus, to provide a short analysis of what each front-running candidate needs to do tonight. Here’s the second take, on former vice-president Joe Biden:

Biden, 77, led the field in Iowa for much of last year but has fallen into second place in the polls. He says he has both the broadest appeal with voters and the experience to beat Donald Trump. His message over the last few days is focused on that “electability” issue, arguing that he will restore US credibility in the world and restore dignity to the Oval Office.

While he fares better than most of his rivals in the polls, his Iowa rallies have been notable for very low turnout, and attendees are heavily skewed towards retirees.

His team says there are lots of “silent” voters – particularly older voters – who plan to caucus for him but do not need to come to his events because they already feel that they know him.

For Demetri’s recent report from Fort Madison, Iowa, on how Biden is emphasising his electability, click here.


Tourists descend upon Iowa to watch caucuses

Lauren Fedor in Des Moines

The Iowa caucuses attract a media circus, with hundreds of journalists and camera crews from around the world descending on small cities and towns.

At some events this weekend, there were as many — if not more — reporters than there were voters. But members of the media are not the only out-of-towners in the “Hawkeye State”.

Town halls and rallies in recent days have been swarmed with tourists who traveled from as near as Illinois and as far as Hungary to see the candidates, observe the caucuses and soak up the political excitement.

Many school groups and universities have also organised student trips to the caucuses, resulting in hundreds of not-yet-eligible-to-vote teenagers filling audiences.

One 60-year-old man from New York described seeing the Iowa caucuses as on his “bucket list”, while another woman from the East Coast described Iowans as “great people” and “real Democrats”.


Trump lawyers wrap up case for defence of the president

Kiran Stacey in Washington

In Washington, the Trump lawyers have now wrapped up their case for the defence of the president.

Pat Cipollone, who has headed up Mr Trump’s legal team, returned at the end to his initial argument that removing the president would be an anti-democratic move.

He told Senators in his final speech: “We can together end the era of impeachment, put faith in the American people, put faith in their wisdom, put faith in their judgement.”

His arguments may not matter however. Even as he was speaking, Politico was reporting that enough senators have now publicly declared their support for the president for him to be sure of remaining in office.

The Republicans may now focus on trying to get three wavering Democratic senators to vote to acquit: Mr Cipollone urged them to reject the articles of impeachment “on a bipartisan basis”.


Path to victory: Buttigieg drawing enthusiastic crowds in closing days

We asked Demetri Sevastopulo, the FT’s Washington bureau chief who’s in Des Moines covering the caucus, to provide a short analysis of what each front-running candidate needs to do tonight. Here’s the third take, on former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg:

Buttigieg, 38, remains third in the Iowa polls, but the crowds at his events in recent days suggest that he has some momentum. He has taken advantage of the fact that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been forced to spend most of the past two weeks in Washington for the impeachment trial to campaign furiously across the state.

His pitch is that Americans should not have to choose between a revolution (Sanders) and the status quo (Biden). He says his campaign is a multi-racial, multi-generational coalition of Americans who want to head to the future with a fresh political leader and not the “familiar”.

The test though is whether his fans think a relatively inexperienced gay man attract enough voters to beat Trump. In addition, though he may do well in Iowa, it is an overwhelmingly white state; Buttigieg has struggled with African-American voters.

Demetri had a look at Buttigieg’s struggle with African-American voters during a swing through New Hampshire in December. That story is here.


Democratic impeachment managers finish closing arguments

Kiran Stacey in Washington

The Democratic team prosecuting the case against Donald Trump in the Senate has now ended its closing arguments.

Several impeachment managers, as they are known, ended in high rhetorical style, making appeals to the constitution, to justice, and to history. But implicit in their arguments was an acknowledgement that they are highly unlikely to win their case.

Hakeem Jeffries, a congressman from New York, warned senators: “America is watching; the world is watching; the eyes of history are watching. The senate can still do the right thing.”

Adam Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee, said: “It is said that a single man or woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you who will say, ‘enough’?”

Senators will now debate the matter on the floor of the Senate until the final vote is held on whether to acquit or convict on Wednesday.


Team Buttigieg urges supporters to convince undecided voters

Demetri Sevastopulo in Des Moines

Campaigns are using every possible route to get undecided voters to back their candidate. Buttigieg’s team has been texting supporters and urging them to convince their friends and neighbors to support the former mayor.

“There are people heading to the caucus who are still undecided. If you see someone you know, be bold and approach them,” the campaign said in one message. “Be respectful of all the candidates. The real target is Donald Trump”.

Providing advice about how to convince the undecided voters, it continued: “Be truthful about what resonated with you, what was the turning point when you committed to caucus for Pete.”


Polls show Sanders as the favourite in Iowa caucus

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is leading the polls heading into tonight’s Iowa caucus.

Mr Sanders has 23 per cent of support among Democrats in the state, based on an average of polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. Joe Biden is second with 19.3 per cent, followed by Pete Buttigieg (16.8 per cent), Elizabeth Warren (15.5 per cent) and Amy Klobuchar (9 per cent).

