Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Clinton Barely Edges Out Sanders in Final Iowa Tally

The Iowa Democratic Party has released the final results of the caucuses and Hillary Clinton won with 49.8% to Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-VT) 49.6%, the closest finish ever in a Democratic caucus. In January, Sanders was ahead in some polls, but in the last week he slipped behind. In the first days of the race, Clinton had a 40-point lead over Sanders, but his authentic style of campaigning and his constant hammering on inequality as an issue bought him a virtual tie.

In fact, in several of Iowa's precincts, the result actually was a tie. And in some cases, the caucus participants—entirely in accordance with party rules—had to resolve the tie with a coin flip. For much of the day on Tuesday, various sources were reporting six instances of this happening, with all six of the flips breaking Clinton's way. If this was correct, and the flips had split evenly instead, Sanders would have claimed 699.82 statewide delegate equivalents to 697.59 for Clinton, technically giving him a "win," 50.07% to 49.92% (with the other .01% belonging to Martin O'Malley). However, more up-to-date intelligence suggests that the real number was more like 12 or 13 coin flips, which broke evenly.

Of course, what really matters is delegates. And an examination of that aspect of the results reveals how silly the tendency is to give in to the horse race narrative and declare a "winner" when the vote is this close. At the moment, everyone is reporting that Clinton won 23 delegates on Monday to Sanders' 21. Clinton also has pledges from six of Iowa's eight Democratic superdelegates, giving her 29 in total. However, the superdelegates are free to change their minds whenever they wish, so those six are "soft." Meanwhile, Iowa did not actually award its at-large delegates on Monday. What really happened was that Clinton, Sanders, and Martin O'Malley each won the right to send a certain number of "loyal" supporters to the county conventions on March 12, to advocate on behalf of their candidates. The county conventions will then choose delegates to the district conventions on April 30. The district conventions will pledge 29 of Iowa's 44 at-large delegates, and choose delegates to the Iowa state convention on June 18. The Iowa state convention will pledge the other 15 at-large delegates. The upshot is that the 23-21 total is just a rough estimate, and one that the Iowa Democratic Party freely acknowledges will probably not be accurate. The totals could change based on how "loyal" the Iowans chosen by the campaigns really are, or on how the math just happens to work out at each level of the process, or on what happens to the small number of delegates currently committed to Martin O'Malley, or even on a coin flip. For this reason, Sanders is leaving behind some campaign infrastructure in Iowa, and declaring that the contest is not yet over. Clinton is likely to do the same.

The race now moves to New Hampshire, where Sanders has led in the polls for some time. And he is a neighbor, of course, which gives him the home field advantage. The real test for Sanders will be what happens when the contest moves to states that are less than 91% white, in particular, Nevada and South Carolina. Since all Democratic primaries and caucuses are proportional and Sanders has done very well at raising money (see below), the race could go on for months. (V & Z)

Clinton and Sanders Voters See Issues Differently

The Washington Post reports on the entrance poll to the Iowa caucuses, which asked a large number of questions of caucusgoers. Here are some of the results:

Most important candidate quality Clinton Sanders O'Malley
Can win in November 77% 17% 2%
Cares about people like me 22% 74% 3%
Has right experience 88% 9% 2%
Honest and trustworthy 10% 83% 4%

In other words, caucusgoers who cared most about a candidate who can win in November or has the right experience to be President went for Clinton by huge margins. Caucusgoers who want a candidate who cares about people like themselves or one who is honest and trustworthy went for Sanders by a huge margin.

Another breakdown can be made depending on what people see as the nation's top issue:

Nation's top issue Clinton Sanders O'Malley
The economy 51% 42% 4%
Health care 59% 38% 1%
Income inequality 34% 61% 3%
Terrorism 65% 28% 5%

Here we see that that among people who see inequality as the top issue, Sanders won decisively, but voters who see the economy (meaning jobs), health care, or terrorism as the top issue preferred Clinton. Also noteworthy is the among voters earning less than $50,000, Sanders was the favorite but above $50,000 it was Clinton. (V)

Republican Voters Also See Things Differently

The questions asked of Republican caucusgoers were different from the ones asked of Democrats, as follows. First, the most important candidate quality:

Most important candidate quality Cruz Trump Rubio Carson Paul
Can bring needed change 25% 33% 20% 10% 3%
Can win in November 22% 24% 44% 1% 1%
Shares my values 38% 5% 21% 15% 7%
Tells it like it is 11% 66% 4% 6% 4%

The distribution is flatter here, but the number that stands out most is Donald Trump's score on "tells it like it is." The Republicans who want an honest candidate went for Trump by a yuuuge margin. Also noteworthy is that almost no Republicans think Trump shares their values and even fewer think Rubio is honest. Democratic oppo teams are probably already scripting ads about Trump's values and Rubio's honesty. If it is Clinton vs. Rubio in the Fall, we are going to have an election where nobody trusts anybody.

Looking at what Republicans see as the top issue we get these results:

Nation's top issue Cruz Trump Rubio Carson Paul
Economy/jobs 18% 24% 39% 9% 4%
Government spending 27% 19% 21% 11% 9%
Immigration 34% 44% 10% 7% 1%
Terrorism 33% 21% 26% 8% 2%

Again we have a fairly flat distribution. The highest score is for people who think immigration is the top issue, and they prefer Trump.

