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February 17, 2020
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Live updates as Democrats face their first test

Live updates as Democrats face their first test
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Updated 36m ago

How the early primary and caucus states help shape the election

How the early primary and caucus states help shape the election

There are only 155 delegates up for grabs in the three contests following the Iowa caucuses. Still, these early states can help shape the election moving forward. LaCrai Mitchell, Alex Tin and Nicole Sganga discuss how the presidential hopefuls plan to make their mark in the next month. 


Updated 12m ago

Warren urges unity in remarks to Democratic caucus-goers in Des Moines

Sen. Warren Attends Iowa Caucus In Des Moines
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses a caucus in the gymnasium at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, February 3, 2020.


Elizabeth Warren preached a message of unity before a caucus at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines kicked off.

“I’m here because I know how to fight and I know how to win,” Warren said. “We start with a candidate who can bring our party together. We need all Democrats united.”

The Massachusetts senator, who departed Washington for Iowa after the end of closing arguments in the Senate impeachment trial Monday afternoon, also posed for photos with supporters.

In her last-minute pitch, Warren stressed that Democrats’ number one job in November is to defeat Mr. Trump. Their second job, she added, is to “elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”

“2020 is our moment in history, our moment to make this the America of our best values, our moment for keeping promises, our moment to dream big, fight hard and win,” she told caucus-goers.” — Zak Hudak and Melissa Quinn


Updated 37m ago

Mike Bloomberg: “Nothing magical about California and the first day of the Iowa caucus”

While the rest of the field is in Iowa Mike Bloomberg spent the day traveling throughout California, telling voters he plans to put significant resources on the ground — including 800 paid and part-time staffers.

The state offers the biggest delegate prize of the Super Tuesday states.

Still, Bloomberg told CBS News, “there’s nothing magical about California and the first day of the Iowa caucus.”
“It just worked out in the schedule — there’s no reason to have it on any one day. California is a very big state with a lot of delegates, so you’d obviously come here more,” he told CBS News.

Bloomberg said he isn’t worried about Monday night’s results in Iowa, and added that he is more interested in traveling the country and talking to voters, not just in the Super Tuesday states, but also in the key battleground states Democrats need to win back to defeat President Trump. He even touted his own rise with voters, saying, “You see the crowds showing up. Just take a look at how many cameras there were on the stage.” 

Read more here.

— Tim Perry


Updated 38m ago

Steyer makes his case ahead of caucuses

Tom Steyer makes his case ahead of Iowa caucuses

Tom Steyer has outspent his Democratic opponents in Iowa, but it remains to be seen if that will yield delegates for him in the caucuses. The candidate talks Trump, climate change, and the economy with CBSN ahead of the nation’s first primary contest.


Updated 53m ago

CBS News projects Trump will win GOP caucuses

CBS News projects Donald Trump will win the GOP caucuses in Iowa. The president has no competitive challenger within his party. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Congressman Joe Walsh are challenging him. 


Updated 7m ago

Iowa caucus-goers are older and mostly white

Who turned out for the Iowa caucuses?

Entrance polling provides a look at the voters attending the Iowa caucuses: 42% are male and 58% are female; 92% are white and 8% are non-white. 

Iowa caucus-goers are about evenly split between college graduates and those with no college degree. 


The largest age group is voters 65 and older, who account for 30% of this year’s attendees. About 21% of caucus-goers are in the youngest age group, 17-29; another 21% are ages 30-44; and 28% are ages 45-64.

But this year’s Iowa-caucus goers are younger overall than in 2016: 44% are under 45 this year, compared to 37% in the 2016 Iowa entrance poll. 
In terms of political philosophy, 25% say they are very liberal, 42% are somewhat liberal, 31% are moderate, and 2% describe themselves as conservative.

Melissa Herrmann 


Updated 8:45 PM

Precincts in Iowa’s largest county running out of voter registration forms, county Democratic chair says

Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats, tweeted precincts in the county are running out of voter registration forms.

“We printed tens of thousands of extra voter registration forms and some precincts are still running out. We’re making copies and deliveries to get them covered, but this Caucus is gonna be the big one,” he tweeted roughly 20 minutes before the caucuses began.

Polk County is Iowa’s most populous county and includes Des Moines, the state capital.


Updated 8:48 PM

Caucus doors close as first-in-the-nation contest officially begins

It is 8 p.m. on the East Coast — the doors have just closed, and the Iowa caucuses are underway. CBS News estimates a four-way race between Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren for initial preference.


Updated 8:25 PM

Majority of Iowa caucus-goers want a candidate who can beat Trump, rather than one who agrees with them

The majority of Iowa caucus-goers said they would rather see the Democratic Party nominate a candidate who can beat Donald Trump (61%) as opposed to a candidate who agrees with them on major issues. 

Health care was the most important issue for Democratic caucus-goers in deciding which candidate to support, according to the results of entrance polling. When asked which issue matters most in their decision, 41% of Iowa caucus attendees said health care, 21% said climate change, 16% said income inequality, and 14% said foreign policy. 


Over half of Iowa caucus attendees this year also said they support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone. 

