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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Final Iowa Results Are In...Kinda
      •  In Spiking Poll, Selzer Made a Wise Decision...and a Mistake
      •  If You're A Presidential Candidate, Don't Believe Your Hype
      •  Sanders, Buttigieg Polling Well in New Hampshire
      •  Warren Gets Unhappy News in Nevada
      •  Democrats Debate Tonight
      •  Trump Commences Victory Lap

Final Iowa Results Are In...Kinda

The last horse and buggy has finally reached Des Moines, and so the Iowa Democratic Party has finally released the results from the state's caucuses, with 100% reporting. Here are the numbers they announced:

Candidate First Vote Pct. Final Vote Pct. SDEs Pct. Delegates
Sanders 43,671 24.8% 45,826 26.6% 562 26.1% 11
Buttigieg 37,557 21.3% 43,195 25.0% 564 26.2% 11
Warren 32,533 18.4% 34,771 20.2% 387 18.0% 5
Biden 26,384 15.0% 23,691 13.7% 341 15.8% 0
Klobuchar 22,469 12.7% 21,181 12.3% 264 12.3% 0
Yang 8,821 5.0% 1,780 1.0% 22 1.0% 0
Steyer 3,083 1.7% 413 0.2% 7 0.3% 0
Bloomberg 217 0.1% 20 0.0% 0 0.0% 0
Gabbard 334 0.2% 17 0.0% 0 0.0% 0
Bennet 164 0.1% 4 0.0% 0 0.0% 0
Patrick 50 0.0% 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 0
Delaney 10 0.0% 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 0

And here are the counties that each candidate won:

The map shows four city names, namely Des Moines, 
Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City, and Sanders won most of the counties that include or are near those cities.
Most of the rest of the map went for Buttigieg, excepting a few scattered counties here and there for Biden or
Klobuchar, one for Warren, and some ties.

In case you don't want to count, that's 58 counties for Pete Buttigieg, 20 for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 8 for Joe Biden, 5 for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), 1 for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and 7 ties.

As the numbers currently stand, there are a few candidates who have something to be happy about. Namely:

  • Pete Buttigieg: Exit polls make clear he drew the broadest support, coming in first or second with every demographic group, whether broken down by gender, age, ethnicity, or level of education. He was strongest in suburban and rural areas, a.k.a. the sort of voters that Democrats are trying to win back into the fold. He improved more between the first vote and the final vote than any other candidate, suggesting he is the most acceptable "second option". And, he tied for most delegates (though that's an estimate) along with a razor-thin lead in State Delegate Equivalents.

  • Bernie Sanders: He collected more ballots than any other candidate in both the first and final rounds (even though he didn't win many switchover votes). He finished tied for most delegates (again, estimated) and effectively tied for the most SDEs. He dominated urban areas. As you may have heard, the Democratic Party is a predominantly urban party.

  • Elizabeth Warren: While she would have liked a better showing, she remains viable, as the gap between 5 and 11 delegates is, in the end, a rounding error. Polling of New Hampshire suggests that she will lag Sanders for a while, but if a "let's rally behind any progressive who is not Bernie" dynamic develops (and it could, as a way of assuaging lefties without aligning the party establishment behind a candidate it clearly does not like), she will be in a position to be that candidate.

There are also many candidates who leave Iowa wounded:

  • Joe Biden: Although the results will ultimately come with an asterisk (more below), this was still a train wreck for the former Veep (and now, quite probably, the former frontrunner). In a state that should have been friendly to him demographically, and that should have allowed him to make his case that he can win back the Midwest, he underperformed his polls, and he won zero delegates (though he may pick a couple up at the next stage of the process). He was also the only candidate in the top four to lose support between the first and final rounds of voting.

  • Amy Klobuchar: We initially judged her result to be "mixed," as she performed at the top of her polling numbers. Now, we're not so sure. Largely, she only performed as well as she did because she was strong in the counties that border Minnesota. But that's not going to apply in virtually any other contest, and there is no evidence, polling or otherwise, that she's going to be able to make a dent in any of the remaining pre-Super Tuesday states. Or in the Super Tuesday states, for that matter.

  • Everyone Else: Nobody else came within a mile of winning...anything. Nobody has ever finished worse than fourth in the Iowa Democratic primaries and gone on to win the nomination. And most of those elections were held before Super Tuesday was frontloaded. There is simply no path forward for Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), et al.

We should note that Mike Bloomberg is an exception to the "everyone else" bit above. Since he's following an unorthodox strategy backed by a highly unorthodox amount of money, and since he didn't even bother to contest Iowa, we cannot quite dismiss him out of hand yet.