Again we point out that Iowa is not a very representative state. It is very white, Iowa Democrats are more liberal than the country as a whole and the Iowa Republican electorate has more evangelicals than in most other states. It is hard to extrapolate the Iowa results to other states. (V)

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

As the election season grows longer and longer with each cycle, one might expect observers to take the long view and—in the specific case of Iowa—to recognize that the results from one medium-sized, unrepresentative state ultimately reveal very little. But, of course, that is not how it works. "Winning" and "losing"—no matter how slim the margin, or how atypical the circumstances—create a narrative, and the great majority of partisans live in the moment, reveling in the thrill of victory or smarting with the agony of defeat.

Yesterday, we argued that the Iowa results were not much of a rebuke for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, both of whom performed respectably in a state whose fundamentals strongly favored their opposition. Taking the long view, they are both still in fine shape. But don't tell that to their supporters. Many Clinton partisans are exceedingly anxious about the fact that their candidate did not win Iowa convincingly, and that she's doing so poorly among young voters. The latter may be a fair concern, but if Clinton wins the nomination, the smart money says that most young Democrats line up behind her. Nonetheless, Clinton is going to be in for a rough two weeks, as she is going to follow Iowa with a defeat in New Hampshire. She will need a big win in Nevada to take control of the narrative again.

Meanwhile, the Trump supporters are also nervous; to the point that The Daily Beast declares that many are giving up on The Donald. Surely, this is an emotion-driven response and does not represent a fundamental shift in the election dynamics. Trump, for his part, showed some unexpected humility on Tuesday, conceding that skipping the last GOP debate may have cost him (it probably didn't, but a touch of humility after a loss, even a close one, is a good call). The billionaire is likely to be back on top next week, once New Hampshirites go to the polls. And if nothing else, well, he's still got the white nationalists on his side.

The point is that, partisan skittishness notwithstanding, we still know very little that we did not know last week. Those who are skeptical should talk to Presidents Santorum, Huckabee, Buchanan, and Harkin. (Z)

Is Cruz Like Santorum?

Ted Cruz is getting a big boost from his Iowa victory—just as Rick Santorum did in 2012 and Mike Huckabee did in 2008. A boost might well mean Cruz can win a handful of states, mostly in the South and Midwest, just like Santorum. But winning the whole shebang may prove harder, unless the other candidates stumble, which is always possible. To put the Cruz/Santorum victories in perspective, here is the map of 2012 Republican primary winners by county. Orange is Romney country, green is Santorum, purple is Gingrich, black is Perry, and yellow is Ron Paul.

2012 GOP primary map

The county map is important because before March 15, no state awards delegates winner-take-all statewide and even starting March 15, many of the winner-take-all states do it by congressional district, which means a candidate who is strong in a region of a state can pick up quite a few delegates even as he (and yes, Carly, we mean "he") loses statewide. This is especially important for candidates like Cruz who do well in rural areas but could get clobbered in big cities. As The Week helpfully points out There are Republicans in states like California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey. Although there aren't enough of them to carry the state in November, they do get to send delegates—lots of delegates—to the Republican National Convention, and they aren't going to be Cruz delegates. Cruz's best hope is to pile up a massive number of delegates on super Tuesday and then pray that Trump's supporters are too lazy to vote (sorry, Iowans, this means you) and the establishment can't settle on one candidate fast enough. (V)

Bush, Kasich, and Chrisie Are Going to Aim Their Arrows at Rubio

The campaigns of Jeb Bush, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) all agree on something: Their main task in New Hampshire is to derail Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). If Rubio does well in New Hampshire, he will quickly become the establishment's preferred candidate and all the others will be under enormous pressure to drop out. However, if one of the three comes in ahead of Rubio, all bets are off.

All of them are planning the same line of attack: Rubio doesn't love you like we do. Rubio hasn't spent nearly as much time in the Granite State as these three have and they are going to push that for all it is worth. Rubio has made 76 stops in the state, compared to Bush's 106, Christie's 176, and Kasich's 180. New Hampshire has a long history of repudiating Iowa because the state has few evangelicals and a lot of crusty Yankees, and the two groups don't often see eye to eye. While the primary system has frequently been roundly criticized for many valid reasons, one thing working in its favor is that the four states that go first are all rather different. (V)

Devil Is in the Details for Democratic Debates

Broadly speaking, the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have agreed to participate in additional debates beyond the four already scheduled. This includes, at least at the moment, a meeting scheduled for New Hampshire on Thursday. However, there is disagreement on other details of the plan, throwing the additional contests—including Thursday's—into doubt, at least momentarily.

