Tonight Iowans cast the first votes of the 2020 election

By Dave Andrusko

And so it begins (sounds like something out of “Lord of the Rings”). The pre-pre-pre-preliminaries end tonight when Iowa’s famed (and increasingly maligned) caucus system formally starts the process at the end of which Democrats will have themselves a pro-abortion candidate to run against pro-life President Donald Trump.

I was munching on a bagel this morning and I almost choked (because I was laughing so hard) as I read Karen Tumulty’s op-ed in the Washington Post. The following is as it appeared (aka, I am not making this up):

INDIANOLA, Iowa — If there is a single Iowan who is emblematic of how fluid the political environment here feels in the final hours before the Democratic presidential caucuses, it might be 24-year-old Heaven Chamberlain.

Who, you ask, is Heaven Chamberlain?

She’s unemployed, hoping to get a job as a census-taker, and [Sen. Bernie] Sanders has plans that would address her concerns about having to pay for health care and for the $30,000 load of student debt she carries.

The WaPo has online wall-to-wall online stories covering everything from soup to nuts. After I read 10 or so, and rolled over to other sites, what jumped out?

*Dread/panic/desperation. Everybody know—even if they tell themselves otherwise—this is a field of featherweights. Besides the uncontrollable itch that will never go away, that is the primary reason Hillary Clinton and (I kid you not) John Kerry are making noises about getting into the contest.

That is also why former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending millions and millions on advertising, positioning himself as the savior of the party. (Bloomberg switched to become a registered Republican when he ran for Mayor in 2001, and has since reverted back to being a Democrat.)

*The polls, as you would expect, are all over the place. Particularly of late, Sanders is doing very well (the very, very latest from Emerson has him up by 7 point over former Vice President Joe Biden). Sanders and Biden are expected to be the top two finishers (in whichever order).

In addition to the publicity and money rush Sanders would reap were he to win (see below), the biggest takeaway will be the reaction to who finishes 3rd, 4th, and 5th among Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

*However, the way Democrats are reporting tonight’s result promise that there will be more than one “winner.” It is mind-numbingly complicated. According to the New York Times

Instead of the usual one result, the Democratic Party will report three sets of results: a projection of delegate totals (state delegate equivalents, often called S.D.E.s), the raw vote totals at the beginning of the caucuses (the first alignment), and the final totals after nonviable candidates, or those who did not receive 15 percent support at a precinct, have been eliminated and their supporters have chosen another candidate or decided to sit it out (the final alignment).

So what if one candidate wins the first alignment and another wins the most delegates? There is a lot of chatter about this at the bar at the Des Moines Marriott, which serves as the unofficial Iowa headquarters of the national press corps.

It’s going to be wild—and that’s just the fallout from tonight. Keep coming back to NRL News Today and, as we did in 2016, we will keep you up to date.

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