Mr Sanders is also the front-runner in New Hampshire, which holds its primaries next week. He has a nine-point lead over Mr Biden on average, and a recent poll by WHDH and Emerson College put Mr Sanders ahead by 15 percentage points among likely voters, according to RCP. Nationally, Mr Biden is ahead of Mr Sanders, 27.2 per cent to 23.5 per cent.

Iowa polling for the general election shows Donald Trump beating Mr Biden, Mr Sanders and Ms Warren in hypothetical matchups, by margins of three to six percentage points.


Path to victory: Warren tries to rebound with women voters after slump

We asked Demetri Sevastopulo, the FT’s Washington bureau chief who’s in Des Moines covering the caucus, to provide a short analysis of what each front-running candidate needs to do tonight. Here’s the final take, on Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren:

Warren, 70, led the Iowa polls in the autumn, but has since fallen into fourth place. Her argument on the stump in recent days is similar to Sanders in that she wants to upend the economic status quo to help the many Americans who are falling behind.

Her Iowa campaign events have been well attended and attract a diverse group of voters. She has a particularly strong appeal to women who want to see the first US female president, one of the major differences between her and Sanders.

She will be hoping that those women turn out in force on Monday to send a strong message of support for a female candidate, just as they did in the 2018 congressional midterm elections.

Demetri reported from Cedar Falls, Iowa, on how Warren had unexpectedly risen to the top of Iowa polling last fall. His report is here.


Centrist Democrat calls for Trump censure vote

Senator Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia, has called for the Senate to hold a censure vote condemning Donald Trump’s attempt to coerce Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden.

Manchin, a potential swing vote who could yet acquit Trump in the impeachment trial, said he believed a bipartisan majority would support a censure motion even as Wednesday’s vote on impeachment looked set to split down party lines.

“Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines, and as an equal branch of government to formally denounce the president’s actions and hold him accountable,” Manchin said in a speech on the Senate floor.

“His behaviour cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behaviour in the strongest terms,” he added.

Manchin, who voted in favour of calling witnesses last Friday, did not say whether he would vote to convict or to acquit Trump, though he said the president’s removal would “further divide” and “further poison” the nation’s politics.

“I am truly struggling with this decision and will come to a conclusion reluctantly,” he said.


The sun is shining in Dubuque…and that will test Sanders’ strategy

Patti Waldmeir reports from Dubuque, Iowa:

The weather in Dubuque, Iowa, could not be more perfect to test candidate Bernie Sanders’ thesis that if there is high turnout to tonight’s Democratic caucuses, he will win. And he will need to win places like Dubuque — a working class, Catholic town on the banks of the Mississippi River that voted Democratic for 50 years until President Donald Trump came along — if he is to deny the president a second term.

Local Sanders’ supporters are holding their breath to see whether the good weather brings out people who have never voted before — the new voters he is counting on to put him over the top in tonight’s Dubuque caucuses, and in the November presidential election.

This is the kind of place where the Democratic party lost middle America in the last election. Tonight’s caucuses may provide some early clues to whether swing counties like this can turn Democratic again in 2020.


How the Iowa Democratic caucus has changed

There are less than three hours to go before kick-off for the Iowa Democratic caucuses, which will have a different look tonight after several changes made by the party last year.

After criticism from Bernie Sanders’ supporters in 2016, the party will announce raw vote totals for the first and second rounds of voting. In the past, officials would only announce the number of delegates.

The change opens up the possibility that two candidates can claim victory, if the first-round winner loses ground in the second and final vote. However, the second round of voting will still determine how many delegates will be allotted to each candidate.

In most cases, candidates must get at least 15 per cent of the vote in each caucus to move past the first round.

In an effort to increase participation, the party introduced 87 “satellite caucuses” that will take place in Iowa and other states, as well as overseas. For Iowans living outside the US, there will be one caucus in France, one in Scotland and one in the Republic of Georgia.

Also different this year, caucus-goers will write their candidate of choice on a piece of paper — the first time caucuses will keep a paper record.

Iowa is one of six US states that use caucuses, rather than traditional votes, to choose party nominees for president. You can read more about the process here.

The majority of US voters participating in the nominating process will cast secret ballots in state primaries. Some states, including Minnesota and Colorado, made the switch from caucuses to primaries this year.


Two hours to go: Where things stand

With about two hours to go before the caucuses get underway, here’s where we stand on a big day in American politics:

• In Washington, the prosecution and defence have both rested in Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, and the proceedings stand in recess. A final vote on whether to remove the president from office, which is expected to fall far short of the two-thirds needed for success, is scheduled for Wednesday.

• Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has not committed to voting with his party to convict Trump, has proposed the Senate approve a censure of the president instead. This could change the political dynamic over impeachment.

• In Iowa, the field has been left for the leading non-Senators in the race — Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg — while sitting Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar have been stuck in Washington at the impeachment trial.

• The weather in Iowa is unseasonably warm today, which may be good news for Sanders, who goes into the caucuses the front-runner but is reliant on turnout from voters — particularly younger Iowans and the growing number of Latinos in the state — who have not traditionally voted in big numbers.

• Some of Biden’s recent rally have seen low turnout, raising concerns among some backers of the former vice-president that his support may be fading just at the wrong time.


