Voters today will finally be able to express their formal preferences in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination contest, as the Iowa caucuses kick off at 7pm CST tonight. The Political Saints have been hard at work on putting together their predictions for tonight’s results. Students worked in pairs to predict the final, post-alignment vote share for each candidate reaching at least 15% of the statewide vote share. This year, for the first time, Iowa will release the pre-alignment vote share, the final vote share, and the state delegate equivalents for each candidate. Our students only offer their projections for the final, post-alignment vote share and, as candidates under 15% in a precinct are ineligible for delegates in that precinct, they only project those who we anticipate will receive 15% statewide. Onto the projections!

By Kyle Creech and Emma Willette

Candidate% After Realignment
Vice President Joe Biden23.3%
Senator Elizabeth Warren18.8%
Senator Bernie Sanders17.9%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg16.5%

This February 3, 2020 will begin the first round of voting to determine who will be the Democratic nominee for President and who the American people feel is the best fit to unseat President Donald Trump. The first round of voting takes place in Iowa. In order to be successful in the Iowa caucuses, a candidate must receive at minimum fifteen percent of the vote. If a certain candidate does not meet this threshold their supporters are allowed to realign with a new candidate. Our prediction is that four candidates will meet this threshold. Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. A lot goes into predicting who will win the Iowa caucuses. In states like Iowa, voters favor what is known as retail politics, where voters and candidates get to interact on an intimate level, allowing voters to rank candidates more efficiently.

We predict that Former Vice-President Biden will win Iowa with 23.3% of the vote after realignment. One factor for this is the name recognition awarded to Biden due to his connection with Former President Barack Obama. In 2008, Obama won Iowa’s caucuses by almost ten points. This connection to Obama may play an important role for Biden. Biden also has gained a lot of endorsements in Iowa which shows voters who their current legislators and representatives trust to be President. Now with the impeachment trial happening in the United States Senate, two frontrunners are not able to be campaigning in Iowa due to their role in the proceedings. This allows Biden to campaign more heavily and engage in retail politics to earn the trust of Iowa voters even though he has already had over one-hundred events. Biden has the most name recognition and experience in the White House as Vice President and also has received a great number of endorsements in Iowa. These factors may help Biden out in winning Iowa. 

After Biden, we have Senator Elizabeth Warren, with 18.8% of the vote. Like Biden, Warren has a large number of endorsements in Iowa cueing to voters that she is a serious contender when it comes to this nomination. However, Senator Warren has participated in the least amount in retail politics with only 98 events moving her down in this list. However, this year could be historical for women running for office with the historical run of Secretary Hillary Clinton last cycle. The main reason why Warren is not predicted as winning is due to her participation in the current senate trial against President Trump. 

Admired for his experience, progressiveness, and having only lost to Hillary Clinton by 0.3% in Iowa in 2016, it would appear that Senator Bernie Sanders is set up for success in this year’s Iowa caucus. However, with Senator Sanders stuck in Washington D.C. for the impeachment trials, Hillary Clinton’s criticism of the Senator as a “career politician” who gets nothing done, and tensions concerning his statement that a woman could not win the presidency are going to hurt his performance. Having to represent his campaign through staffers and surrogates prevents him from performing crucial retail politics, which would provide Sanders with the opportunity to do necessary damage control. While Senator Sander’s poll numbers have increased since he suffered a severe drop following the Iowa debate on January 13th when his claims that a female candidate could not win the presidency were discussed. While Senator Sanders has proven to be a strong candidate in the 2020 race, it is likely he will yet again fall behind in Iowa.

While other leading candidates are stuck in D.C., Pete Buttigieg is getting to spend a lot of time in Iowa. This resulting in Buttigieg winning Iowa, however, seems unlikely. We are projecting that Mayor Pete will come in fourth, winning around 17% of the vote. In early December prospects were high with a projected 24% of the vote going to the former South Bend mayor. This support dwindled, however, and his campaign has yet to reach that level of support in Iowa since. The Iowa caucus has only had three of its winners become President, but over half have claimed their party’s nomination. This record grants the state the opportunity to set precedent for the caucuses and primaries to follow. With less than a week until the Iowa caucus, the litmus test of America’s electorate will soon be revealed showing us our likely Democratic nominee, and then the next challenge arises; defeating President Trump.

