Iowa Caucus 2020 | Minnesota Public Radio News

Iowa Caucus 2020

Coverage of the Iowa Caucuses from a Minnesota perspective.

  • Assessing Enthusiasm And Expectations For Biden

    Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 in North Liberty, Iowa.

    The rap on Joe Biden coming into Iowa was that there really isn’t much energy on the ground for him.

    That’s not exactly the case. A middle school gymnasium in Cedar Rapids was packed on Saturday with a few hundred strong supporters of the former vice president. About a third of the crowd were curious reporters, but the rest were intently listening, some calling out, and focused on one thing — beating President Trump. There’s a worried urgency to the crowd the way there is about the candidate himself.

    For all the affection Biden gets from this crowd, there is a clear disconnect between Biden and younger Democrats. It shows up in polling and in conversations here. Biden isn’t even on Sanders supporters’ list of choices. The mention of Biden’s name makes many of them shudder.

    And those lines will be drawn on caucus night. Warren and Buttigieg also clearly have strong supporters on the ground here, which could mean record-breaking turnout — something Democrats all seem to expect.

    One thing is becoming clear, however — the pressure is really on Sanders. He’s got the wind at his back right now, but he has to win or some of that wind will come out. Biden doesn’t have to. He just needs to do well enough to make it to South Carolina, where he’s the heavy favorite.

  • Steyer Keeps An Eye On Upcoming Primaries

    Campaigning in Davenport on Friday, billionaire businessman and activist Tom Steyer told NPR that he’s focused on where voters take the race beyond Iowa.

    “There was a poll this week - I think two days ago - that had me at an average of 17% in the four early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina,” Steyer told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly on All Things Considered.

    He added: “Whoever is going to be the Democratic candidate is going to have to appeal to a diverse coalition. And I’m sure you know as well that I’m doing really well in Nevada and South Carolina.”

    Pressed on whether his vast personal fortune is giving him an unfair advantage, Steyer responded, “I’m not saying money doesn’t matter, but it by no means is determinative. What really determines in the end is, do you, in fact, have something differential to say, and do people trust and relate to you and feel that your history supports the idea that you’re the person that they can get behind.”

    Hear Steyer’s full interview from All Things Considered.

  • Analysis: Sanders’ Saturday Rally A Show Of Force


    Bernie Sanders’ rally in Cedar Rapids last night was a clear show of force. An estimated 3,000 diehards came out to see the Vermont senator, who has been surging in Iowa polls of late, and it’s pretty clear from everything on the ground here that Sanders is the narrow favorite.

    Crowd size isn’t everything, but in a caucus, energy, enthusiasm and activism matter far more than in a primary. And Sanders has that on his side. His speech last night was almost like a pre-”victory speech” speech. The jubilation, not just from the crowd, but also from the warmup acts of filmmaker Michael Moore to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal to academic Cornel West, it felt like a celebration, like kids before Christmas ready to open their presents.

    Sanders was clear, confident and delivering the kind of bold message that really does appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, a wing that has been smarting during the presidency of Donald Trump.

    “We are taking on the establishment — both the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment!” Sanders stressed.

    Sanders, almost more than any other candidate, channels the values argument not only against this president but also emphasizing what the country should look like.

    If the last few presidential elections have been pendulum swings — Bush to Obama, Obama to Trump — Sanders is hoping it’s swinging his way this time. After all, what is more opposite of Trump than Sanders?

    It’s notable that Sanders and his surrogates are not just making a pie-in-the-sky argument for Utopia; they are also making an electability argument and paying very close attention to polls showing him beating Trump in hypothetical matchups.

    There is a whole debate in the analytical political class about whether Sanders can win in a general election. There are very good arguments on both sides of it, but we will leave that for another post. What is clear here in Iowa is that Sanders is the one to beat in the Democratic caucuses. And at this point it is a must-win for Sanders.

    He has raised the bar and needs Iowa to propel him into New Hampshire and beyond and create a sense of inevitability. That’s why his performance tomorrow night here is so key.

  • Expat Iowans Prepare For Satellite Caucuses In Sunny Climes

    Caucusing requires people to show up in person for several hours on a cold winter night. Facing criticism that the process is exclusionary, Iowa Democrats are trying to find ways to bring more caucusgoers into the mix.