Manchin censure: Trump ‘dishonoured’ himself, presidency and nation

We got our hands on Joe Manchin’s proposed censure motion (which you can read here). The proposal by the centrist Democrat could change the impeachment dynamic by gaining bipartisan support in the Senate.

The text says Donald Trump “brought dishonor to himself, the Nation, and the Office of the President” and includes a series of criticisms of the president, including that he “abused the trust of the American people”.

Manchin, who represents West Virginia in the Senate, has not said how he will vote on Wednesday, but argued that removing Trump from office would be too divisive. If Manchin breaks with his party to acquit Trump, the president will be able to point to Democratic support at both the House and Senate stages of his impeachment.


Iowa’s importance to Democrats

A win in Iowa’s caucuses is likely to provide a big boost to Democratic presidential hopefuls. How big, you ask? In 2004 and 2008, a victory in Iowa gave a roughly 30 percentage point boost to a candidate’s odds of winning the Democratic nomination, according to Goldman Sachs.

Economists at Goldman also said a win in Iowa gave candidates a bump in state-level polling.

In 2008, the share of voters preferring Sen. Obama in Democratic primary polling in early-primary states increased by 10pp on average following his victory in the Iowa caucuses compared to the prior one-month average. In 2004 this effect was noticeable for Sen. Kerry as well at the national level.

However, they note that the Super Tuesday primaries set to take place on March 3 will also provide a meaningful catalyst to presidential campaigns this year given the number of candidates and level of competitiveness.


Bernie Sanders leads in polling ahead of Iowa caucuses

Lauren Fedor reports from Des Moines, Iowa:

Democrats in Iowa will cast their votes on Monday night in the first big event of a presidential primary process that will determine who faces Donald Trump in November’s US election.

Voters will have 10 Democrats to choose from, with the latest public opinion polls showing four candidates leading the field: Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator; Joe Biden, former US vice-president; Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana; and Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator, also appears to have gained momentum in recent weeks, buoyed by a series of high-profile newspaper endorsements.

But Mr Sanders, a Democratic socialist, has seen the greatest swell of support in recent days, exacerbating anxieties among moderate members of the party who worry about his ability to defeat Mr Trump in a general election.

Mr Sanders’ recent rise has come even though he has been unable to campaign in the state for much of the past two weeks. Mr Sanders, Ms Warren and Ms Klobuchar have all been relegated to Washington, where they are three of 100 senators acting as jurors in Mr Trump’s impeachment trial.

An average of Iowa polls compiled by the website RealClearPolitcs showed Mr Sanders in first place at 23 per cent, followed by Mr Biden at 19 per cent, Mr Buttigieg at 16.8 per cent and Ms Warren at 15.5 per cent. But political experts agree the race is too close to call, especially given that a significant share of Iowans say they will only make up their mind on caucus night.

Read the full story here.


FT reporters dispersed across Iowa: what to watch for

FT reporters are deployed across Iowa for this evening’s caucuses, which get underway within the hour. Here’s where they’ll be:

Lauren Fedor will be in the capital of Des Moines, the state’s largest city. Hillary Clinton polled well here against Bernie Sanders in the caucuses four years ago.

Demetri Sevastopulo will be in Ankeny, a fast-growing suburb of Des Moines, keeping an eye on the suburban vote.

Patti Waldmeier will be in Dubuque, a blue-collar industrial town along the Mississippi River in the northeastern corner of the state. This is an area Barack Obama won handily in 2012 but Donald Trump beat Clinton here four years ago.

Courtney Weaver will be in Marshalltown, a small town of 27,000 in the middle of the state. This is Bernie Sanders country. He beat Clinton here handily four years ago.


The Des Moines suburb that’s a bellwether of the youth vote

Demetri Sevastopulo reports from Ankeny:

Ankeny is a relatively wealthy northern suburb of Des Moines, the state capital, where Democrats are expecting a big turnout. Party officials are watching to see if the number of caucus-goers exceed the capacity at precincts in what they refer to as the doomsday scenario.

A large turnout would suggest that a lot of young people have caucused, which some political experts think would benefit Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, but hurt Joe Biden whose voters tend to be on the older end of the spectrum.


Biden a distant 4th in spiked Des Moines Register poll: FiveThirtyEight

Joe Biden, the former vice president who is seeking to secure the Democratic nomination, is poised to have a rough night, according to a Des Moines Register poll obtained by election news website FiveThirtyEight.

The poll, which was pulled before it was released by the newspaper, showed that Mr Biden secured support from just 13 per cent of voters. Bernie Sanders came in with 22 per cent, with Elizabeth Warren at 18 per cent and Pete Buttigieg at 16 per cent.

The lacklustre showing would represent a big blow to Mr Biden’s campaign in the first Democratic nomination contest of the 2020 election cycle.

The Des Moines Register, which conducted the poll in partnership with CNN and pollsters Selzer & Co, decided to spike the survey after it was revealed that at least one respondent in the survey was not read Mr Buttigieg’s name in the questionnaire.


Democratic candidates take to Twitter ahead of caucuses

With minutes to go before the Iowa caucuses kick-off, here is the messaging Democratic candidates and their social media teams are trying to get out to caucusgoers.

