The Iowa Democratic Party announced the release of 100 percent of the state caucus results Thursday night, showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders neck and neck in their lead over the rest of the Democratic candidates. The results could change as more data is examined, and NBC has not called a winner in the race.
The Iowa Democrats' announcement comes after Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez called on state party officials to recanvass the results of Monday's caucuses amid growing concerns about their accuracy (see NBC News' review of the results).
Caucusgoers gathered at nearly 1,700 sites across Iowa on Monday night to tally support for their preferred candidates only for the count to be thrown into disarray when what Iowa Democrats called "inconsistencies" delayed the reporting of results.
The state has 41 pledged delegates up for grabs, and the high-stakes contest traditionally plays a major role in determining who is a legitimate contender in the race. Candidates in the crowded Democratic field needed to meet a threshold of support (at least 15 percent of attendees at most caucus sites) to become viable, or they saw supporters move on to someone else.
Highlights from the Iowa caucuses
- An NBC News review of the Iowa caucus vote finds the results are rife with potential errors, inconsistencies.
- DNC Chair Perez calls for recanvassing results amid growing concerns about their accuracy.
- Buttigieg, Sanders are neck and neck with nearly all the votes reported.
- Iowa caucus app was rushed and flawed from the beginning, experts say.
- Here's why more than one candidate can declare victory.
- Caucus chaos sparks fresh calls for an end to Iowa's leadoff status.
- Where to find Iowa race results.
Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.
Where to find Iowa race results
Caucus doors close — and the action begins — at 8 p.m. ET.
We'll have live updates as soon as results start coming in, plus maps and county breakdowns, right here.
The view from the Warren camp
DES MOINES, Iowa — For the Warren campaign in Iowa, it's all about high turnout, a ground game built around a wide engagement of voters, and winning on state delegate equivalents, per a senior Warren adviser I spoke to Monday afternoon.
On turnout: The campaign built its ground game around engaging as wide a range of voters as possible, never making assumptions about where they’d find those supporters. The senior Warren aide said they could see turnout as high or higher than the record in 2008, but declined to give specific numbers.
This plays into the closing argument we've been hearing from Warren on unity. As one Warren aide told me over the weekend: Among those they've identified to caucus for Warren and who also caucused in 2016 split evenly between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Pressley: Warren's aspirations are attainableFeb. 2, 202009:03
Warren is trying to bridge the "moderate" and "progressive" lanes that we like to frame things in, but voters aren't necessarily thinking of it that way.
This senior adviser also notes the reputation of the Warren organizers, some of who have been on the ground here since March 2019, will be a big boon. Warren's team sees their people as motivated and energized — with surrogates, like Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., visiting field offices throughout the day Monday to keep supporters engaged, amid the final get-out-the-caucus canvassing push.
And they argue that Warren was able to stay connected to Iowa despite the impeachment that kept her in Washington through tele-town halls, local TV and radio appearance, and national interviews — and that she was able to establish some momentum, if not in polling consistency, with things like The Des Moines Register endorsement and backing from notable Iowans.
Iowa precinct leaders report problems with app for reporting results
At least a dozen precinct leaders across Iowa are having issues downloading or logging into a new smartphone application used to report the caucus night results, potentially delaying the counting of the first round of results.
Chairs of four different counties said they had precinct leaders who experienced issues with the app, from receiving an error that their login wasn’t recognized to missing a cutoff time for downloading it. At least one — Laura Hubka, chair of the Howard County Democrats — said she declined to use the app.
The app is optional to use but was the preferred method for sending in results, according to the Iowa Democrat Party precinct leader manual. Those who can’t use the app will use pen and paper and call a dedicated hotline to report the results.
Mandy McClure, the Iowa Democratic Party communications director, said in a statement, “The IDP is working with any precinct chairs who want to use the optional tabulation application to make sure they are comfortable with it. We've always been aware that many precinct chairs prefer to call in results via a secure hotline, and have systems in place so they can do so."
Brett Niles, chair of the Linn County Democrats, said eight of his 86 temporary caucus chairs weren’t able to log in to the app. He reported hearing of “sporadic” issues in other counties.