By Chrissy DeMarco and Matt Powers

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Bernie Sanders28%
Senator Elizabeth Warren25%
Vice President Joe Biden23%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg17%

With only 4 days left until Iowans cast the first votes in the country, the 2020 Democratic Primary is finally starting to begin. With candidates required to gain 15% of the votes to be awarded delegates, it is guaranteed that all 12 people still in the race will not cross that 

threshold. Many campaigns are hoping for an upset, to propel their candidate polling in 5th place at 8% to 3rd place at 25%, but that is unlikely to happen, no matter how much money they are willing to spend. Polling conducted in Iowa has shown this race to be a four way tie since September 2019, with the top four rotating between Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg. 

In recent weeks, Sanders has shown strength among Iowa voters, pushing him into the lead in many polls. The most recent NYT/Siena poll puts him at 25%, seven points above the next candidate. This poll is not an anomaly, as most polls conducted since January 1st have him above 20%. The Senator’s support comes primarily from young adults between the ages of 18-29, which is a key demographic for him, and one all Democrats are trying to mobilize. This recent surge in the polls can be attributed to the organization the Sanders’ campaign has set up in Iowa, which includes 21 field offices. According to most recent polling, Sanders is best positioned to be victorious in Iowa.

Since her surge in the fall, Warren has fallen a considerable amount in the polls. Despite the most recent Iowa poll from NYT/Siena having her at only 15%, her candidacy is still receiving widespread support. Since November, the Senator has been the second choice of many voters, with that number reaching 25% in the NYT/Siena poll. Being second choice in Iowa is a good place to be, considering not every candidate will reach the necessary 15% in every precinct. Similarly to the Sanders’ campaign, Warren has built an immense organization in Iowa, with 150 field organizers working to elect her. Coupled with the recent endorsement from the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in Iowa, the campaign is hoping to see the same bump that previous candidates have seen when endorsed by the Register

Since he entered the race in April, Biden has been seen as the front-runner in Iowa. Though he still stands a chance to win the nomination, his polling numbers have fallen recently, with the NYT/Siena poll having him in 3rd place at 17%. Like Warren, Biden has recently received an endorsement from an Iowa newspaper, the Sioux City Journal, giving him the possibility of a slight bump in support. Unlike the Warren and Sanders campaigns, the Biden campaign is not allocating as many resources to Iowa, which is potentially cause for some of his slip in the polls. The Biden campaign is spending their last week making an argument that the Former Vice President is the best person to compete against Donald Trump, and will be the person to reunify the country after the election. As many Iowans are not driven exclusively by ideology, the idea of going back to normal is appealing to them, and that desire is pushing them toward the Biden campaign. 

With February 3rd quickly approaching, Buttigieg is making his final rounds, attempting to secure a top spot among Democrats in Iowa. According to FiveThirtyEight’s endorsement tracker, he is currently lacking in the endorsements category as he is tied with Michael Bloomberg for the 5th most endorsements. He carries 36 endorsements into the Iowa caucuses, which is 12 behind the next candidate, Amy Klobuchar. Not only is Buttigieg lacking in quantity, he also lacks in quality, with not a single endorsement from a member of the U.S. Senate, or the Iowa legislature. However, according to the NYT, because Buttigieg is the narrator in seven of the eight advertisements airing throughout the state, and because of his success in drawing the largest town hall audiences among Democrats in 16 of Iowa’s towns, he will likely attract more undecided voters, particularly in rural areas. Finally, according to RealClearPolitics, Buttigieg’s average polling percentage in Iowa is 16.8%, which puts him in third place. After taking the aforementioned factors into account, it is likely that Buttigieg will finish among the top four candidates, which should propel him over the 15% threshold needed.

Once Iowa voters make their decision, the winner faces an uphill battle to become the nominee.