Joe Biden noted there will be no time for “on-the-job training” and the next president needs to be “ready on day one”. He had a string of tweets urging his supporters to “show up and make their voices heard”.

https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1224463825987981316

Bernie Sanders tweets addressed the need for climate change and corruption in corporate America.

https://twitter.com/SenSanders/status/1224483698772520960

Elizabeth Warren said she is in the presidential race because she is ready to fight back against Donald Trump

https://twitter.com/ewarren/status/1224489260377612289

Pete Buttigieg has promised to make Iowans proud

https://twitter.com/PeteButtigieg/status/1224490731848589312

Amy Klobuchar reminded her followers why she is the right candidate to take on Donald Trump

https://twitter.com/amyklobuchar/status/1224481176804610048

Tom Steyer pledged to defend voting rights, a more progressive climate law and corporate lobbying

https://twitter.com/TomSteyer/status/1224471095501156352


Biden showing strength at Dubuque’s Democratic caucus

Patti Waldmeir reports from Dubuque:

With moments to go before the Dubuque county Democratic caucus gets underway in district six, the biggest crowd so far has gathered under signs for Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Warren has drown a big crowd, too, but the Bernie Sanders camp is noticeably smaller. Undecided voters — and there are several — are still circulating, hearing last-minute pitches from the candidates’ precinct captains.


What’s on the menu in Iowa?

As the Iowa caucuses begin, so too does the realisation it is dinner time in America.

For those unable to visit the future birth state of Star Trek’s James Kirk themselves and either grab a bite before or after the voting begins, here is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of iconic Iowan foods.

Breaded pork tenderloin Fun fact No. 1: Iowa is the US’s number one pork-producing state, according to 2018 data from the US Department of Agriculture. This is one way to make use of all those pigs.

Corn Fun fact No. 2: The Hawkeye State is also the US’s top corn-producing state. May as well grab a cob. With all that corn and soyabean (Iowa also being a major producer of the legume), the state is not in short supply of feed, which means a lot of iconic dishes revolve around meat.

Maid-Rites A ground meat sandwich, typically topped with condiments like mustard and ketchup, onion and pickles. Also known as taverns or canteens. Some people suggest think of a Sloppy Joe, without the slop.

Steak de burgo Beef tenderloin topped with butter, garlic and Italian herbs, this is an iconic dish in the Des Moines area.

Hot beef sandwich More meat. This is comfort food, with piles of beef, gravy and sometimes mashed potato plonked on white bread.

Taco pizza As its name suggests, this is a pizza topped with chips, salsa, ground beef (yes, it’s everywhere) and beans. Unholy marriage or perfect pairing? You decide.

Blue Bunny ice cream The town of Le Mars, Iowa is nicknamed the “ice cream capital of the world” and is the headquarters of ice cream manufacturer Wells Enterprises, maker of the Blue Bunny brand.

Nutty bars Looking to do more with Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream than simply eat it with a spoon? Put it on a stick, dip it in chocolate and cover it with nuts to mimic a summertime favourite in the state.

Twin Bing Made by Sioux City’s Palmer Candy Company, open a pack to find two cherry-flavoured nougat mounds coated in chocolate and chopped peanuts.


Andrew Yang makes appearance at West Des Moines caucus

The FT’s Lauren Fedor has run into Andrew Yang at a high school in West Des Moines. She send this dispatch (along with the above photo).

Andrew Yang greeted caucus goers at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, a suburban area just outside of the state capital. A group of Elizabeth Warren supporters began chanting “Dream big, fight hard” as the entrepreneur shook hands and posed for pictures.

At one point, the local precinct captain for Joe Biden told Yang that he was his second choice. Yang suggested the man move over to his group in the first round.

To the surprise of many in Washington, Yang has outlasted many experienced politicians in the Democratic field, running on a platform centred on universal basic income.

There are two precincts in one high school gym here, and each campaign has been given three minutes to make its case. Up first: Yang making the case for…himself.

Like many other Democrats, Yang’s last-ditch pitch is focused on electability. He says 18 per cent of college Republicans would vote for him over Donald Trump. This precinct went Democrat for the first time in 2016.


Emoticon Caucusing begins

And we’re off.

People are beginning the caucusing process in Southview school, in Ankeny, Iowa — a suburban bellwether. Our Washington bureau chief Demetri Sevastopulo, who is on the ground, says: “It looks like Pete Buttigieg has way more than Joe Biden”.

Moments earlier, Iowans were seen waiting patiently for caucusing to begin.


Caucus staff hand out ‘preference cards’ in Dubuque county

Patti Waldmeir in Dubuque

Here at precinct 6 of Dubuque county, the suspense mounts as caucus staff pass out “presidential preference cards” for all nine candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in Iowa.

Cards will then be counted to determine which candidates are “viable”. Supporters of those who are not viable will then be fair game for other campaigns who will try to win them over to their candidate instead.


Warren appeals for votes at caucus in Des Moines high school

Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who was leading the Democratic pack in Iowa just three months ago, has made her first appearance of the night at a caucus site in Des Moines.

