The Iowa caucuses used to be viewed as messy but endearing. Now they’re just a mess. Three days after Democrats across the state gathered to vote for, and haggle over, their preferred presidential nominee, the dust still hasn’t fully settled.
Time waits for no one, however – even the Iowa Democratic Party – and the candidates have moved on to New Hampshire, where they will debate on Friday night and stand in the first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday.
With 97% of precincts reporting, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were neck and neck, followed by Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar.
Even without a final resolution in Iowa, some candidates have reason to celebrate, some will be relieved – but all have cause for a bit of concern, if not more.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers that have emerged from the Iowa chaos.
He may end up the biggest winner among the Democrats even if he didn’t, you know, actually win the caucuses. If early polls are any indication, he seems to be getting the biggest post-Iowa bump in New Hampshire – and momentum is really what Iowa is all about.
Pause for a moment to think about what a 38-year-old, openly gay former mayor of the fourth-largest city in Indiana just accomplished. A year ago, few had heard of him – or knew how to pronounce his last name. Now he’s going to finish ahead of a two-term vice-president and several popular senators.
Now unpause. Buttigieg still seems to be getting close to no support from black voters, who form up a sizable contingent in the states that come after New Hampshire (60% in South Carolina, for example). Unless that changes, all the success in Iowa and, perhaps, New Hampshire won’t amount to a proverbial hill of beans when it comes to winning the Democratic nomination.
The Vermont senator narrowly lost in Iowa against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Here he is again, facing yet another razor-close result. It appears he will finish ahead in the state’s popular vote, giving him grounds for claiming at least a partial victory. Beating fellow liberal Elizabeth Warren also bodes well in the states to come.
The Sanders camp should be concerned, however, that the turnout in Iowa ended up being at or below 2016 levels. For a campaign whose argument for being the nominee is that they’ll ride to victory in November by bringing in a wave of new voters, that’s not an encouraging development.
While the Democrats bicker among themselves and seemingly move farther away from determining a nominee, the president stands to the side and smiles, waving a copy of a newspaper with “acquitted” as its headline.
There’s still plenty of time for the Democrats to get their act together, but first impr