The 2020 Iowa caucuses

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7:08 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Sanders campaign points to raw vote totals as everyone waits for final results

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Matt Rourke/AP
Matt Rourke/AP

Bernie Sanders is neck-and-neck with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa with a little more than 60% of the Iowa vote (finally) in.

Buttigieg leads, at this point, in the critical state delegate equivalents count, with 26.9% to Sanders’ 25.1%.

Those numbers could well change, especially with parts of the state -- like in Black Hawk County -- where Sanders was banking on a strong showing not yet reporting their totals.

For now, though, the Sanders campaign is publicly focusing on a different count, where he has the lead: the raw vote totals.

In a statement, Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver highlighted those figures.

“We are gratified that in the partial data released so far it’s clear that in the first and second round more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field,” Weaver said, after thanking Iowans.

In the initial count, Sanders has 27,088 to Buttigieg’s 23,666.

After caucus-goers whose candidates didn’t reach the 15% viability threshold were asked to go to their second choice -- or leave or tally themselves as uncommitted -- Sanders remains in front, with a higher total but smaller lead (28,220 to 27,030).

6:53 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Biden donor: "This is disappointing"

From CNN's Fredreka Schouten

John Locher/AP
John Locher/AP

A longtime Democratic fundraiser who supports Vice President Joe Biden called the partial, delayed Iowa results "disappointing."

The results — currently with just 62% of precincts reporting — showed Biden in fourth place

“Yeah, this is disappointing,” the donor said. “You sit there wondering how can the totals be this low for a former vice president?” 

The donor said recent fundraising up through Tuesday morning had been strong. “The question is what will these numbers mean” for donors, the source added. “Will they panic?”

The donor said Biden’s supporters still hope that South Carolina — where African Americans represent about 60% of the Democratic primary electorate – will serve as a firewall for Biden.

“The storyline hasn’t changed. Iowa is Iowa. South Carolina embodies Biden’s supporters.”

Campaign finance reports released last Friday showed Biden started the year with slightly less than $9 million in cash reserves, a weaker cash position than his leading rivals. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had more than twice that amount remaining in his campaign war chest.

6:45 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

It's been almost a day since the caucuses started and we still don't have the full results

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price exits the stage after speaking Tuesday about the technical issues that delayed the caucus results.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price exits the stage after speaking Tuesday about the technical issues that delayed the caucus results. Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images

The Iowa caucuses shut their doors to begin voting at 8 p.m. ET last night. After a long delay, Iowa Democrats released some results at 5 p.m. ET today.

But those first results were for just 62% of the precincts. In the hour and a half since those numbers were released, no new results have come out. So we're still at just 62% reporting.

It's not clear when we could get 100% reporting.

6:37 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Buttigieg: I hope this means something to "people who are different, people who don't know if they belong"


Pete Buttigieg, who currently has a narrow lead in Iowa with 62% of precincts reporting, said he hopes his initial numbers mean something to "people who are different" and "people who don't know if they belong."

If elected, Buttigieg would be the nation's first gay president.

"It's extraordinary," he told CNN when asked about what this moment means.

"It also, I hope, means something to a lot of people wondering if they fit in, people who are different, people who don't know if they belong in their community or in their family. This is a proof that you can believe in yourself and in your country." 

Hear more from Buttigieg:

6:12 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Biden's fundraising email: "Iowa was just the start"

From CNN’s Arlette Saenz


John Locher/AP
John Locher/AP

As the first portion of results from the Iowa caucuses are coming in, Joe Biden sent a fundraising email this evening, saying, “Iowa was just the start. Now help me win the rest of the Democratic primary.”

“We fought hard in Iowa. Now, we’re well-positioned to make our case to the rest of the country. But there's no time to rest. We need to be prepared to take this campaign to New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and beyond. And meanwhile, Trump is attacking me non-stop.”

With 62% of precincts reporting, Biden is in fourth place with 15.6% of the vote. His campaign has been more focused on states like South Carolina.