As befitting an appeal before Democrats of various stripes, Warren made an appeal for unity, and claimed that she can bring together the party’s warring factions to defeat Donald Trump. Here is an excerpt of her remarks at Roosevelt High School:

We have job number one in November to beat Donald Trump. Job number two: elect Democrats up and down the ballot. I’m here because I know how to fight and I know how to win. We start with a candidate who can bring our party together. We need all Democrats united. I’m someone who treats all our Democrats with respect. I reach out and I run on core Democratic values that we can all support. We need someone who will build an organisation that is as good around the country that it is in Iowa, and I’ve got a great organisation here in Iowa. And most of all, we need someone who is going to inspire people.


Still tallying up attendees in West Des Moines

Lauren Fedor in West Des Moines

Here in West Des Moines, we are still tallying up how many people are in attendance. Democratic organisers printed 1,000 cards and estimated a turnout of 450. But those caucus organisers now expect the number to be much higher.

To determine the number in attendance, caucus goers will be handed a card and simply count off “one, two, three…” until a total is reached.


Biden narrowly advances in first round in Ankeny precinct

At Southview school in suburban Ankeny, Iowa, Joe Biden just scraped by on the first round, with 69 supporters, exactly the number needed to remain viable, reports the FT’s Demetri Sevastopulo.

The former vice president would have lost had an Elizabeth Warren supporter not made a last-minute shift to Mr Biden’s camp (apparently with the explicit intent of keeping him viable).

An unreleased poll by the The Des Moines Register showed Mr Biden was poised to face an uphill battle this evening, projecting he would rank a distant fourth in the Iowa caucuses.

Pete Buttigieg led the way in the first round in the fast-growing Des Moines suburb, scoring 117 votes. Ms Warren pulled in 94 votes and Bernie Sanders 93 votes.


Late surge for Sanders in Dubuque

Patti Waldmeir in Dubuque

In Dubuque, a late surge of Sanders supporters turned up, and they currently look like the biggest group, though counting hasn’t yet begun

And in the final moments before the tally for round one is taken, Klobuchar’s precinct campaign is frantically trying to round up three more votes to reach viability with 28 votes.

The Biden camp says they have already reached 28.


Here’s what an Iowa Democratic caucus preference card looks like

The FT’s Lauren Fedor has gotten her hands (complete with maroon nail polish) on an Iowa Democratic party presidential preference card. Here’s what the front looks like, where voters put down their first choice:

And here’s what the back looks like, where voters put their second choice.


Yang campaign gives votes to Klobuchar in Dubuque

Patti Waldmeir in Dubuque

The Yang campaign has decided to contribute some supporters to Klobuchar to make her viable, since Yang appears well short of viability on his own. The horse trading continues beyond the 15 minutes originally allotted for it.

Caucus staff are struggling with the mechanics of how the Yang campaign can donate votes to the Klobuchar campaign to prevent her losing out in round one of voting.

Eventually, they sorted things out and a cheer went up as Klobuchar was declared viable with the help of eight Yang supporters who threw their lot in with the the Minnesota senator. The rest of the Yang Gang in Dubuque went to Sanders.


Fake news alert

NBC’s BreakingNews.com Twitter account has said some users have been passing off a tweet from 2008, saying Joe Biden has dropped out of the presidential race, as if it were a new tweet.

The message from the Twitter account, which has 9.4m followers, highlights the risks of the spread of disinformation in the age of social media.


Sanders leads in town where he beat Clinton as Biden disappoints

Courtney Weaver is in the Midnight Ballroom in Marshalltown, Iowa, a town where Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton handily in the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Courtney reports that he’s doing similarly well this time around:

Marshalltown is home to a major meat packaging plant and is often considered a Democratic bellwether for the rest of the state. There are 136 people at the caucus here, meaning candidates need 21 supporters to cross the 15 per cent threshold to be considered viable.

After initial alignments, Sanders has proven he’s still very popular here, with 44 votes. Pete Buttigieg also put in a strong showing with 39, with Elizabeth Warren a distant third with 18 and Joe Biden at 14. Not a great night for Biden here.

Biden was officially declared “not viable” here in Marshalltown. Quite a shocking turn of events. Almost all of the Biden supporters have migrated to Buttigieg.


Buttigieg leads Warren in Dubuque

Patti Waldmeir in Dubuque

Voters in Dubuque are counting off for their candidates. Buttigieg is in the lead in round one with 42 votes, followed by Warren with 39.

Sanders has 38 and Biden is in last place with 30. Will Klobuchar reach viability with 28 votes?


Caucusing is like dating, one Iowan says

FT’s Demetri Sevastopulo reports that one observer in Ankeny Precint 1, Iowa, said this caucus and realignment process is like dating: “You start with your heart and go with your head”.

Meanwhile, three Tulsi Gabbard supporters refused to realign and join another camp. Bernie Sanders precinct captain Alex made one last effort to win Ms Gabbard’s supporters. He was then told off for taking more than his allotted time. And the three supporters refused to budge.

Even as the viability of candidates was up in the air, the Polk County Democrats took advantage of the caucus to fundraise and help get their party officials elected.