“You’ve got volunteers spread out through the entire state. It’s tough to make sure everyone does as they’re supposed to,” Niles said.
Benjamin Pu contributed reporting.
Iowa Democrats look to ease concern about location changes
Iowa Democrats are trying to assuage concerns that around a dozen precinct caucus locations are changing at the last minute.
The party has been tweeting out various location changes for several caucus sites ahead of Monday night’s caucuses, which begin at 8 p.m. ET. These abrupt changes have sparked concerns about caucusgoers who may not be aware of the changes and therefore will show up at the wrong place, along with criticisms online that the changes are happening in an effort to tamp down turnout for certain candidates.
Kevin Geiken, executive director of the Iowa Democrats, said on Twitter that these changes are typical for caucuses.
"Caucus location changes are possible due to unforeseen circumstances like capacity reasons, environmental factors beyond our control, and more," he said. "We will always update you and the campaigns as soon as we know to ensure transparency and accessibility."
There are more than 1,600 precinct sites across Iowa on Monday, as Iowans make the first step toward selecting the presidential nominee.
Klobuchar puts Trump's impeachment trial at center of high-stakes closing pitch
BETTENDORF, Iowa — This isn’t how Sen. Amy Klobuchar thought the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses would go.
Instead of long stretches on the road for the kind of grassroots, folksy campaigning she perfected running for office next door, in her home state of Minnesota, Klobuchar spent the last two weeks in Washington, consumed by President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
In her final, frenzied spin across Iowa over the weekend, the senator offered a simple closing argument: The allegations against Trump — and the furious partisan fights stirred by his impeachment — are exactly why she's running.
“I really see this election and my candidacy as really an extension of that, because what this is, this election, yes, it’s an economic check,” she told voters Saturday in a bike shop that served as overflow for the hundreds of people packed into a brewery next door. “But more than that, it is a decency check.”
Iowa caucuses: Steve Kornacki explains how they work - with LegosFeb. 3, 202004:25
Pressley celebrates birthday in Iowa: 'Y’all know what my wish is'
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., spent her birthday Monday campaigning in Iowa for Elizabeth Warren, as the Massachusetts senator was stuck in Washington for the impeachment trial.
When Pressley stopped into Warren’s Ankeny campaign office to rally volunteers before their last round of door-knocking, she was greeted with a birthday cake and candles and a rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."
Pressley said a great gift for her 46th birthday would be to get Warren elected as the 46th president.
“Y’all know what my wish is,” she said before blowing out the candles.
Caucusing while married
Editor’s note: The author, a writer at "Dateline NBC" with Lester Holt, is a friend of Laurie Sands and David Busiek and will follow what happens to them and the rest of the caucusgoers at Hoover High School in Des Moines for NBC News' live blog. Tune in for more posts as the day progresses.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Like a lot of couples across America this primary season, Laurie Sands and David Busiek are supporting different candidates. But in a caucus state, that means heading out to your local high school gym and very possibly competing against your spouse in real time all evening, trying to persuade friends and neighbors to support your chosen candidate — and not your partner’s.
Sands is supporting former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Busiek is backing Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Sands, a former Des Moines school board member, has caucused every presidential election year since 1979. She says she supports Buttigieg because, “His values are values that unite us as a country. He’s all about inclusivity. When you volunteer for him, you follow ‘10 Rules of the Road’ for how we treat each other and those from other campaigns."
She adds, "He’s 38 but his age doesn’t reflect his experience, wisdom and creativity. Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he wrote Declaration of Independence!”
Busiek, a former news director at the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, was never able to air his political views publicly, but now that he is newly retired, he's attending his first caucus.
He called Klobuchar "bright, articulate and calm," adding that she was "very good" during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, "very much the adult in the room." He added that he likes her "experience, age and emphasis on practical solutions" and that she’s a "Midwesterner.”
Sands says she wishes they were supporting the same candidate and adds that she hopes they don’t wind up going head-to-head for the exact same voters Monday night. “That would be tough.”
“We do so many things in alignment, and this is so important," she said. "So, to me, this is stressful.”
