Political nerds, rejoice! We here at The Daily Wire have been looking forward to this day for seemingly forever. We have been tracking presidential primary polling and analytical trends. We started a weekly election/impeachment-themed newsletter for our subscribers (sign up here!). We prepared detailed profiles for all the leading candidates in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential primary field.
And now we are finally here. The Iowa caucuses tonight will provide politicos across the country with the first tangible results of this already-chaotic process. We will finally move beyond the realm of mere armchair quarterback punditry and enter the realm of numbers, percentages, and statistics.
Here is what I will personally be watching for tonight.
1. Will Bernie Sanders position himself to win Iowa and New Hampshire back-to-back? The Soviet Union-honeymooning socialist leads by 4% over Joe Biden in the RealClearPolitics statewide polling average, as we enter caucus day. Sanders is now also the firm and unequivocal favorite for next week’s first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, and all eyes will be attuned tonight to see if he can position himself well to open this primary season by wining the first two states in back-to-back fashion. Since the advent of the modern presidential primary process in 1972, no candidate who has won both Iowa and New Hampshire in back-to-back fashion has gone on to lose his/her party’s presidential nomination. If Sanders can pull off the feat, then we can bet on the more “moderate”/Clintonian forces of the Democratic National Committee establishment entering something closely akin to a state of depression.
2. Can Joe Biden pull it out and re-emerge as the field’s clear frontrunner? Ever since the unofficial start of the primary process, and certainly since the first Democratic presidential debate last summer, Biden has been viewed (with the perhaps brief exception of a September/October 2019 surge from Elizabeth Warren) as the frontrunner for his party’s 2020 presidential nomination. It is no longer clear if that is the case — Sanders leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden’s South Carolina “firewall” seems like an increasingly risky wager (harkening us all back to Rudy Giuliani in Florida in 2008), and election betting market PredictIt now features Sanders as an increasingly clear favorite over Biden. Biden could really use a victory tonight to stanch the bleeding, and anything worse than a runner-up finish to Sanders would surely be viewed as a disaster at Biden campaign headquarters.
3. Will Elizabeth Warren resuscitate her ailing campaign? Warren emerged over the latter parts of the summer and early fall as a frontrunner in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and many pundits accordingly pegged her as the de facto favorite to ultimately secure the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Suffice it to say those predictions have not aged well. Warren’s campaign has been in something of a prolonged free fall since October, and she enters caucus night in a disappointing fourth place in the RealClearPolitics statewide polling average. A surprising victory is not out of the realm of possibility, but merely beating Biden or Sanders, at this point, would surely be seen as a moral victory for Warren that would buttress her chances in New Hampshire.
4. Will Pete Buttigieg beat one of the “big three?” Buttigieg has surpassed Warren in the statewide polling average in Iowa, but in many respects, his national momentum is lagging and it seems that his moment has passed. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor is a native Midwesterner, and over-performing tonight in Iowa is something that Buttigieg likely would need to feel even remotely confident about his languishing chances for the nomination.
5. Can Amy Klobuchar crack the top four? Klobuchar, from Iowa’s neighboring state Minnesota, has staked much of her long-shot bid on a strong Iowa finish. She consistently over-performs in televised debate formats and is a favorite of her party’s intellectual chattering class — as perhaps best embodied by her recent co-endorsement from The New York Times’ influential editorial board. If Klobuchar can beat at least Buttigieg or Warren tonight, that will amount to a big victory for her.