Results in West Des Moines trickle in

Lauren Fedor in West Des Moines

We are starting to get results here in West Des Moines. In precinct 311, where the threshold for viability after the first round was 50 votes, the results were:

Yang (31)
Biden (46)
Sanders (50)
Klobuchar (57)
Warren (60)
Buttigieg (82)

With Biden and Yang no longer viable, their voters will now be forced to realign.

In neighbouring precinct 312, where the threshold was 53 votes, the results were:

Yang (18)
Klobuchar (43)
Biden (55)
Sanders (70)
Warren (75)
Buttigieg (84)

In that precinct, Yang and Klobuchar backers will now move to their second choices.


Trump wins GOP nomination in Iowa caucuses, AP projects

News that is unlikely to surprise anyone: Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination in the Iowa caucuses, the Associated Press projects.

Mr Trump faced little meaningful competition, in line with tradition that the sitting president is considered the titular head of the party.

Stick around this live coverage page to see how the hotly contested Democratic contest plays out.


Buttigieg wins precincts in West Des Moines

Lauren Fedor in West Des Moines

Update: Pete Buttigieg has won both precinct 311 and 312 here in West Des Moines, in a strong showing for a candidate who was polling in third place state-wide according to the latest public opinion polls.

Here are the full results for the second round of voting, where the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana picked up extra support from backers of Andrew Yang, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar.

In recent days Buttigieg has pitched himself as a younger, more dynamic moderate choice, compared to the 77-year-old Biden.

Here is the second round total for 311:

Buttigieg (96)
Sanders (79)
Warren (61)
Klobuchar (60)

And for 312:

Buttigieg (108)
Warren (92)
Sanders (74)
Biden (65)


Buttigieg named winner at caucus in Des Moines suburb of Ankeny

Demetri Sevastopulo in Ankeny

Pete Buttigieg was declared the winner in precinct 1 in Ankeny, Iowa, a fast-growing suburb of Des Moines. He drew the most additional voters on the second round, stretching his lead. He had 150 supporters, compared to 106 for Warren, 105 for Sanders and 86 for Biden.

Buttigieg’s fans said they were surprised that he had done so well but that it underscored the need for a new face in politics. Biden’s supporters were relieved that he was not knocked out, but said they were surprised he did so badly compared to expectations in recent months.


Results from Iowa still not released by Democratic party

Veterans of past Iowa caucuses note that by this time four years ago, we were already seeing some official results. Several news organisations are reporting that Democratic party officials are going slow because it is putting caucus data through “quality control procedures”.

NBC News, for instance, quotes a party spokesperson as saying they currently have “no timetable for when any results would be released.”


Buttigieg nabs most votes in precinct 6, Dubuque

FT’s Patti Waldmeir reports

A strong showing for moderate Pete Buttigieg in precinct 6 in Dubuque, a working-class Catholic town that voted Republican for the first time in 50 years for Donald Trump in 2016.

Buttigieg got the most votes with 42, but leftist candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren ended the night with a combined 79 votes out of 181 (40 for Sanders and 39 for Warren). It was a disappointing night for Joe Biden, who came in fourth in terms of first round picks.

After a coin toss to resolve a second round tie between Biden and Amy Klobuchar, delegates to the county convention were announced: 2 each for the top four candidates and 1 for Klobuchar.

And despite the good weather, which the Sanders camp had hoped would boost his candidacy, the Vermont senator finished second in precinct 6.

“A good night for Pete and a bad night for the former vice-president” was the verdict of one veteran caucus goer. Voters are heading home now to await the all-Iowa results shortly.


Buttigieg wins in rural Marshalltown, where Sanders triumphed in 2016

The highly-unscientific FT primary, which is made up of the five caucuses where we sent our correspondents, is a sweep for Pete Buttigieg. He carried both West Des Moines gatherings where Lauren Fedor was in attendance, the suburban vote in Ankeny where we sent Demetri Sevastopulo, and the blue-collar vote in Dubuque where Patti Waldmeir followed results. Here’s Courtney Weaver’s report from rural Marshalltown.

Here at the Midnight Ballroom in Marshalltown, Buttigieg has ended up as the winner of the night, pulling ahead of Sanders in the second round, thanks to defectors from Biden who was unable to make it past the first round.

The final total:

Buttigieg, 55
Sanders, 45
Warren, 29

That’s a surprisingly good result for Warren, who had just 18 supporters initially (the viability threshold was 21), but picked up a lot of support in the second round, particularly from Klobuchar fans.

The result was a testament to Buttigieg’s impressive organizational efforts and the large amounts of time the South Bend mayor spent campaigning in the state.

Buttigieg’s supporters came to the caucus site dressed in marching t-shirts and bearing an array of balloons and bunting, many recounting the multiple visits Buttigieg had made to the town, including a yard party and a town hall at the very caucus site.

While Buttigieg’s supporters were predominately white and middle-aged or older, Sanders drew from a younger and more diverse crowd, with significant support from the Latino community. (Roughly one in four of the town’s residents are Latino.)

Sanders’ campaign has focused on Latino outreach as a central tenet of its strategy, pointing to the Vermont senator’s strong performance among that group in 2016.