Because it is a "he said, she said" situation, it is not entirely clear what the disagreements are. One issue, apparently, is the exact number of additional debates to be added, with Sanders wanting more and Clinton wanting fewer. An even bigger sticking point appears to be the location of the additional debates. Sanders wants one of them to be held in New York City—home to many young, urban liberals (his bread and butter constituency), and also an opportunity to make a few observations about Wall Street and Clinton's relationship thereto. Clinton wants a debate in Flint, MI, home to a large number of black voters who are angry about drinking toxic water. This will give her a constituency with which she is very popular, plus allow her to advertise her bona fides on environmentalism. One imagines that gun control would also come up early and often, since Michigan has one of the worst murder rates in the country.

Both sides will end up with egg on their face if this does not get worked out, so expect it to go down to the wire, and then to be magically resolved, with Sanders probably getting the NYC debate he wants and Clinton getting the Michigan debate she wants. (Z)

MacFarland Has a Message for Cruz

Lt. Gen Sean MacFarland is currently in command of the coalition forces in Syria and Iraq. By virtue of being an active-duty service member, he is forbidden from becoming actively involved in, or commenting on, the 2016 campaign. What he can do, however, is answer reporters' questions. And when the general was asked about carpet-bombing ISIS, he was unequivocal in rejecting that approach: "Indiscriminate bombing where we don't care if we are killing innocents or combatants is just inconsistent with our values...And you know at the end of the day, it doesn't only matter if you win, it matters how you win."

Neither the reporter who asked the question, nor MacFarland, mentioned anyone by name during this exchange. However, everyone in the room undoubtedly knows that declarations about "carpet bombing" and finding out "if sand glows" and using "overpowering air superiority" are all among Ted Cruz's favorite talking points. With the commander of coalition forces now on the record on this subject, the Senator faces a choice: He can quietly drop these lines from his repertoire, or he can hope that voters trust him—a civilian with zero military service—more than a three-star general whose boots are most definitely on the ground in the Middle East. (Z)

Sanders Has Yet Another Multimillion Dollar Day

Bernie Sanders almost win in Iowa was good enough for his supporters, who thought his running even to the powerful Clinton machine was pretty darn impressive, so they whipped out their credit cards and ponied up $3 million yesterday, his biggest single-day haul during the entire campaign. The donations averaged $27, and few of his donors have hit the $2,700 limit, so they can continue contributing thoughout the campaign season. One thing is sure now, Sanders won't have to stop his campaign for lack of funds. (V)

Email a link to a friend or share:

Back to the top

---The Votemaster
Feb02 Let the Spin Begin
Feb01 Caucus Day Is Upon Us
Feb01 Monday Is Also Judgment Day for Microsoft
Feb01 Sanders Has a Massive Rally in Iowa City
Feb01 Sanders Raised $20 million in January
Feb01 Koch Brothers Network Spent $400 Million in 2015
Feb01 Soros Gives $8 million to Clinton
Feb01 DNC Will Sanction More Debates
Feb01 Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Closer
Jan31 Ann Selzer: It's Clinton and Trump
Jan31 The People Who Don't Love Trump, Hate Trump
Jan31 How about a Trump/Sanders Ticket?
Jan31 Is the Bloom off the Ted Cruz Rose?
Jan31 How Will Christians Vote?
Jan31 Guide to Help You Pick a Candidate
Jan31 Clinton and Sanders Agree to Have More Debates
Jan31 Clinton Turns to Gabby Giffords to Help Her Campaign in Iowa
Jan31 Sanders Lists the Top Ten Corporate Tax Dodgers
Jan31 New York Times Endorses Clinton and Kasich
Jan31 No Loyalty Oath in Virginia
Jan30 Republican Debate Postmortem
Jan30 Clinton Leads in Iowa
Jan30 No Surge of New Voters in Iowa
Jan30 Some of Clinton's Emails Were Highly Classified
Jan30 What Explains the Rise of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz?
Jan30 Some Union Members Like Trump
Jan30 Koch Brothers Having a Retreat This Weekend
Jan30 What a President Can Do without Congress
Jan29 The Song Remains the Same in Iowa
Jan29 It is All about Expectations
Jan29 Rural Iowans Rule
Jan29 The Real Difference between Sanders and Clinton
Jan29 Governor of Guam Endorses Cruz
Jan29 Obama Doesn't Want To Be on the Supreme Court
Jan28 Seven Not Looking Very Lucky for Republicans
Jan28 Clinton Wants a Debate before the New Hampshire Primary
Jan28 Cruz super PAC Offers $1.5 Million to Veterans if Trump Will Debate Him
Jan28 Iowa Isn't about Winners, It Is about Losers
Jan28 Clinton Still Has A Large Lead Nationally
Jan28 Rand Paul Will Face an Openly Gay Opponent
Jan27 Trump Tops 40% for the First Time in a National Poll
Jan27 Trump Likely to Sit Out Thursday's Debate
Jan27 Democrats May Participate in Unsanctioned Debate
Jan27 Is the GOP Really Resigned to Trump as the Nominee?
Jan27 And Justice for Obama?
Jan27 Turnout in Iowa May Break Records
Jan27 Kasich Racking Up New Hampshire Newspaper Endorsements
Jan27 Candidate Hacks into Elections Office in Florida
Jan27 Seda Officially Climbs on O'Malley Bandwagon
Jan26 Trump Victories in Iowa and New Hampshire Could Seal the Deal