For Busiek? Not so much. “Our candidates are not so far apart," he said. "We’re ultimately working for the same things.”
ANALYSIS: Caucus game theory
By Tuesday morning, it should be obvious whether any of the Democratic campaigns struck deals to partner up — or simply executed a superior strategy — on caucus night.
The permutations of caucus game theory are endless. But here are a few things to think about as you watch tonight, and one big reason to be skeptical that the invisible hands of political operatives are able manipulate the process.
At each of the caucus locations across the state, there’s a first round of candidate selection. Candidates who receive 15 percent support are considered viable and those who don’t are considered not viable. The caucusgoers who sided with nonviable candidates are then allowed to realign, if they choose, in a second round. They can realign to boost the score for an already viable candidate or match up with a group of other caucusgoers to try to make a nonviable candidate viable.
Because it’s a multiround public voting system in which neighbors actively try to persuade each other to join the cluster for one candidate or another, there’s potentially a lot of room for dealmaking.
But it’s all complicated. A campaign that appears to be twisting arms too hard or that conspires with a second campaign to stab a third candidate in the back for its own benefit may see the tactic backfire on caucus night or in later stages of the nomination fight.
So, campaigns have to decide whether to deploy any strategy beyond simply persuading caucusgoers to back their own candidates, determine which other candidates the campaign would want to help or hurt, and judge which adversaries make good targets for potential dealmaking. And the answers to those questions might fluctuate depending on the caucus site and across the state as results from nearly 1,700 locations start to become clear.
That is, all the players are processing a lot of information at once, which means a bad move could be worse than no move at all. It’s a little less complicated if there’s a clear alignment between candidates on ideological grounds — say, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who both represent the progressive wing of the Democratic electorate. But those candidates are also in competition with each other.
Former Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who won the Iowa caucuses in 2004, told NBC News on Sunday that there’s usually a lot of talk but not much actual action.
“There are some conversations, but I think too much is made of the capacity to execute because people in Iowa are very independent,” Kerry said. “They don’t want to be mass-moved.”
Debunked claims about Iowa voter fraud pushed by conservative activists
Allegations of impending voter fraud in Iowa, pushed by conservative activists with debunked evidence, are being shared widely on Twitter ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
The viral claims originated Sunday with a tweet by Tom Fitton, president of the conservative legal group Judicial Watch.
“BIG: Eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than citizens old enough to register,” Fitton posted, alongside a YouTube video of him interviewing a Judicial Watch attorney.
On Twitter, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate called the claim “false” and posted a link to the county-by-county voter registration totals.
“They are updated monthly and available online for everyone to see,” he wrote.
Fitton, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, has previously posted claims that independent fact-checkers have rated false and has claimed without evidence that Democrats want “to steal elections.”
Fitton’s tweet has been retweeted more than 6,000 times and gained almost 9,000 likes. But it was Charlie Kirk’s tweet — which copied Fitton’s text without attribution — that went viral, earning almost 40,000 retweets and more than 56,000 likes. Kirk is the president of the conservative group Turning Point USA.
“Don’t let voter fraud steal the 2020 election,” Kirk added, urging users to retweet for a national Voter ID.
Allegations of voter fraud are one of the most popular topics in voter misinformation campaigns. Last week, Twitter announced a new tool that lets users report tweets with misleading information about how to participate in the election.
“We’re seeing a recent uptick in activity spreading false info about widespread voter fraud,” tweeted David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, a nonprofit dedicated to election security and accessibility. “Again, the data on this is clear and conclusive — voter fraud is extremely rare, accounting for maybe dozens of votes out of hundreds of millions.”
Why tonight's Iowa caucus might have two resultsFeb. 3, 202004:13
Iowa will test whether Steyer's spending strategy works
DES MOINES, Iowa — With voting set to start in the 2020 Democratic presidential contests, billionaire Tom Steyer is about to face a critical test: whether the prodigious spending that has thus far buoyed his candidacy will win over enough voters to propel it into the next phase of the contest.
The 62-year-old former hedge fund manager is also sharpening his message, casting himself as an uncompromising progressive in hopes of capitalizing on the distaste and discomfort a distinct coalition of voters feel toward the political establishment. But Steyer, well behind in most polls both nationally and in early voting states, needs to turn out more than just a handful of voters tired of the political system.