About a third of Iowa caucus-goers said that today was their first caucus.
Two-thirds of today’s Iowa caucus-goers said they decided which candidate to support in January or before that; 20% said they decided in the last few days; and 11% said they decided who to vote for today.


– Melissa Herrmann


Updated 8:49 PM

Iowa female farmers on what they are looking for in a Democratic candidate

Farmers talk health care and trade wars ahead of Iowa caucus

Billie Wilson, Chris Henning, Ellen Walsh-Rosmann and LaVon Griffieon are all farmers with a passion for politics. They told CBS News’ Janet Shamlian that each will caucus for a Democrat in Iowa.

“I think all of them can beat Donald Trump,” said 33-year-old Walsh-Rosmann.

She’s a mother of two who thinks Elizabeth Warren can revitalize farm country.

“I want to make sure that people my age and peers are coming back and they have a reason to come back to rural America,” she said.

Henning, 72, has only decided she’s not supporting Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

“My issues are their age, their health and their stamina,” Henning said. “They’re older than me and— and I think I’m too old to run for office.”

Like many of her rural neighbors, healthcare is an issue for 66-year-old Wilson.

“In small towns, most people don’t have anybody that pays their insurance. Even, you know, even the small businesses don’t provide insurance,” Wilson said. “So everybody is in the same boat.” 

LaVon Griffieon, 63, is concerned about the economy. “In 2012, we had soybeans that were $15, and now they’re at $8. That’s half,” Griffieon said.


Updated 47m ago

Trump surrogates stump for president in Iowa ahead of caucuses

Eric Trump speaks during a “Keep Iowa Great” press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 3, 2020. Also on stage: Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, Eric’s wife Lara Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.


While all eyes are on the Democrats, top officials from Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign are also in Iowa for the Republican caucuses.

The president’s two sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, joined Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and other surrogates for a press conference in West Des Moines, during which the group blasted the Democratic presidential candidates and highlighted Mr. Trump’s accomplishments in his first three years in office.

Trump Jr. was interrupted by a protester who said that since his father’s election, there has been a spike in attacks on Jewish people in the U.S. The protester was escorted out of the event.

Parscale told the audience he believes Bernie Sanders will “do well,” while Trump Jr. suggested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deliberately designed the impeachment proceedings to coincide with the runup to the Iowa caucuses, ensuring Sanders would be stuck in Washington for BIden’s benefit.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, took to social media to share memories from the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas topped the vast Republican field in Iowa in 2016.  — Melissa Quinn and Ben Mitchell


Updated 6:10 PM / February 3, 2020

The results: Here’s what to expect

On caucus night, the Iowa Democratic Party will release three sets of results: the popular vote from the first alignment, the popular vote after the realignment, and the number of state delegate equivalents a candidate wins. The person who wins the most state delegate equivalents will technically win the Iowa caucuses because that number will determine how many delegates the candidate wins for the national convention.

Depending on the size of the precinct, the process can take a couple of hours, but some results are expected to start coming in around 9:00 p.m. ET. The bulk of the results will likely come in a couple of hours later. CBS News will have results on the air and CBSN will be broadcasting live from Iowa.

Read more in CBS News Daily Trail Markers here.

— Caitlin Conant and Anthony Salvanto 


Updated 4:18 PM / February 3, 2020

How many times have candidates visited Iowa from 1/1/2019 to 2/2/2020?

These are the seven candidates competing in Iowa. Michael Bennet and Tulsi Gabbard decided to focus their efforts elsewhere and stopped campaigning in Iowa months ago.  These counts date from January 1, 2019 to February 2, 2020, beginning either when the candidate started an exploratory committee or filed with the FEC, whichever came first.

Linked to the candidates’ names are their heat maps, which tell the story of where they’ve spent their time in Iowa over the past year.

Joe Biden
Trips: 22
Total Days Spent: 61
Total Campaign Events: 136
Pete Buttigieg
Trips: 25
Total Days Spent: 64
Total Campaign Events: 167
Amy Klobuchar
Trips: 32
Total Days Spent: 69
Total Campaign Events: 206
Bernie Sanders
Trips: 20
Total Days Spent: 58
Total Campaign Events: 145
Tom Steyer
Trips: 13
Total Days Spent: 36
Total Campaign Events: 78
Elizabeth Warren
Trips: 27
Total Days Spent: 59
Total Campaign Events: 119
Andrew Yang**
Trips: 15
Total Days Spent: 53
Total Campaign Events: 171 (**Yang campaigned in Iowa starting in August of 2018. These numbers reflect his trips since January of 2019.)
— Adam Brewster and Musadiq Bidar


Updated 2:21 PM / February 3, 2020

Will Iowa caucuses predict the Democratic nominee? In 7 of the past 9 contested Democratic races, it did.

The Iowa caucuses are always closely watched and exhaustively analyzed — but how often do they accurately predict which candidate will be the eventual nominee?

A look at recent political history shows Iowa voters often pick a winner — but not always.

In the past 11 presidential races, the Iowa Democratic caucus correctly predicted the Democratic nominee seven times. Iowa was only wrong about the Democratic nominee twice. (Two times, an incumbent was running, so there was no Iowa race.)

