Iowa caucuses turnout: Entrance poll shows dip in first-timers

This year's level of new participants is well shy of that in 2008, when a whopping 57 percent of Democrats said they had never caucused before.
Image: People take part in a Caucus at Drake University in Des Moines
Voters participate in a caucus at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 3, 2020.Eric Thayer / Reuters

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By Daniel Arkin

Iowa's presidential caucuses were expected to draw record turnout Monday, but early data from the NBC News entrance poll show a big dip in participants attending a Democratic caucus for the first time.

The entrance poll showed just about a third of voters — 35 percent — caucusing this year are first-timers, a lower level than in 2016, when first-timers made up 44 percent of the Hawkeye State's Democratic caucusgoers.

And this year's level of new participants is well shy of that in 2008, when a whopping 57 percent of Democrats said they had never caucused before.

In a statement addressing a delay in results, the Iowa Democratic Party said that early data indicate turnout could eventually match that of 2016.

"What we know right now is that around 25 percent of precincts have reported, and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016," IDP communications director Mandy McClure said.