    After a previous effort to allow online and teleconference caucusing was scrapped over security concerns, the state party introduced so-called satellite caucus sites that will enable people who work nights, don’t speak English as a native language, or are living outside of the state to take part.

    In Queen Creek, Ariz., outside of Phoenix, Joan Koenigs is running a remote caucus site that’s expected to be filled with retired Iowans who spend their winters in sunny Arizona.

    “I always felt bad when we missed caucus because we’ve been political all our lives,” Koenigs says. When she found out about this year’s satellite caucuses, she applied to host one at her house, planning to have people gather in bedrooms, the kitchen and patio.

    The response was overwhelming, as more than 100 people said they wanted to attend. So instead of hosting at her home, Koenigs is now going to host the caucus at a nearby movie theater.

    — Jimmy Jenkins (KJZZ) and Kate Payne (IPR)
  • Bloomberg And Trump To Make Their Pitches In Super Bowl Ads

    Michael Bloomberg has no problem spending massive sums of money to get his message out. Since entering the Democratic primary in late November, the billionaire has already spent $300 million on ads, according to the group Advertising Analytics.

    And tonight, Bloomberg will have a huge audience for one of his commercials. The campaign has a 60-second Super Bowl ad that features a Texas mother whose son was fatally shot in 2013.

    According to the campaign, the woman, Calandrian Simpson Kemp, has become an active member of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun violence prevention organization that Bloomberg helped to launch.

    “I know Mike is not afraid of the gun lobby,” Simpson Kemp says in the video. “They’re scared of him — and they should be.”

    For his part, Bloomberg said in a statement: “I chose to devote the entire sixty-second ad to gun safety because it matters to communities across the country and it will be a top priority for me as president.”

    The former New York City mayor isn’t the only presidential candidate with a national Super Bowl ad. President Trump’s re-election campaign will air two 30-second ads, including one called Stronger, Safer, More Prosperous.

    “Just as the Super Bowl crowns the greatest football team, nothing says ‘winning’ like President Donald Trump and his stellar record of accomplishment for all Americans,” Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement.

    Trump’s campaign was quick to note that it reserved the minute of commercial time in December, marking “the first time in history that a presidential campaign had purchased national Super Bowl advertising.”

    According to The New York Times, Trump and Bloomberg each spent $11 million for the 60 seconds.

    It’s clear that Trump has noticed Bloomberg’s commercials blanketing the airwaves. Just after midnight last night, he tweeted that Bloomberg “is going nowhere, just wasting his money.”

    Bloomberg has even run at least one ad criticizing the president that aired only on Fox News.

    Bloomberg is not competing in Iowa, instead focusing on the delegate-heavy states that come on Super Tuesday, March 3. He travels in California, which has 415 delegates up for grabs, tomorrow on Iowa’s Caucus Day.

    Yahoo Sports: Biden Super Bowl ad
  • Actual, On-The-Ground Evidence Of Endorsements Working

    Michael Zamora | NPR

    Every primary season, there’s coverage of which political bigwigs are endorsing whom — interspersed with debate over how much endorsements matter.

    For Jayne Hanson from Iowa City, an endorsement is what finally made up her mind to caucus for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

    “I think probably when Mr. Castro dropped out and endorsed her, solidified it,” she said at a Warren event in Iowa City today, referencing former Housing Secretary (and former presidential candidate) Julián Castro. “But I had been waffling ever since Kamala [Harris] dropped out. She was my original favorite.”

    It’s not that Hanson had been a firm Castro supporter — she had only been considering him — but that he “solidified” her support of Warren.

    The evidence on endorsements may be much messier on a broader scale, but cases like this show the difficult, caucusgoer-by-caucusgoer process of how campaigns win people over.

    What question do you have for our reporters that are following candidates around the state? Tweet #AskMPRnews or send us an email.

    The Democratic senators running for president return from the impeachment trial in Washington to join the rest of the field in Iowa Monday for closing arguments. Caucuses start at 7 p.m.

    On Monday night, stay right here for live results and listen to special coverage.
  • Gonzalez is torn between Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg and expects to make a game-time decision.

  • Gonzalez wore a "Literally Anyone Else 2020" shirt to Klobuchar's final big campaign rally before the Iowa caucus. Klobuchar spoke to an overflow crowd at Mason City's Music Man Square. Brian Bakst | MPR News
    Ian Gonzalez is a 19-year-old college student from Clear Lake preparing to take part in his first caucus.
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