Let the jokes begin: everyone’s a comedian during delay in results

As the political world sits and waits for the delayed official results from Iowa, social media has begun to fill with hot takes, including conspiracies aplenty. Our favourites, however, are the jokes. A few we like:

First, the obligatory Venezuelan reference:

Then, there’s the dad can’t figure out why the computer won’t work version:

Build it and they will come:

The Leslie Nielson Naked Gun meme has made an appearance:

Let’s hope the Democrats’ voting system password isn’t “password”:

Who will be first-in-the-nation in the end?


Iowa Democratic Party statement: delay for ‘quality checks’

The Iowa Democratic party has put out a statement on the delay in the results:

The integrity of the results is paramount. We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the Iowa Democratic party is reporting out three data sets for the first time. What we know right now is that around 25% of precincts have reported, and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016.


Klobuchar claims a strong Iowa result despite lack of official results

Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator who was polling fifth going into this evening’s Iowa caucuses, is the first major candidate to deliver a speech to supporters since the polls have closed.

Klobuchar seemed to take advantage of the lack of any official data on vote tallies to claim she had out-performed expectations. “We hear there are delays, but we know one thing: we are punching above our weight,” she told supporters at her Iowa headquarters in Des Moines.

The moderate who has attempted to stake out the political centre vowed to head to New Hampshire for next week’s primary: “We are feeling so good tonight,” she said. “Somehow, someway, I’m getting on a plane tonight to New Hampshire.”


Biden claims he’s ‘feeling good’ despite signs of disappointing results

After Amy Klobuchar, former vice-president Joe Biden popped up at his campaign headquarters in Des Moines to make similar claims of success without any official results.

“Well, it looks like it’s gonna be a long night, but I’m feeling good,” Biden told his supporters. Unlike Klobuchar, Biden acknowledged that the final tally remained unknown, saying only that early indications are “that it’s going to be close”.

“The Iowa Democratic party is working to get the results straight,” he said, before insisting: “We’re in it for the long haul.”

Biden then appeared to revert to his prepared remarks, taking aimed at Donald Trump:

Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. Well, it’s fortunate they do know now. They didn’t know last time, I don’t think. But they know now. And folks, we need to let them know who we are. We, we choose hope over fear. We choose science over fiction, unity over division, and compassion over cruelty. And maybe most importantly of all, truth over lies. Folks, we’re going to do this. I promise you. I promise we’re going to get this done.


Trump declares big win in Iowa

As Iowa Democrats hit a snag delaying the release of any vote counts from the caucuses, Donald Trump took to Twitter to declare “a big win for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!”.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1224550106462138368

It wasn’t immediately clear if the President was taking a swipe at his political rivals or referring to his win at the Republican caucuses.

Reince Priebus, former Trump White House chief of staff, mocked Democrats in a pair of tweets, first declaring “Classic
@TheDemocrats!”. And then

https://twitter.com/Reince/status/1224547808075751424


Sanders also claims strong results but acknowledges result hiccup

Bernie Sanders followed the other major candidates by addressing his supporters at campaign headquarters despite a lack of official results. Before restating his election case on stage in Des Moines, Sanders made a passing reference to the party snafu.

“I have a strong feeling at some point the results will be counted,” Sanders said to laughs in the crowd. “And when the results are announced, I have a good feeling we’ll be doing very very well here in Iowa.”

Here are some highlights from Sanders’ speech:

• “Tonight, in this enormously consequential 2020 election, the first state in the country has voted, and today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history.”

• “Unlike the president of the United States, the American people understand that climate change is not a hoax. Now is the time to take on the fossil fuel industry.”

• “We are going to win this election because the people of the United States are sick and tried of a massive level of income and wealth inequality.”


Warren says Iowa result is ‘too close to call’

Elizabeth Warren told her supporters in Des Moines that the Iowa results were “too close to call”. She then said that she would tell those gathered at her headquarters “what I do know”. A supporter then loudly shouted: “You won!”

Riotous laughs and cheers followed.

Warren then dived into her thank you speech, which attempted to distinguish herself from Donald Trump by contrasting the wealth he grew up with to her more humble background.

“The only thing Donald Trump values is Donald Trump. He thinks the government is just one more thing to exploit. .. I believe government should work for everyone,” she said.

Here are some other highlights from Warren’s remarks:

• “Our union is stronger than Donald Trump and in less than a year our union will be stronger than ever when that one man is replaced by one very persistent woman.”

• “If you can imagine a democracy where people not money come first, then this is the campaign for you.”

• “Tonight we are one step closer to winning the fight for the America we believe is possible.”


Buttigieg: Iowa you have shocked the nation

FT’s Lauren Fedor reports:

Former South Bend Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg is the latest candidate to claim victory tonight, even without results.

Speaking to a large, enthusiastic crowd at Drake University in Des Moines, Buttigieg said: “Tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality. So we don’t know all of the results, but we know that by the time it is all said and done, Iowa you have shocked the nation. By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

As the crowd chanted “President Pete, President Pete!” and “I-O-W-A Mayor Pete all the way,” Buttigieg said Iowa voters had “proved the skeptics wrong”.


