Since the moment former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the White House, he has been seen as a significant contender, leading every month, week after week in both national and state polls.
But now, as reports from the caucuses in the early voting state of Iowa have begun to filter in, it looks as though his luck just might have run out. In fact, he’ll be lucky at this point if he finishes in the top three at all!
If you have never attended a caucus before, the set-up can be a bit different than you might expect. Unlike an election or poll, where voters shuffle through lines to cast their vote, caucuses work more like a team callout, with each candidate getting a respective location in a large room or building. Voters who support a specific candidate gather in their separate places until the event is over and every “vote” has been counted.
The point is to see which candidates are “viable” or have a shot at the nomination within that district. To be viable and move on to the next phase, candidates must receive at least 15 percent.
And for frontrunner Joe Biden, Monday nights turnouts proved to not be in his favor, at least as far as we can tell. David Wasserman of Cook Political Report pointed out the trend of low numbers coming in for Biden and noted that it was unlikely he would make it to the top three.
“Widespread reports of Joe Biden barely/not viable in types of precincts he should be to have any type of chance. Having a hard time seeing him in the top three…long way to go.”
Take a look at a few of these precincts.
In Davenport, “Doesn’t look like @JoeBiden will be viable in this Davenport precinct. He needs 44 votes and only has 27.”
And in Cedar Falls, it was even worse.
One Twitter user posted, “Joe Biden has the support of three people in Cedar Falls, IA.”
Now, usually, these types of numbers could be foreseen somewhat due to the Des Moines Register poll that is typically released right before the caucuses open. However, this year, the survey was not released, at least not in any official capacity.
Democratic candidate and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, made complaints that the poll was flawed and inaccurate, not showing every candidate’s name. And so, the poll was scrapped.
But a few news outlets, such as FiveThirtyEight, got their hands on the unofficial results somehow anyway and posted them. And while it’s not surprising that Sanders is doing well in the state, which he also did in 2016, many are astounded at Biden’s results.
In the past, this poll has accurately predicted the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, and so was much anticipated.
However, neither the poll or the caucuses themselves always correctly predict the eventual nominee. Wasserman says this is mainly due to the fact that “this caucus is totally unrepresentative of larger Dem primary electorate.”
And for candidates like Biden, it makes it look much worse than it actually is. Caucus goers, as Wasserman points out, are typically more progressive, “90%+ white,” and “really young (21% under 35).”
So yeah, of course, Sanders is winning. These are all areas in which Biden has proved not to have the most substantial support.
Still, the contest has been historically accurate about 70 percent of the time since 1976. The last time a Democrat won Iowa but not the nomination was in 1992 with Senator Tom Harkin.
That is if we ever get the results in.
Not only were the results for the Des Moines Register poll a total failure, now even the caucuses can’t seem to get their results. Apparently, the app that the Iowa Democratic Party was using for the events were found to have “inconsistencies,” according to a statement made by the party. Therefore, it will “take time to further report the results.”
It was reported on FOX that “precinct captains have been told to take pictures of their results and send them” on. So yeah, I’d say it might take a while for all the votes to be counted in that mess.
Meanwhile, Biden can hope that the few caucuses that have been reported, such as the ones I mentioned above, are outliers and not at all the norm. Then again, if his support is as solid in South Carolina as they say, it may not matter much.