So, in seven out of the nine contested Iowa Democratic caucuses, the person who won Iowa became the party’s nominee.

The Republican caucuses in the state have not predicted the party’s nominee as frequently. In the past 11 races, the nominee was predicted by the Iowa caucuses only four times. Three times, an incumbent was running, so there was no Iowa race. So, in four out of the eight contested Iowa Republican caucuses, the state’s winner became the party’s nominee.

Read more here.


Updated 1:29 PM / February 3, 2020

Caucus facts

  • Caucuses begin at 8 p.m. ET. The presidential preference part of the night, when caucus-goers elect delegates for their chosen candidate will likely take an hour or two. 
  • This is the first year “satellite caucuses” will be open. Seventy-one sites will be set up to allow people who can’t leave their jobs or who are in assisted living facilities to participate. Iowans living outside the state may also caucus in the 25 sites in states outside of Iowa, plus three international sites, in France, Scotland and the Republic of Georgia.
  • There are 1,678 precincts across Iowa.
  • In 2016, 171,109 people showed up for the Democratic caucuses between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Clinton won by a margin of less than 0.5%
  • There are 41 delegates at stake in Iowa, out of the 3,979 pledged national delegates in the Democratic primary process. 
  • The winning candidate will need 1,991 pledged delegates to secure the nomination.

— Adam Brewster and Musadiq Bidar


Updated 1:28 PM / February 3, 2020

Where the senators running for president plan to be on Caucus Night

The senators running for president are back in Washington today for the closing arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial. Bernie Sanders told reporters in the Capitol he’ll be on his way to Iowa after the arguments are over.

Amy Klobuchar, also in the Capitol, said she’s “looking forward to hearing the arguments,” but once they’ve concluded, “I’m getting back there” to Iowa. Around midnight, she plans to go to New Hampshire. After an arrival in the wee hours of the morning, she plans to hit the trail with several events Tuesday.

Warren did not say where she’d be on Caucus night, saying that it “depends on Mitch McConnell — he’s the one who controls the schedule.”

Michael Bennet plans to go to New Hampshire this evening. 

Katie Ross Dominick, Rob Legare, Adam Brewster, Grace Segers and Amber Ali


Updated 1:28 PM / February 3, 2020

Trump urges Republicans to caucus today

Although the president faces no significant threats in his reelection race, Mr. Trump wants Republican voters to caucus, too, touting recent trade deals his administration has reached.

“Republicans in Iowa, go out and Caucus today. Your great Trade Deals with China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, South Korea and more, are DONE,” he wrote. “Great times are coming, after waiting for decades, for our Farmers, Ranchers, Manufacturers and ALL. Nobody else could have pulled this off!”

The Republican Party is holding caucuses, though they haven’t attracted as much attention as the Democrats have. Still, the Trump campaign will have a substantial presence here, with 80 surrogates at caucus sites around Iowa. In 2016, Mr. Trump placed second to Ted Cruz here. 

This time around, only long-shot candidates Congressman Joe Walsh, of Illinois, and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld are challenging Mr. Trump for the GOP nomination.

The president visited Des Moines on Thursday night for his first campaign rally in Iowa this year. Hundreds of people in the overflow crowd watched Mr. Trump speak on a big screen outside the venue. 
— Adam Brewster and Musadiq Bidar contributed.


Updated 7:59 AM / February 3, 2020

“Viability threshold” and the Iowa caucuses

Unlike a primary, a caucus is not a “one person, one vote” system. Instead, Iowans will be electing delegates through a complex process that dates back to the 19th century. There are no ballots, and caucus-goers aren’t technically voting for candidates but rather for delegates who support a given candidate.    

If a candidate fails to attract 15% of support from caucus goers at a caucus location, that candidate will not clear the “viability threshold,” meaning that candidates’ supporters will have to either pick another candidate or their votes will not count. This process is called realignment.

This realignment process is critical. If your candidate wasn’t viable and you’re looking for a new group, viable campaigns will be competing to try to win you over. If you’re part of a well-organized campaign on the cusp of viability, your team will be desperately trying to try to pick off supporters of other non-viable campaigns. The best organized campaigns, with well-trained and experienced people on their side, are in strong positions to increase their size on caucus night.    — Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster


Updated 5:03 PM / February 3, 2020

CBS News Battleground Tracker: Possible scenarios for Biden, Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg


The final CBS News Iowa Battleground Tracker offers a statistical simulation of the caucuses and some scenarios that might unfold on Monday. It looks like a close contest heading in, and the top candidates are all poised to win national delegates.

To show what could happen — and more importantly, why — we continued interviewing likely caucus-goers this week for their first- and second-choice preferences in our polling, then combined it with data on Iowa voters generally, and how the caucus system works across the state’s counties and districts.

Monday dawns with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden even in first-choice support at 25% each in our baseline model, Pete Buttigieg very close behind at 21%, and Elizabeth Warren at 16%, also in position to accrue some national delegates. Amy Klobuchar is at 5% in our baseline estimate, and all other candidates are under 5%.

Read full results here.

Iowa caucus: Poll shows tight race with Biden, Sanders tied

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