2020 Kickoff: Election Excitement Leads to a Long Night for Iowa Caucuses

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Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock
February 4, 2020

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.

Back in Iowa tonight the caucuses are underway and some caucusgoers brought their talking points to support their favorite candidates. Others brought liquid courage.

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.

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.

Any candidate who gets at least 15 percent in most cases is considered a “viable” candidate and their supporters are locked into their choice.

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?

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!

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.

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.

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.

Yet Sen. Bernie Sanders remains confident...the results will come eventually.

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:

This story was updated throughout the night.

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