6:03 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Sanders campaign: "We are gratified" by the results so far

From CNN's Rebecca Buck

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

A senior adviser for Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign said the team is "gratified" by the results so far, which show Sanders leading the popular vote.

Senior adviser Jeff Weaver issued the following statement after the Iowa Democratic Party released partial results from the Iowa caucus:

“We want to thank the people of Iowa. We are gratified that in the partial data released so far it’s clear that in the first and second round more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field."

Remember: While Sanders is initially leading in the popular votes — the number of people who picked Sanders during the first round of caucus and the second round — it doesn't mean he'll win the state.

So far, Pete Buttigieg is leading the state delegate vote. That's the number that will determine who officially wins the caucuses.

7:41 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Buttigieg campaign spent heavily in the last four months — betting it all on Iowa

From CNN's Abby Phillip

Matt Rourke/AP
Matt Rourke/AP

Pete Buttigieg's campaign's burn rate was 135% in the fourth quarter, with the campaign spending $34 million on primarily their organization in the first four states. 

Buttigieg told CNN on Monday that they are making a bet that their performance in these first four states — especially Iowa — would be do or die for his campaign.  

"These early states are absolutely critical. It's one thing to campaign for a year talking about why we believe we're the best campaign to go out there and beat Donald Trump," Buttigieg said. "This is our first chance to begin to prove it. And it all starts with the caucuses." 

The campaign is keenly aware that they need to quiet concerns about electability by finishing strong in Iowa. According to conversations with multiple aides, the objective was not necessarily to finish in first place, but rather to show that they are a viable alternative to both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. With the results coming in a day after the caucuses, his aides feel confident that they beat their own expectations.

But even while campaigning in Iowa, Buttigieg began pivoting to answer the other lingering question: his lack of support among black voters. 

At his final rally of the Iowa campaign, he was joined on stage by a number of black surrogates, including Rep. Anthony Brown, Miss Black America Ryann Richardson, and the only two black mayors of Iowa cities. 

At his election night speech, Buttigieg was introduced by Brown and the head of South Bend's Democratic Party Gladys Muhammed.

"The national media says blacks in South Bend don't support Pete Buttigieg," she said. "Here I am. Black and I'm proud!"

Watch Buttigieg address supporters:

6:03 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Sanders is leading the popular vote, but that doesn't mean he'll win Iowa

Matt Rourke/AP
Matt Rourke/AP

While Pete Buttigieg is the initial leader in Iowa when it comes to state delegates, Bernie Sanders is leading in the popular vote.

This is the first year Iowa Democrats have released the popular vote for both the first and second rounds of the caucuses.

The first round – or the first alignment — is the number of people who first supported a candidate at the start of the caucuses last night. After that first round, viability was determined (typically, a candidates needs 15% of voters to be viable).

During the realignment — or the final round — voters of nonviable candidates could move to vote for viable candidates.

But remember: While the popular vote is interesting, it does not determine who wins Iowa, CNN's Wolf Blitzer explained.

"It is the state delegates who will determine the winner of the Iowa caucuses," he noted.

Here's a look at the popular vote for the first and final rounds with 62% of precincts reporting:

5:48 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020

The key number to winning the Iowa caucuses

Eileen Meslar/Telegraph Herald/AP
Eileen Meslar/Telegraph Herald/AP

This year, the Iowa Democratic Party is releasing three numbers: first preference, final preference and state delegate equivalent results.

The key number is the state delegate equivalents. Whoever gets the most state delegate equivalents wins the Iowa caucuses. This number is calculated based on the final preference totals. It’s the number of state convention delegates that a candidate would eventually win, based on the local results from precinct caucuses. 

The other two numbers reflect the raw vote totals:

  • The first preference shows the number of people supporting candidates in the first round of caucusing.
  • The final preference shows how many people supported each candidate during the second round of caucusing, similar to the popular vote.