The Iowa Caucuses of 2020 will be memorable for a number of reasons. For one, the application which was meant to deliver the results utterly failed to do its job, leading to a paper count in order to determine the winner. At the time of writing, the race for Iowa was incredibly close between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, with Mayor Pete winning 26.4% of the state delegates, and Bernie close behind with 25.7%.
That would give Buttigieg 10 out of 41 delegates from Iowa, with Bernie getting 8 himself. The candidate that obtains 1,990 delegates will win the Democratic nomination. In the grand scheme of things, the 10 that Pete Buttigieg may have won (at the time of writing, there were still some 3% of the results that had yet to be announced) is only a small fraction of what he would need to win the nomination.
But the fact that has put in such a good performance will certainly turn heads, and lead to other candidates turning their guns on him.
Let’s be clear, Buttigieg was unfancied a year ago, and has made considerable inroads to even be competing with a national political juggernaut like Bernie Sanders is no mean feat in itself. Whether he wins first or second place is irrelevant – he has put considerable pressure on Joe Biden, who is another political centrist with a lot more to lose in the race. Elizabeth Warren has also fared less well than she would have hoped, and will be looking to bounce back in next week’s New Hampshire primary, where she hopes to fare better.
The result in Iowa was a surprise in many ways – many polls had Joe Biden running a close second to Bernie Sanders. But there was a key element at play here: nearly half of those polled were not sure of who they were going to vote for at the time in which they were asked. It would seem that many of these individuals would go on to vote for Pete Buttigieg, which has put some wind in his sails in the run up to the New Hampshire primary.
New Hampshire will be a different kettle of fish, if the polls are anything to go by. Buttigieg is in third place, with around 15% of the vote, with Sanders further afront with 25.6%, and Biden at 17.1%. With their nationwide name recognition, Biden and Sanders can afford a few poor performances, and still hope to bring in some money to keep their campaigns afloat. Buttigieg can ill-afford any major losses before “Super Tuesday” on March 3rd, when a mind-boggling 1,344 delegates will be up for grabs when 15 states vote for their preferred candidates. You can expect that a number of other campaigns, such as that for Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, wind down within the next three or so weeks. The campaigns for Amy Kloubachar and Andrew Yang may not be too far behind, once it becomes apparent that there is no real way to win the nomination.
It is still too early to determine who will end up facing Donald Trump in November. Bernie Sanders is off to a good start, Buttigieg has surprised quite a few of us in Iowa, whilst Biden and Warren disappointed somewhat. By the end of March, we should have a clearer idea of who will be the Democratic nominee. Until then, it is going to be very interesting.