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Iowa Results Lagged As Candidates Moved On To New Hampshire

Feb 7, 2020
Originally published on February 7, 2020 8:45 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

The top seven Democratic presidential candidates will debate tonight in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire state primary is on Tuesday. The Iowa caucus, which took place on Monday, was a debacle. The full results are in, but there's been no official winner declared. NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid is covering all of this. Good morning, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: Let's start with Iowa, which I think you could argue is still developing, even though it happened earlier this week. What's the latest?

KHALID: So as of now, Noel, we know that we have a hundred percent of precinct results, so that means that all the results have been officially counted. But what's notable is that the Associated Press is saying it cannot call a winner, they say in part because of the tight margin between former mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but also because of the irregularities in this year's caucus process. So that's where we are.

KING: How are candidates reacting to the fact that there basically is a tie between Buttigieg and Sanders?

KHALID: So we've seen a situation where both Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders have essentially declared victory. One is looking at, you know, the overall delegates - that's Pete Buttigieg. Sanders and Buttigieg are essentially tied in that realm of delegates, but Sanders leads the raw popular vote, and that's what his campaign has been pointing towards at this point.

But, you know, beyond that, we should point out that we've got Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, who finished in third place. That's really not what her campaign, you know, ideally, I should say, where many folks had wanted her to be who were supporting her. She's been pitching herself as a unity candidate who could bring the party back together between this more progressive and moderate wing of the party.

And then we've got the former vice president, Joe Biden, who flatly called what happened in Iowa a gut punch. And, you know, I would say that leading into this race, many people saw him as a front-runner. But for a front-runner to finish in fourth place in Iowa, it was really surprising.

KING: Does Iowa indicate anything about New Hampshire and the primary there on Tuesday?

KHALID: I think that's a really good question. You know, at this point, what it indicates to me is that there certainly is a split in the Democratic Party along progressive and moderate lanes. And that's something that we had anticipated seeing. That's something I hear in my interviews all the time. But many people thought that moderate candidate would have been Joe Biden.

What we saw from Iowa was that a lot of people came out and supported Pete Buttigieg instead. You know, beyond that, I will say that New Hampshire is an interesting state. Bernie Sanders and both Elizabeth Warren are neighbors to New Hampshire. Sanders did very well in 2016 in that state. It's essentially what really launched his campaign. He beat Hillary Clinton there by more than 20 points.

And at the beginning of this cycle, a lot of progressive voters there told me they weren't sure they were going to go with him again. But I recently did some reporting in New Hampshire, and a lot of these progressives in New Hampshire say that they have come back around to him. I recently spoke with one guy - his name is Burt Cohen (ph) - and he told me he felt like any Republican - you know, Donald Trump is going to point out that all the Democrats are socialists. And he feels like Bernie Sanders could withstand that pressure the best.

BURT COHEN: No matter who the nominee is, he is going to viciously call them - him or her - a socialist. And I was thinking, you know, if, when they hear that word, they scatter like roaches when you turn the light on, that's not going to work. Bernie will stand and go on offense.

KHALID: And Burt Cohen is someone who told me that, months ago, he had been considering some other candidates. He thought there were some people in the field who might also endorse some of Bernie's more progressive ideas, but eventually he came home to Bernie.

KING: OK. NPR's Asma Khalid, thanks so much.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.