And now, we get to the asterisk, which is (mildly) bad news for the "winners," and (mildly) good news for the rest. Thus far, as this whole Iowa fiasco has unfolded, we have resisted the temptation to deploy Will Rogers' famous observation: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." But we have reached the limit of our discipline, and will now point out that if Rogers was still alive, he'd be laughing his rear end off right now. The folks at the New York Times crunched the numbers released by the Iowa Democrats, and discovered that they were, to quote the headline "riddled with errors and inconsistencies." Pretty much any error you can think of, the Times found, among them math errors, incongruities between what was reported by precinct chairs and by the state party, and "first" and "final" vote totals that make clear that the rules were not enforced properly and that delegates who were supposed to be "locked" (because they had supported a candidate who cleared the 15% minimum) were instead allowed to switch candidates in some precincts.

As a result of the Times reporting, DNC Chair Tom Perez called for a recanvass of the results (essentially, another review of all the numbers), although that is unlikely to happen. Even if it did happen, it would not allow some errors to be corrected. For example, if delegates switched candidates when they were not supposed to, it would not always be possible to reverse engineer which candidate should lose support and which candidate should gain.

And so, the Iowa results will presumably be taken with a few grains of salt for the remainder of this election cycle. In fact, after the Times laid out its findings, the Associated Press announced that it would not declare a winner in Iowa. So, all eyes are on New Hampshire, and the DNC is going to hope and pray that the good people of the Granite State can actually run an election properly, and can shut Will Rogers up. (Z)

In Spiking Poll, Selzer Made a Wise Decision...and a Mistake

The key numbers from Ann Selzer's final poll of Iowa have leaked; here they are:

Candidate Projection
Bernie Sanders 22%
Elizabeth Warren 18%
Pete Buttigieg 16%
Joe Biden 13%

The results were not released prior to the caucuses, of course, due to the possibility that some respondents were not given Buttigieg as an option.

Ultimately, Selzer made a very wise decision. As you can see, the Buttigieg number was pretty far off. If the poll had been released, then Buttigieg had overperformed the results, and then the irregularities had come out, it would have been a very bad look. Pollsters are all about their reputations, and Selzer's reputation would have taken a massive blow under those circumstances.

There is much scuttlebutt that the deciding factor in spiking the poll, however, was the low number for Joe Biden, which seemed wonky and out of line with other pollsters' results. In the end, as it turns out, Selzer was actually pretty close to spot on. That is very interesting, since of the final 15 polls of Iowa published before the election, dating back to December, only a couple had him that low, while most had him considerably higher (low- to mid-20s). It is entirely possible that the pollsters' models were off. After all, as we noted many times, caucuses are very hard to poll. On the other hand, it's also possible that Selzer captured a last-minute move away from Biden. If that's the case, the cause might be the impeachment trial and the frequent mentions of Hunter Biden/Burisma, or it might be that when it was time to actually vote people got gun shy about a candidate whose primary argument is "electability," whatever that means. In any case, it is worth watching to see if "Biden underperforms his polling numbers" becomes a trend. (Z)

If You're A Presidential Candidate, Don't Believe Your Hype

As the Iowa results become as official as they will presumably ever be, it was a day of reckoning for some campaigns, as they dealt with "surprisingly" bad outcomes.

At the top of the list, of course, is the Biden campaign. They were apparently shocked by the result, with finger-pointing going on in all directions. A sacrificial lamb was found, in the form of the campaign's Iowa field director Adrienne Bogen, who was unceremoniously fired on Thursday. All sorts of questions are being raised about Biden's already rather tepid fundraising. Perhaps worst of all, the campaign made several presentations to key supporters that grossly misrepresented Biden's strength in Iowa, even though the campaign had evidence that a debacle was on the horizon. Now those supporters are asking themselves: "Does this campaign not know what it's doing, or were they just lying to us?"

Meanwhile, the Andrew Yang campaign was similarly beset by internal strife and finger-pointing this week. Although Yang's share in the first round of voting was at the top of his polling numbers (5% was the highest he recorded in any poll), and was well above his average polling result (3.3%), his campaign had persuaded itself and its supporters that he was well-positioned for a third-place finish. That was utterly unsupported by any evidence, and also ran contrary to basic logic—why would a state that is predominantly older and moderate be interested in Yang's core idea, which is much more tailored to younger and more radical ears? Anyhow, while Team Biden scapegoated one person, Team Yang pink-slipped "dozens" of them on Thursday. The campaign argued this will better position them to be competitive in New Hampshire. One suspects that another round of disappointment, and another round of firings, is nigh.