By Sami DeRagon and Christina Noeldechen

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Bernie Sanders21.2%
Vice President Joe Biden20.6%
Senator Elizabeth Warren20.5%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg20.3%

All Presidential candidates know that if they want to have any shot at winning a major party nomination for President of the United States, they have to convince the between 200,000 and 250,000 Iowa Caucus electorate that they are the best fit for President. Iowa is so unique because candidates don’t only have to focus on people living in the cities, but also they have to focus on voters in all areas of the state to try to convince the voters that the candidates are the best choice for them and the nation. 

This ability to appeal to people from all walks of life is why Bernie Sanders is going to win the Iowa Caucus for the Democratic Party. Senator Sanders appeals to all sorts of people, from people who are very far left leaning, to people who want someone that is just going to be able to shake things up. Based on polling data and an understanding of the caucus electorate, our first round of voting predicts Bernie Sanders will receive 20 percent of the vote and after realignment that total will reach 21.2 percent. 

Despite recent rekindling of tensions with 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and accusations of claims that a woman couldn’t win the Presidency from long-time friend and Progressive ally Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders is doing extremely well in recent polling. He’s hitting an upward swing at just the right time to make an extremely strong showing in Iowa and show the country that he’s really in this race, despite his loss in 2016. 

Joe Biden will place second in the Iowa Caucus. The biggest advantage Biden has in this race is his name recognition due to his former position as Barack Obama’s Vice President. Because most of the electorate know his name, this will help him tremendously among people who don’t spend as much time getting to know the candidates which, although is rare in Iowa, still happens. Biden will bring in an initial 19% of the vote and then finish the day off with a total of 20.6 percent of the vote, gathering support from people who backed Bloomberg and Klobuchar in the first round of voting (Yikes; Amy won’t hit above 12% in the first round, despite recent polls from Emerson College). 

The next two ranked candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, have been neck and neck in recent polling and are continuing to stay right in step with one another in polls of likely caucus goers. Warren will end up being the third place finisher, largely aided by her recent endorsement by the Des Moines Register. While Pete Buttigieg will finish the night off with 20.3 percent of the vote, just behind Warren who will get 20.5 percent of the vote total. Buttigieg needs to have a strong showing in Iowa, as he lacks support in South Carolina and Nevada, two of the more racially diverse states in the early contests. 

None of the other eight candidates in the race on the Democratic side will meet the 15 percent viability threshold to end up with delegates. Amy Klobuchar will come close, but ultimately her supporters will split between Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden, Biden and Buttigieg due to Amy’s following being primarily moderate voters. Senator Warren will get the Amy supporters who want a woman or someone who can really win. Andrew Yang should get about 4 percent of the vote in the first round of voting in Iowa, but his support will ultimately to go Warren and Sanders because of their emphasis on making a change in the way we do things in our federal government.

Despite all these predictions, the Iowa Caucus can still be won by anyone in the top four. More polling is coming out every day and February 3rd is sure to be an exciting day to officially kick off the 2020 Presidential Election.

By Lindsay Nugent and Nicholas Discala

Candidate% After Realignment
Vice President Joe Biden25.1%
Senator Bernie Sanders23.3%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg19.2%
Senator Elizabeth Warren17.9%

Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee: the most recent winners of the Republican Iowa caucus. None of those three went on to secure their party’s nomination. However, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Kerry all walked triumphantly onto the Democratic National Convention’s stage the summer after winning their party’s Iowa caucus. This puts the pressure on Democratic Presidential candidates to win the state, even more so than their Republican counterparts.

Our prediction has former Vice President Joe Biden winning the Iowa caucus with approximately 25.5% of the vote. Following closely behind is Senator Bernie Sanders with 23.3%, while former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren lag behind with 19.2% and 17.9% respectively. These numbers represent what we feel will be the final tally, post-realignment. Democratic Party rules require that in order to receive delegates, candidates must be considered “viable”, meaning they must obtain at least 15% of the vote at a caucus site. If a candidate does not receive 15% of the vote, then that candidate’s supporters are free to caucus for another candidate. However, once a voter chooses a candidate that receives over 15% of their site’s votes, they must remain with that candidate.