By portraying himself as a leader with experience outside the Beltway, Steyer, in the final sprint through Iowa and other early states, aims to turn out voters who don’t always participate in elections — highlighting his investment in commonly overlooked communities.
Bloomberg: 'No question' that Trump is 'worried about me'
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s “no question” that President Donald Trump fears running against him in a general election, after a feud between the two New Yorkers escalated over the weekend.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News in California, Bloomberg looked past his Democratic rivals who are competing in the Iowa caucuses Monday, insisting his own future in the race won’t be affected by the results of the caucuses. Instead, Bloomberg said, he’s “running against Donald Trump.”
“I think there’s no question that he’s worried about me, because otherwise he wouldn’t respond,” Bloomberg says. “Donald doesn’t want to run against me because he knows I’ve taken him on, and every time, I’ve beaten him. I’m trying to tell the public what I did and what I will do and not get into a silly contest. He can’t run on his record.”
Bloomberg: ‘No question’ that Trump is ‘worried about me’Feb. 3, 202003:25
Buttigieg: 'Everything’s come down to today'
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave volunteers some final words of encouragement Tuesday afternoon.
“Everything’s come down to today,” Buttigieg, who has bet big on Iowa, said to volunteers at a West Des Moines field office as they prepared to knock on doors in the final few hours before the caucuses.
“Know that you are part of an absolute force that is sweeping through the state of Iowa right now,” Buttigieg continued.
Buttigieg thanked his volunteers for their hard work, and took a moment to celebrate that, after "all of the debates, all of the appearances, all of the conversations," caucus day was here.
Bernie Sanders has edge in Google searches ahead of caucuses
More people searched on Google for Bernie Sanders in the Des Moines area in the 30 days leading up to Monday night's caucus than any other candidate, data from the company shows.
Sanders, who has seen a surge in the polls, outpaced Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg in the past months, according to Google Trends. Joe Biden came in fourth.
The data looks at search volume on a relative basis. Des Moines residents showed a particular interest in search for Sanders on Saturday, the latest day for which data is available.
Bloomberg campaigns in California as the rest of the field focuses on Iowa
While the 2020 presidential candidates focus their attention on Monday's Iowa caucuses, former New York City mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg is campaigning in a state with 10 times the number of delegates at stake: California.
Bloomberg, who vowed to skip the early voting states that have traditionally been the starting point in the nominating process, is visiting California for the fourth time encouraging people to participate in the state’s mail-in and early voting periods that start this week.
More people are expected to vote early in California than are expected to participate in the Iowa caucuses Monday. Iowa determines just 1 percent of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Bloomberg’s counterprogramming to the Iowa caucuses highlights his unconventional campaign and his strategy to focus on delegate-rich states that vote later in the primary season.
California votes on Super Tuesday, March 3, one month after Iowa.
Bernie Sanders raised more online from Iowans than rest of Dem field
DES MOINES, Iowa — As the clock ticks closer to Monday night's Iowa caucuses, new federal election filings from the Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue provide the latest glimpse as to each candidates' financial strength in the Hawkeye State.
That new data shows that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., raised more money online from Iowans, $703,000, than his Democratic presidential rivals in all of 2019.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raised the second most with $519,000, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's $418,000, former Vice President Joe Biden's $251,000, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's $185,000 and businessman Andrew Yang's $142,000.
Trump urges Iowa Republicans to 'go out and Caucus today'
Sanders campaign: Election not 'currently rigged against SandersFeb. 3, 202000:57
Conspiracy theories swirl over canceled Iowa poll, pushed by Sanders and Yang supporters
Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Andrew Yang pushed false conspiracy theories on Twitter over the weekend tied to the canceled Des Moines Register poll, effectively commandeering a trending hashtag to convey the idea that their candidates are more successful than the public has been led to believe.
The Des Moines Register poll, a closely watched indicator of the Iowa race, was canceled after at least one interviewer apparently omitted Pete Buttigieg’s name from the randomized list of candidates the surveyor read. The political website Axios reported that the reason for the error was that an interviewer increased the font size of the questionnaire on a computer screen, leaving the bottom choice invisible.
