On Feb. 3, Iowa Democrats and Republicans took place in caucus across the state. While the Republican caucuses were uneventful with President Donald Trump receiving the majority of delegates, the Democratic side was incredibly chaotic.
Just when the Democratic Party of Iowa had begun to release early results for the caucus, the party released a statement that results would not be out until the day after. This was due to the three different systems used to tally the totals not matching up with each other. This led to a meltdown of epic proportions compared to the 2001 controversy with “hanging chads” in Florida. Results continued to be released as the week went by.
So who “won” the first stop in the Democratic Primary and takes a short-term lead? Pete Buttigieg currently holds the slight majority of Iowa’s state delegate equivalents; how the winner is traditionally determined. This was a surprise as both Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden were projected to win.
Iowa is a huge battle won for the former mayor. Many compared his win to another young candidate, former President Barack Obama. Obama used a late wave of support in Iowa to win the state and to eventually secure the Democratic nomination in 2008. But Buttigieg faces an uphill battle as he is not favored in any of the next three states to vote. He will hope this newfound momentum will push him over the top in future key states.
Despite neither winning, Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren had solid nights. Sanders won the popular vote and came in a close second taking the second most delegates. He will take this momentum into the next state to vote for New Hampshire where he is projected to win big and take the lead. Coming in third, Warren outdid her projections and is still very much in the hunt for the Democratic nomination.
Biden was a definite loser from the night, earning significantly fewer delegates than his Democratic counterparts. He finished in fourth, well below his initial projections. Despite bleak prospects in New Hampshire, Biden still has an ace up his sleeve as he currently has sizable leads in the last two states to vote before Super Tuesday, South Carolina and Nevada. Biden will hope to win big in those states and carry that momentum all the way to the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Senator Amy Klobuchar finished in fifth place and her one delegate was the last one won by any candidate. Candidates including businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer received no delegates and their future prospects of securing the Democratic nomination look increasingly unlikely.
What does this mean for the Democratic Party? When the rubber met the road, Buttigieg’s supporters came out in force to seize victory from Sanders. His moderate liberal policies and speeches took significant wind out of Biden's sails, who many thought would be the moderate Democrat to stand out in Iowa.
Sanders answered the critics that said people wouldn’t turn out for a Democratic Socialist with the support of the majority of Iowa voters. Warren responded to those who said a woman can’t head the ticket with a solid turnout. With around 40% of the caucusers supporting either Warren or Sanders, a strong message was sent that many Democrats want to push the bounds with extremely progressive policies like medicare for all, wealth taxes and eliminating student debt.
But the narrative of a come from behind victory, clearly cements Buttigieg as Iowa’s winner.