Biden’s strong moderate credentials as well his high name recognition will help him secure a win on February 3rd. Another key factor to a potential Biden victory is that many voters who support candidates polling below the viability threshold see him as their second choice candidate. Senator Amy Klobuchar, for example, who is polling just below the 15% viability mark needed to receive delegates, also has relied on her moderate bonafides and persona to appeal to Iowa voters. This similarity to Biden has resulted in over 55% of Klobuchar supporters stating that their preferred second choice, if she fails to attain viability, is the former Vice President. We believe that Biden will greatly benefit from this, and this is why we have placed him in first. 

Sanders, who came tantalizing close to winning the Iowa Caucuses in 2016, will come in a strong second next Monday. His support among young, liberal voters, coupled with his dedicated on the ground operations, will see him to a safe and strong showing, setting him up for a strong performance in New Hampshire. Sanders has enjoyed a recent surge in momentum nationally, as well as in Iowa, leading some moderate and establishment Democrats to fear a highly progressive nominee. Iowa voters, however, have recently warmed to Sanders, with some polls even placing him in the lead.   

Furthermore, Buttigieg, who was once favored to win the caucus, will place third. Buttigieg recently has seen a downturn in popularity due to concerns over electability. His low poll numbers among African-American and minority voters has led some to question his chances of winning the White House come the fall. These poll numbers worry Iowans who believe that a Democrat can not win the general election without significant minority support. Although, Iowa is an overwhelmingly white state, many Iowans use a electabily as a gauge to decide which candidates are worthy of their support. Critics of Buttigieg have mockingly labeled the former mayor as “Mayo Pete” due to his almost exclusively white base. However, like Biden, some supporters of lower tier candidates have expressed interest in supporting Buttigieg if their original candidate fails to reach the viability mark, which could bode well for the Mayor.             

Meanwhile, something that could potentially harm Warren’s chances at receiving the 15% of votes her campaign needs is her platform’s similarity to Sanders’ policies. However, we predict that she will receive enough votes, though she will be cutting it close. Her poll numbers, both in Iowa and nationally, have fluctuated over the past few months, and her current 13.5% support in Iowa is certainly down from her peak in September of 23% of Democrats in the state supporting her. We believe that she will gain some votes from Amy Klobuchar supporters, and will ultimately finish fourth.

The Iowa caucus has always been a nerve-wracking day for all Presidential candidates. However, we believe that Biden and Sanders will certainly make the viability threshold, and that Buttigieg and Warren likely will, too. The other candidates will likely begin dropping out shortly after failing to receive delegates from this state, cementing Iowa’s importance in the national race.

By Zachary Coderre and McKenna Donegan

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Bernie Sanders28%
Vice President Joe Biden27%
Senator Elizabeth Warren18%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg17%

In every Iowa Democratic caucus since 2000 the winner has gone on to be the party’s general election nominee. Since 1972 seven in ten Democratic caucus winners have won the nomination. With less than a week until the Iowa caucuses, national polls have updated their predictions of who that winner will be. A New York Times Upshot\Siena College poll conducted January 20-23 has Bernie Sanders as the projected frontrunner in Iowa. A FiveThirtyEight Iowa forecast has Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden essentially tied. Using these polls as our baseline, we predict that Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg will be the only candidates to clear the 15% vote threshold, with Bernie Sanders coming in first with 28% of the vote. 

The decision to choose Bernie Sanders as the projected winner of Iowa instead of Joe Biden came down to voters who were most likely to attend the caucus. Democrats who say they will caucus back Sanders, and those who say won’t attend a caucus back Biden by a six point margin. Additionally, younger voters are more likely than older voters to participate in a caucus. A NYT/Siena poll found that 53% of registered Democrats from ages 18-29 said they were “almost certain” or “very likely” to caucus, compared with 35 percent over age 65. This works in Sanders favor because he is overwhelmingly backed by younger voters. Working against Sanders is the fact that Biden may benefit from more second choice voters joining him if Amy Klobachar fails to meet the 15% threshold. 