But supporters of Sanders and Yang decided, without evidence, that the reason for the poll’s cancellation had to be that their candidates had high poll numbers, which the newspaper or the polling company wanted to suppress for some reason. (The Des Moines Register poll is actually one of the most respected polls in the country, known for its integrity and accuracy.)
For Iowa Chiefs' fans, caucusing comes after long night of Super Bowl celebration
CLIVE, Iowa — First, your adopted home team wins the Super Bowl. Then, the very next day, your state officially kicks off voting in the 2020 election.
For Kansas City Chiefs-loving Iowa Democrats, Monday morning will bring the highest of highs. But for many of them, it will also come with a nasty hangover; the product of having had a few too many watching their favorite team win a championship the night before.
But, at The Other Place, a dedicated Chiefs bar in Clive, about 15 miles west of Des Moines, Democratic-voting Kansas City Chiefs fans from Iowa, of varying levels of inebriation, vowed Sunday night that they’d caucus the next day, no matter the outcome of the game — and no matter how hungover they might be.
Election Confessions, Iowa edition: What Iowans have to say about the presidential candidates
Since 1971, Iowa’s voters have had the first say in who might be president, giving Iowans what some call an outsize influence on the presidential election.
Some in the state, with its 2.4 million voting-age adults, have confessed what they claim to be their inner thoughts on the cadre of presidential candidates at NBC News’ Election Confessions.
“I cannot vote for any of these!” one wrote. “I wish he would have got into the race earlier,” another wrote about now-departed candidate Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana.
More than 7,000 people from across the U.S. have shared around 60,000 confessions about the candidates, the country and its condition.
Here are some of the more notable confessions from the first-in-the-nation voting state.
Are Dems rallying around singular candidate in Iowa?Feb. 3, 202005:26
Iowa caucuses : 5 things to watch as voters make their choices
DES MOINES, Iowa — We've finally arrived at the end of the beginning of a primary process that has been under way for over a year as Iowa Democrats take the first real vote on Monday night in choosing a candidate to face off against President Donald Trump.
The Democratic slate started as the biggest presidential field in history and the contest has been among its most volatile, making the caucuses and trajectory of the race that will come out of them especially important — and difficult to predict.
Eleven candidates are still in the running, though only seven have actively competed in Iowa.
A poor showing could abruptly end the hopes of not only some long-shots, but one or more of the leading candidates as well, most of whom are counting on an victory in Iowa or a strong showing to help power (and fund) the rest of their campaigns.
Here's what you need to watch Monday night when the caucus doors close at 8 p.m. ET.
What we learned from the Q4 candidate filings
DES MOINES, Iowa — Friday’s new batch of campaign finance reports gave us one more look under the campaigns’ hoods before Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
Some candidates already pushed out their top-line numbers from the fourth fundraising quarter, but the full reports give a comprehensive look at the financial health of these campaigns.
Yang turns to large number of out-of-state supporters in Iowa bid
DAVENPORT, Iowa — Andrew Yang has a lot of ground to make up in his ground game.
In a state with a quirky voting system where organizing is essential, presidential campaigns spend months recruiting and training local precinct captains across the state, who can make-or-break a candidate's chance of success on Monday in the highly personal caucus system.
But as many as half of Yang's precinct captains are not Iowans — an unusually high percentage, according to a Democrat familiar with the campaign's strategy.
That could make it difficult for Yang, who is running his first campaign for office, to hit the high bar he has set for himself in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. Polls show him at roughly sixth place.
Andrew Yang predicts his campaign will overperform in IowaFeb. 3, 202008:09
Warren works to calm rising electability fears pre-Iowa
Elizabeth Warren and her surrogates are working to calm growing fears about her perceived ability to defeat President Donald Trump as she falls behind in surveys to national front-runner Joe Biden and an ascendant Bernie Sanders in the final stretch before the Iowa caucuses.
Warren's dip in national and early-state polls comes as she loses ground gained in the fall on the question of "electability," a major factor for Democratic primary voters.
