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The Lid: Turnout for Sanders? And Other Key Iowa Caucus Questions

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Iowans are eagerly anticipating their role in helping to choose the leader of the free world tonight, and getting their restaurants, bars, and hotels back from the onslaught of media and campaign staffers tomorrow.

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'16 from 30,000

OMG OMG OMG CAUCUS-GOERS ARE CAUCUS-GOING!!!

The big event is finally here. We have plenty of questions to ask about Iowa (one more time, seriously, how do you *actually* pronounce "Keokuk"?), but these are the biggest things we will be watching for tonight.

  1. What's the first-time caucus-goer number on the Democratic side? The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll out over the weekend estimated that first-timers would only comprise about a third of the Democratic turnout. If that's right, it's hard to picture Sanders mirroring an Obama-like win (when that number hit a whopping 57 percent in 2008.)
  2. Does evangelical turnout look like 2012, or does it drop? The same DMR poll predicted that evangelicals will make up about 47 percent of the GOP electorate this time around. That's a 10 point drop from four years ago. Ted Cruz has to hope that evangelicals turn out like they did for the Santorum/Romney battle in 2012; every tick upward for the share of born-again Christians in the electorate *should* get him a little closer to catching Trump. We're also curious to know: Do evangelicals really break for The Donald?
  3. Will there be any evidence of an O'Malley effect? As it's been furiously reported over the last few days, the Clinton team is poised to try to throw support in some precincts to Martin O'Malley to keep him viable if it prevents Sanders from snagging extra delegates. He's never been much of a factor in the race - and with his campaign in major financial trouble - a goose egg on the delegate count after Iowa would mean he'd have little justification to stay in the race after tonight. But does a caucus night math boost give him a (small) shot in the arm?

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

Follow LIVE: You can follow all the latest developments from Iowa on our live blog.

And in today's "Tales from the Trail," NBC's campaign embeds file on the last

NBC's campaign embeds file on what candidates were up to in their final day on the campaign trail ahead of the caucuses.

FOR THE RECORD…

"There's more humility than you would think."

  • Donald Trump, in an interview with ABC News.

TOMORROW'S SKED

Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Donald Trump are all in New Hampshire.

Ted Cruz begins the morning in New Hampshire and then heads to South Carolina.