Undoubtedly, as a political candidate, it's tough to strike a balance between optimism and cold, hard reality, both of which are needed at times. However, both Yang and Biden appear to have veered too far toward the "optimism" end of the spectrum, to the detriment of their respective campaigns. (Z)

Sanders, Buttigieg Polling Well in New Hampshire

As a state that is even smaller than Iowa and even whiter than Iowa, it's a little odd that New Hampshire has claimed for itself (by dint of state law) the #2 spot in the nominating process, and that it has such an outsized influence. This year, given the Iowa disaster (see above), they will be even more important. In particular, everyone is going to be looking for insight into whether the Buttigieg surge and the Biden swoon are for real. Because of the short time between the Hawkeye State's caucus and the Granite State's primary, the pollsters who focus on New Hampshire are cranking out polls at a fast and furious pace, with some houses producing new results daily. Here are the results published Thursday, by Suffolk, Emerson, and Monmouth:

Candidate Suffolk Emerson Monmouth Average
Bernie Sanders 24% 32% 24% 26.7%
Pete Buttigieg 23% 23% 20% 22.0%
Elizabeth Warren 13% 13% 13% 13.0%
Joe Biden 11% 11% 17% 13.0%
Amy Klobuchar 6% 9% 9% 8.0%
Tulsi Gabbard 4% 6% 4% 4.7%
Andrew Yang 3% 2% 4% 3.0%
Tom Steyer 3% 2% 3% 2.7%

We will know for sure next Tuesday, but it certainly looks like the Iowa trends are going to hold, with Bernie Sanders getting a slight bump from being a neighbor, and Amy Klobuchar a dip from not being a neighbor. If so, then the Iowans will be thrilled that they didn't get it all that wrong, but it will really be panic time at Biden HQ. (Z)

Warren Gets Unhappy News in Nevada

No, it's not a poll, although Elizabeth Warren's polling in the Silver State suggests that she won't be taking home many/any delegates despite having invested serious resources there (she's at 11% or so). The unhappy news comes in the form of six women of color who quit their jobs with the Nevada arm of the campaign en masse, saying that their ideas and concerns were ignored by campaign management, and that the work environment was hostile.

Warren, to her credit, took ownership of the situation, apologizing to the six former staffers, and declaring that "I believe these women completely." Still, the timing could not be worse (something the six staffers undoubtedly knew). Polls of New Hampshire (see above) suggest that the Senator is going to record an underwhelming performance, particularly given that she comes from nearby Massachusetts. She could really use a bounce-back in Nevada. That was already looking unlikely, given her sub-15% polling, and anything that makes the sizable Latino population of the state think twice about her candidacy is certainly not going to improve her odds. (Z)

Democrats Debate Tonight

It has been quite the week, from the newest John Bolton revelations, to the disaster in Iowa, to the acquittal of Donald Trump. For those who desire a breather, well, luck is not with you. Consistent with their newfound philosophy of "a debate before every early caucus/primary," the DNC will hold the eighth debate of this cycle tonight, at St. Anselm College, in Goffstown, NH. ABC News, WMUR-TV, and Apple News are hosting; and there will be a five-headed team of moderators: Monica Hernandez, Adam Sexton, Linsey Davis, David Muir, and George Stephanopoulos. The first two work for WMUR; the latter three are from ABC News.

Obviously, only the moderators know what they plan to ask about. They could focus on the old stand-bys, like healthcare, taxes, infrastructure, and so forth. There are plenty of timely subjects they might address, whether the mess in Iowa, the end of the impeachment trial, the SOTU, NAFTA v2.0, or the outbreak of coronavirus. Generally, the moderators try to tailor a few of their questions to the voters of the specific state; if so, recent polls by WMUR (again, the employer of 40% of the moderators) reveal that the thing Granite State voters most want to hear about is...fighting the opioid epidemic. Sometimes, the moderators also try to tailor one or two questions to the specific venue. If so, St. Anselm is a Catholic school, which suggests questions about birth control/abortion policy.

Seven candidates have qualified for the debate, and the dynamics on stage could be very interesting. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, especially Sanders, will have big targets on their backs. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren have both been pretty restrained in previous debates, but they are running out of time, and there's never really been any resolution of the "women can't win the presidency" disagreement. So, the two are likely to send some slings and arrows in their Vermont colleague's direction.

Joe Biden, for his part, has taken a "keep it steady and stay above the fray" approach to the debates, consistent with his status as frontrunner. He's almost certainly not the frontrunner anymore, and indeed, his campaign may be in danger of imploding, so he's presumably going to change up his approach tonight. It would not be a surprise to see him unload on Sanders and/or Buttigieg, and it would also not be a surprise if he made some sort of big announcement. For example, he might promise to publish the names of the people he would consider for the Supreme Court, or he might commit to making Stacey Abrams his running mate.

Bringing up the rear, meanwhile, are Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. After tonight, the DNC will switch to a results-based qualifying system for the debates. Since neither of those two are getting results, they will not make the next cut (nor will Klobuchar, most likely). We'll see what they do with their last hurrahs.

