Voting in the 2020 election kicks off today, exactly nine months before Election Day, as Iowans gather at more than 1,600 caucus sites to pick their favorite candidate.
Candidates have been criss-crossing the Hawkeye State for more than two months (Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar have clocked in the most Iowa-time, spending 71 and 67 day there, respectively). The Iowa Caucuses are famous for person-to-person campaigning. It’s not just about making your picks inside a private voting booth — citizens can be swayed by their neighbors throughout the night to ditch their initial pick for nominee and go with a different candidate.
Many young voters will enter politics for the first time tonight, and during the day Cheddar caught up with a precinct captain at the University of Iowa.
While those in Iowa waited all day for tonight’s main events, caususes were also held overseas and Senator Elizabeth Warren got off to an early lead in Paris — one of three global sites where, for the first time, Iowans who are out of the country be able to participate in the Democratic caucuses.
Results of first round of Paris satellite Iowa Caucus:— Charli James (@charli) February 3, 2020
*Three caucus goers needed for viability. So now the jockeying begins to grab the Buttigieg supporters.@France24_en @FRANCE24 #IowaCaucuses #IowaCaucus @iowademocrats pic.twitter.com/skX6wOF5P2
Back in Iowa tonight the caucuses are underway and some caucusgoers brought their talking points to support their favorite candidates. Others brought liquid courage.
At one Des Moines precinct tonight, an attendee brought in a concealed bottle of wine, dropped it, and it shattered everywhere pic.twitter.com/qHNMP6NLOH— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) February 4, 2020
Now that the doors have closed across gymnasiums, community centers and libraries across the state, voters will pick their top choice. But some voters came in planning to vote for one candidate, only to meet another and change before the caucus even started.
Two Republicans who are caucusing today as Democrats just told me they came in to caucus for @PeteButtigieg but @AndrewYang changed their mind by just walking in and saying hi.— Eugene Daniels (@EugeneDaniels2) February 4, 2020
“This is all about emotions for us Iowans. How can you not get excited when the guy is here?”
So how does it work? This about sums it up.
At the Des Moines Knapp Center, Iowans are making moves into candidate corners. For those who have never seen how a caucus works, it's literally people moving to their respective corners.
My first Iowa Caucus. People are moving into their candidate corners at the Knapp Center NOW! pic.twitter.com/34etAL0BRO— Priscilla Thompson (@PriscillaWT) February 4, 2020
Any candidate who gets at least 15 percent in most cases is considered a “viable” candidate and their supporters are locked into their choice.
Here at precinct 316 in West Des Moines, Amy Klobuchar reaches viability — 56 needed for viable. Bernie is not viable here. pic.twitter.com/3OCeIRiax3— Natasha Korecki (@natashakorecki) February 4, 2020
But if a candidate gets less than 15 percent of the caucus, they are considered “not viable” and their supporters can opt to either move to another candidate’s corner or convince fellow caucusgoers to join them.
Of course, that begs the question: Is it humane or harsh that voters have to ditch their pick if they’re not viable?
brainstorming ways to use 'nonviable' as every-day criticism— Rachel Cohen (@rmc031) February 4, 2020
Of course, only Americans over 18 can caucus today (or those who will be 18 by Election Day), but it's never too early to get a civics lesson!
When your parents are caucusing: pic.twitter.com/lS3yzl2DJ0— Lauren Gambino (@laurenegambino) February 4, 2020
The caucus has moved into the realignment phase — when citizens try to talk neighbors into switching camps. And when all else fails, there’s always a good ol’ fashioned coin toss.
Buttigieg and Warren tie. Coin toss about to happen pic.twitter.com/fJVqDDN5pS— John Pemble (@johnpemble) February 4, 2020
Moving into the 11pm ET hour, it looks like there’s been a hitch in the caucuses’ giddyup.
Iowa appears to be reporting more results than in elections past, adding to the delay.
“We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out 3 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."—@iowademocrats— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 4, 2020
Although Iowa results are still forthcoming, Sen. Amy Klobuchar decided to go ahead and speak to her supporters around 11:30pm ET. So, with only 41 delegates of the required 1,991 needed to win the Democratic nomination up for grabs tonight, the ability shape her narrative tonight may count for something.
Smart for @amyklobuchar to jump out here.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 4, 2020
Yet Sen. Bernie Sanders remains confident...the results will come eventually.
“I have a strong feeling that at some point the results will be announced, and when those results are announced, I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here tonight.”@BernieSanders speaks as the results of the #IowaCaucus are delayed. #CheddarLive pic.twitter.com/MtVdbjYE9g— Cheddar🧀 (@cheddar) February 4, 2020
Former VP Joe Biden says he’s feeling good...but he’s ready to move on to the next big event: New Hampshire!
But as the clock struck midnight (ET) on Iowa Caucus night, and the results escaped our grasp, many in the Twitter-verse agreed:
Iowa... pic.twitter.com/oI0FRMJnTi— Jenny Jue (@DowntownCasting) February 4, 2020
This story was updated throughout the night.