A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that just 7 percent of Democrats believe Warren has the best chance to defeat Trump, down from 21 percent in October. Sanders was viewed by 19 percent of Democrats as the most electable, up from 7 percent in October. Biden led both with 44 percent, steady since he launched his campaign in April.
Hosting a tele-town hall with Iowans on Tuesday evening, Warren was asked by a supporter what the main point backers should use to encourage others to caucus for her. She quickly evoked electability.
Iowa anxiety: Caucusgoers say the pressure to get it 'right' has never been higher
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Marty Wartick likes Pete Buttigieg, but she also likes the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.
On one hand, she was convinced the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was the best person to win back the Midwest. On the other hand, she worried he could fall flat after Iowa, when voting moves to more diverse states where Buttigieg polls in the single digits.
“I worry that he doesn’t poll as well in other states — and I know some people are looking for reasons to take the caucus away from us,” the retiree from Cedar Falls said at a University of Northern Iowa event for Buttigieg earlier this month.
With just days to go before the caucuses, Iowa voters like Wartick say they are struggling to get Iowa “right.” Many describe feeling anxious and pressured. These voters feel they need to balance electability against Trump with electability in the Democratic primary — qualities that some see at odds with each other.
ANALYSIS: With Iowa on the line, Biden bets on what he doesn't believe
WAUKEE, Iowa — Voters usually want to know what a presidential candidate believes. Joe Biden is defining himself to Iowa caucus-goers by what he doesn't believe.
"I do not believe we're the dark, angry nation that Donald Trump sees in his tweets," the former vice president said as he unveiled his stretch-run pitch in a school gym here Thursday morning.
"I don't believe we're the nation that rips babies from the arms of their mothers and thinks that's OK. I don't believe we're the nation that builds walls and whips up hysteria about an invasion of immigrants that's going to do terrible things to us. I do not believe we're the nation that embraces white supremacists and hatred, as he has done."
Finding himself at an unusual crossroad — the leading contender for the Democratic nomination in national polling but at risk of being hobbled by poor showings here Monday and in New Hampshire on Feb. 11 — Biden chose the day the president arrived for a rally in Des Moines to fully drape his candidacy in the theme that has more subtly animated him since he entered the race in April.
Biden is running as the antidote to Trump — no less and little more.
With live music and booze, Sanders draws massive crowd to party-like Iowa campaign rally
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Fans danced gleefully to music while guzzling beer. Smiles abounded and deafening cheers arose without warning. And, in the restroom, someone was smoking what smelled like marijuana.
Yes, it was a concert. Yes, it was a party.
But it was also a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the critical early voting state of Iowa, where Democrats will hold their first-in-the-nation caucuses.
The massive rally — the Sanders campaign said 3,000 people were in attendance — underscores the groundswell of support, especially from young voters, that Sanders has received during his 2020 presidential run and suggests he’s in prime position for a strong finish in Monday night’s caucuses.
Sen. Sanders leads Iowa poll going into Caucus DayFeb. 3, 202006:38
Iowa still bars ex-felons from voting, frustrating Democratic caucusgoers
DES MOINES, Iowa — With the first nominating contest of the 2020 election a day away, Democratic voters here are voicing frustration that their first-in-the-nation caucus state is the only one that still outright bans former felons from voting without prior approval from the governor.
Under Iowa law, people with felony convictions who have completed their prison sentences cannot vote unless they apply directly to the governor for the right to be restored. Voting rights advocates — and Democratic voters — say it's a major blemish on a state that prides itself on helping the nation pick its presidential candidates.
Biden on the bus: Inside the former vice president's final Iowa pitch
NEWTON, Iowa — Riding through Iowa in Joe Biden’s “Soul of the Nation” bus can be a disorienting experience. The same solid blue exterior that makes his rolling campaign headquarters conspicuous on the road makes it nearly impossible for those inside to see anything outside. One passenger this week described it as similar to being on a dark airplane, shades down, endlessly taxiing but never taking off.