Here’s how things stand

It’s 1:20 am ET and Iowa’s votes are yet to be counted.

Party officials in Iowa said they were unable to announce results as they dealt with a “quality control” problem with their vote counting technology and officials reported “inconsistencies” in caucus results from some precincts, .

Despite the lack of clarity on when we will actually get results a number of candidates have essentially delivered altered versions of victory speeches.

Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend Indiana mayor who just one year ago was a relative unknown, declared victory saying “By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

Meanwhile, Republicans have been poking fun at Iowa’s caucus fiasco. Brad Parscale, Donald Trump’s campaign manager tweeted:

https://twitter.com/parscale/status/1224549934575378434


Internal caucus data paint muddy picture

Mamta Badkar and Demetri Sevastopulo report

We may not have official results from Iowa Democratic Party officials but we do have internal figures from the Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns.

One person familiar with the Buttigieg campaign’s internal data said the former South Bend mayor was confident that he had won Iowa after receiving the results of caucuses from 77 per cent of their precinct campaigns around the state.

The person said the campaign had predicted before Monday that they would be tied in terms of delegates awarded from the caucuses. But he said the data showed that Buttigieg was doing 8-points better than his own team had forecast. He said Buttigieg had been viable — reached the 15 per cent threshold — in 1,064 of the 1,301 precincts from which the campaign team had so far obtained data.

Meanwhile, the figures from Sanders’ campaign, which represent results from just 40 per cent of Iowa’s precincts, put Sanders ahead of Buttigieg with Elizabeth Warren trailing in third and former vice president Joe Biden a distant fourth.

“Due to the failure of the Iowa Democratic Party to release results tonight and in the interest of full transparency, Bernie 2020 Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver is releasing the campaign’s internal reporting numbers,” Sanders’ campaign said in an email to reporters.

A glitch with the Iowa Democratic party’s reporting app combined with a failure of its telephonic back-up system meant the party was unable to announce the results of any of nearly 1,700 caucuses across the state, local officials said.
At present it is unclear whether officials results would be released in coming hours or later on Tuesday.


Democrats public relations disaster in Iowa

Edward Luce, FT’s National Editor, writes:

The Kremlin could not have contrived a better start to the Democratic presidential race if they had tried. Nor could Donald Trump. As it happens, the debacle is almost certainly the fault of the Iowa Democratic party. The blame, however, is likely to affect Democrats more generally. The taint of incompetence will be hard to shake off.

Four years of preparation in a tiny state of 3.2m people — with a caucus turnout of just 172,000 — was apparently insufficient to produce a secure process. At the best of times, Iowa’s way of counting votes looks idiosyncratic. Now it looks like a large unforced error.

It also threatens to revive the curdled narratives of 2016. That election was badly marred by two controversies. The better remembered one were the allegations of Russian interference summarised in Robert Mueller’s report. Almost as bitter was the Bernie Sanders’ claim that the Democratic Party had rigged the process in Hillary Clinton’s favour.


Warren campaign: It is very close

Elizabeth Warren’s chief strategist has said “it’s a very close race” between Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

In a series of tweets, Joe Rospars said that Joe Biden “came a distant fourth” and criticised candidates for declaring victory even while numbers are still coming in.

The caucus has descended into chaos, with party officials still unable to announce a winner as they deal with “inconsistencies” in results from some precincts and a problem with vote counting technology.

https://twitter.com/rospars/status/1224588773763305473?s=20


Iowa Democrats: Expect numbers to report later today

The Iowa Democrats have said they expect to have results to share “later today”, without being more specific on timing, local media is reporting.

It is nearly 2am now in the state, and we are still waiting on official results.

Brianne Pfannenstiel, a reporter for the Des Moines register, shared this update following a call with Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democrats.

https://twitter.com/brianneDMR/status/1224590583194423297?s=20


Biden campaign demands information on results outage

Jack Denton writes:

Dana Remus, general counsel for Joe Biden’s campaign, called on the Iowa Democratic Party to provide campaigns with the opportunity to respond to information regarding “methods of quality control” before the final results are released.

In a letter to Troy Price, chair of the local Democrats, and the party’s executive director Kevin Geiken, Remus said the mishap stemmed from the failure of an app that was intended to relay caucus results to the Party.

“We understand that Caucus Chairs are attempting to – and, in many cases, failing to – report results telephonically to the party,” Remus said. “These acute failures are occurring statewide.”

Remus said that the campaigns deserve “full explanations and relevant information” regarding the quality control methods being employed as well as “an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released.”


How things stand on a chaotic night in Iowa

The opening round of the Democratic presidential nomination has descended into farce, with the party scrambling to deal with a glitch that has delayed the reporting of results in the first set-piece event in this year’s race to the White House.

The party in Iowa has said it expects to be able to report numbers later on Tuesday.

That has not stopped several of the front-runners from putting a positive spin on results as they addressed their supporters with no concrete indications of how they had performed.

· Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, went so far as to say: “By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

· Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who led the polls going into Monday’s caucuses, said: “I have a good feeling we’ll be doing very very well here in Iowa.”

· Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has said the result is too close to call, but that it is a close race between Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg.