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Democratic Primary News

Sanders goes into Iowa with growing support and strong fundraising. The DNC changes its rules for the next debate.

Nick Ottens

Written by

Nick Ottens
Pete Buttigieg
South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg visits Atlanta, Georgia, November 27, 2019 (PFA/Lawrence Jackson)
  • Bernie Sanders is going into Monday’s Iowa caucuses with an average of 24 percent support in the polls, followed by Joe Biden at 20 percent.
  • Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren both poll around 15 percent in the state, which is the minimum needed to qualify for delegates.
  • Nationally, Biden still leads with an average of 27 percent support against 23.5 for Sanders.
  • Sanders raised the most money in 2019 ($96 million), but billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who are largely self-funding their campaigns, outspent the other candidates ($388 million combined).
  • Bloomberg‘s Super Tuesday strategy may be working. The former New York mayor has moved into fourth place in national polls.
  • John Delaney has ended his presidential bid.

How the Iowa caucuses work

Iowa will allocate 41 of its 49 delegates to the nominating convention in July based on the outcome of the caucuses on Monday.

The remaining eight delegates will be five members of the Democratic National Committee and Iowa’s three Democratic members of Congress. They will be unpledged delegates, or superdelegates, who can vote for any candidate (although they cannot be tiebreakers on the first ballot). Three have endorsed Biden and one Buttigieg.

To qualify for pledged delegates, who are bound on the first ballot, candidates usually need 15 percent support at a given caucus site. That puts Buttigieg and Warren in the danger zone. Klobuchar, who is polling under 10 percent, is likely to end her presidential bid unless she stages a surprise comeback.

Things could change at individual caucus places. Supporters of candidates who don’t meet the 15 percent threshold will be allowed to switch. Given that caucus sites are usually small, a mere handful of votes could make the difference between qualifying or not.

CNN has more.

What’s next?

  • February 3: Iowa caucuses
  • February 7: ABC debate in Manchester
  • February 11: New Hampshire primary
  • February 19: NBC debate in Las Vegas. The Democratic National Committee has canceled its donor requirements for this debate. Candidates will only need to meet polling thresholds. This could help Bloomberg qualify.

Read more

  • More doubts about Sanders’ electability from Jonathan Chait, David Frum and William Saletan.
  • Noah Smith argues that conservatives should welcome a Sanders candidacy. If a moderate like Biden loses against Donald Trump, Democrats may be motivated to nominate a more left-wing, woke candidate in 2024 — who could win, simply because Americans will by then be ready for a change.
  • Kevin D. Williamson, a conservative, wonders why progressives aren’t warming to Bloomberg when he is the sort of man Democrats claim they want: “Pragmatic, non-ideological, results-oriented and bipartisan enough that he’s already been elected as a Republican and an independent.”

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