It's a sensation that only deepens the feeling of uncertainty about the campaign’s future. Nine months after Biden launched his third White House bid, his campaign is well aware of how the trajectory of the campaign could change in an instant at the caucuses here Monday night — a strong finish accelerating his path to the Democratic nomination, or a disappointing finish suggesting the beginning of the end of a distinguished career in elected office.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News this week as he rode between stops, Biden himself remained upbeat about his chances here even as he stressed it’s just the first step of what he expects to be a long nomination fight.
Candidates make their closing pitch in IowaFeb. 3, 202000:46
For Warren, 'unity' is more than a talking point
IOWA CITY, Iowa — As she makes her closing pitch to Iowa voters, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has increasingly stressed the need for party unity.
“I've been building a campaign from the beginning that's not a campaign that's narrow or not a campaign that says us and nobody else," Warren said at a rally in Cedar Rapids Saturday. "It's a campaign that says, 'come on in because we are in this fight together. This fight is our fight.'”
Her comments come after a surrogate for Bernie Sanders pointedly joined in with a group of the Vermont Senator's supporters to boo Hillary Clinton Friday night.
But Warren's push is more than just a reactionary move, there's some data behind it as well.
Make or break: Why Iowa matters in the Democratic race for president
By now, the ritual is familiar. Democratic presidential candidates traverse Iowa while their campaigns assemble and unleash grassroots armies to pursue voters one by one. Reporters from all over the country, even the globe, track all of it and wait on every new poll for a sign that someone is surging or stumbling. National television networks prepare for caucus night, when they’ll devote hours of live coverage to the results — results that will bolster some and devastate others.
The outsize clout of the Iowa caucuses, on Feb. 3 this year, has everything to do with a quirk of history that put the state at the head of the Democratic line in the 1972 nominating process. Since then, the caucuses evolved into the national political/media phenomenon we know today. This year is the 11th competitive race for the Democratic presidential nomination since ’72, and Iowa once again stands to play an enormous role in winnowing the field and clarifying who is — and isn’t — a legitimate contender.
The 2020 edition of the caucuses, though, features more uncertainty than usual.
Texas immigration legal services group erects cages around Des Moines
How do the Iowa caucuses work, and why are they so important?Feb. 3, 202002:10
John Kerry overheard discussing possible 2020 bid amid concern of 'Sanders taking down the Democratic Party'
DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Secretary of State John Kerry — one of Joe Biden's highest-profile endorsers — was overheard Sunday on the phone at a Des Moines hotel explaining what he would have to do to enter the presidential race amid "the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole."
Sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery hotel, Kerry was overheard by an NBC News analyst saying "maybe I'm f---ing deluding myself here" and explaining that to run, he'd have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up his ability to make paid speeches. Kerry said donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to "raise a couple of million," adding that such donors "now have the reality of Bernie."
Asked about the call later Sunday, Kerry said he was "absolutely not" contemplating joining the Democratic primary race. He reiterated the sentiment in a tweet later, saying "any report otherwise is f---ing (or categorically) false." Minutes later, he deleted the tweet and reposted it without the expletive.
Iowa Caucus Day: A 2020 Iowa debate timeline and how we got here
The 2020 Democratic presidential race has been off and running for more than a year, although it's been largely overshadowed by the Russia investigation and President Donald Trump's impeachment.
From the presidential announcements and fundraising reports to the debates, conflicts and departures, here's a look at the key events that have helped define and shape the contest heading into the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.
Iowa caucuses begin with no clear front-runnerFeb. 3, 202002:47
How do the Iowa caucuses work?
The Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest of the 2020 election cycle, begin this week. Here's what you need to know:
When are the Iowa caucuses?
Monday, Feb. 3, starting at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. local).
Eligible voters who will be at least 18 by Election Day can participate in the caucuses. To participate in a Democratic or Republican caucus, you must be registered with the appropriate party; same-day registration is available at precinct caucus locations.
Where does it all happen?
There are a total of 1,679 precincts that will meet to caucus. The Democratic Party in Iowa will also hold a number of "satellite" caucuses (60 in state, 24 out of state and three international — in Tbilisi, Georgia; Glasgow, Scotland; and Paris, France) for those who are unable to travel to a caucus location.