Officially, the debate will be televised on ABC and on "all of its affiliate channels." Since that list includes ESPN, Disney, National Geographic, and Lifetime, we're skeptical that description is entirely correct, but you never know. In any case, you're undoubtedly safe if you tune in to the big network. The festivities begin at 8:00 p.m ET, and are expected to last (linger?) for three hours. (Z)

Trump Commences Victory Lap

Truth be told, we'd rather not even write this item. Donald Trump is a petty and insecure man who never learned how to manage his emotions like an adult, and so lashes out whenever he feels he's been wronged. Even the 52-53 folks in the Senate who just saved his bacon would concede this (at least, if they were speaking off the record). And so, the fact that he got nasty the day after being acquitted is so unsurprising that it barely even rises to the level of "dog bites man," much less "man bites dog." It's more like, "dog is given juicy steak, decides he will eat it." Anyhow, we shall mention it because it made a lot of headlines, but we're sticking the item at the very bottom of the page.

Already on the presidential schedule on Thursday was the annual National Prayer Breakfast, which has historically been nonpartisan. Trump set aside his prepared remarks, and used the occasion to prayerfully rip into his enemies (as he sees them), whom he characterized as "dirty cops, bad people" and also "bad and evil people." This continued later in the day, during an unscheduled press availability. Across the two appearances, Trump insulted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), described Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) as "a vicious horrible person," and offered the same assessment of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): "Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person...I doubt she prays at all." For the record, Pelosi is a devout Catholic who has spoken of her faith many times. The President also asserted that the Democrats, a group that included him until just a few years ago, "want to destroy our country," slurred the leadership of the FBI as "top scum," and concluded that when it comes to the whole Ukraine investigation and trial, "it was all bullshit." There were many other attacks, and many other lies, but you get the idea. Needless to say, nary a Republican said "boo" about any of this, despite a great many of them being in attendance for all or part of the performances.

Circumstantial evidence also suggests that the score-settling has already begun. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was one of the star witnesses against Trump during the House investigation of the Ukraine affair, will reportedly be booted out of the White House and back to the Pentagon. It's possible this is just a coincidence, but the smart money does not favor that interpretation. We shall see how long Gordon Sondland keeps his job. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb06 Senate Acquits Trump
Feb06 Nadler: House Likely to Subpoena Bolton
Feb06 Will Anyone Ever Honor a Congressional Subpoena Again?
Feb06 Iowa Results Are Still Dribbling In
Feb06 Pelosi Dumps on Trump in a Private Meeting after SOTU
Feb06 Sanders Leads in New Hampshire Poll
Feb06 New Hampshire Becomes Even More Crucial Now
Feb06 Biden Still Hasn't Addressed His Son's Job at Burisma
Feb06 Cummings' Widow Loses House Primary
Feb05 The Results Are In...Mostly
Feb05 So, What Happened in Iowa, Exactly?
Feb05 Did the Iowa Results Contain Secret Bad News for the Democrats?
Feb05 Trump Delivers State of the Union
Feb05 Impeachment Acquittal Right on Pace
Feb05 Trump Gets Highest Ever Approval from Gallup
Feb05 Most Farmers Are Sticking with Trump
Feb04 And the Winner of the Iowa Caucuses Is...???
Feb04 Don't Forget, There's Also an Impeachment Trial Going On...
Feb04 State of the Union Address Is Tonight
Feb04 This Probably Won't Make the SOTU...
Feb04 ...Or This, for That Matter
Feb04 Bloomberg Gets in the Gutter with Trump
Feb04 Rush Limbaugh Has Lung Cancer
Feb03 Finally the Voters Get Their Say
Feb03 Should Iowa and New Hampshire Go First?
Feb03 Can the Caucuses Be Hacked?
Feb03 Ann Selzer's Poll Will Not Be Released
Feb03 Poll: All the Leading Democrats Could Beat Trump
Feb03 Biden Wins Endorsement from Union That Backed Sanders in 2016
Feb03 DNC Changes the Admission Requirements for February Debate
Feb03 Vote on Trump's Conviction is Expected Wednesday
Feb03 Ernst Says President Biden Would Be Impeached Immediately
Feb03 Schiff Won't Say Whether He Will Subpoena Bolton
Feb02 Drip, Drip, Drip...
Feb02 Sunday Mailbag
Feb01 Party First (and Second, and Third...)
Feb01 Delaney Is Out
Feb01 The UK Is Out, Too
Feb01 Saturday Q&A
Jan31 The End Appears to Be Nigh
Jan31 Sanders Campaign Prepping List of Executive Orders
Jan31 Today in Metaphors
Jan31 Time to Get Creative
Jan31 ERA, Now?
Jan31 Super Bowl Sunday Will Offer No Respite from Politics
Jan31 Abrams Has Her Senate Candidate
Jan30 Senators Finally Get to Ask Questions
Jan30 John Bolton's World Is Upside Down
Jan30 White House Wants to Block Publication of Bolton's Book
Jan30 Poll: Majority Opposes Use of Executive Privilege to Muzzle Witnesses