Perhaps our most surprising prediction is that Senator Warren will finish third, ahead of Mayor Pete. While the recent NYT/Siena poll shows Buttigeg with a 3% lead over Warren, it should be noted that this is within the poll’s margin of error of 4.8%. Additionally, because this poll was conducted from January 20th through January 23rd, it does not account for Warren’s January 25th endorsement by the Des Moines Register. Historically, the recipient of the Des Moines Register endorsement has seen on average a 4 point bump in the polls. Candidates who are in a position similar to Warren’s ( polling below 20%) have seen an 11 point bump on average. Even assuming the more conservative figure of 4% polling increase, there is reason to believe that this endorsement can elevate Warren ahead of Buttigieg. As undecided caucusgoers make their decisions this key endorsement, and that of the New York Times, may help them land in Warren’s camp.

It is important to remember that this year’s Iowa caucuses are unusual in the number of candidates who could viably win. That, combined with the already notoriously unpredictable nature of the Iowa caucuses, makes any prediction of the outcome extremely tenuous.  Our prediction has the pairs of Sanders and Biden and Warren and Buttigieg within 1% of each other. While we have selected the outcome that we believe to be most likely, there are many alternative outcomes that would not be surprising. Anyone other than Sanders or Biden winning would likely be considered an upset, but is not at all out of the realm of possibility. As of right now, Bernie Sanders is in a good position to win the first in the nation contest. He has been gaining steadily in the polls recently. With that favorable position comes additional attacks and pressure to succeed. If Bernie can stick the landing, he will be in great shape for the New Hampshire Primary, but if he doesn’t come in first it might hurt his case. We will find out next week if this is a genuine boom for Bernie or just a bubble waiting to pop.

By Rachel Clark and Sam Hearn

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Bernie Sanders31%
Vice President Joe Biden27%
Senator Elizabeth Warren18%

We predict Sanders as the winner overall in Iowa because he has established that his ground game is a step above the best. Over the weekend, he surged 9 points in polling to knock Biden out of the frontrunner spot. There is predicted to be an unusually high turnout, this usually favors candidates like Sanders, who turns out the typical non-voter who tends to shy away from the political process. Sanders also recently secured an endorsement from Joe Rogan, this surprising endorsement could lead to Sanders pulling voters that typically vote Republican. This endorsement has the possibility to work in his favor, even though Democrats called for Sanders to renounce this endorsement.

Biden is poised to take second primarily because of the current consensus that he is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in the general. With recent polling, we know that this is a pressing matter for voters. According to the same poll, 11% of voters who are not behind one of the major candidates, we fell they will likely support Biden because he’s projected to beat Trump. When asked who they would vote for if Sanders weren’t in the race, Biden was the most popular choice because Iowan Democrats are looking for a moderate who can win the general. We don’t believe that Biden could win it all in Iowa simply because his polling numbers are lackluster. Biden has essentially been coasting on his name recognition as the former Vice President, without a focus on grassroots effort its no wonder why his polling and favorability have plateaued.

If any candidate were to cause an upset in Iowa, a powerhouse like Warren could. With a strong grassroots organization, and key endorsements from the New York Times and Des Moines Register, she has become a strong contender for the nomination. Warren has striking similarities to Sanders which much less name recognition if she was a more nationally recognized name, we argue that she would be beating both Biden and Sanders in Iowa. When we look at Buttigieg supporters, their second choice is primarily Warren. Buttigieg is barely passing the 15% threshold in polling leading up to the caucus, in the event that he doesn’t make the mark, we believe that most of his supporters will swing to Warren and thus pushing her to a win. However, her polling numbers are taking a hit, she suffered a drop of 7 points.

Buttigieg was the fire that burned out too quickly. He surged in polls with his initial announcement but has since been on a steady decline since early December. In a desperate attempt to fam the dying flame of his candidacy, he has been making a number of appearances on Fox News to plead his case to the public. Is Buttigieg wasting his time or is it an unanticipated strategy? We argue that appearing on Fox is a waste of his campaign resources because the viewer base of Fox Network is conservative voters and the Iowa Caucus is a closed caucus, meaning that only registered Democrats are caucusing. Democrats aren’t known for watching Fox News, however, in Iowa, you can change your registration the day of so this may pull some conservative voters to Buttigieg’s corner of the church basement.

Klobuchar has begun to rise, but is it too late? The impeachment proceedings are hurting her the most because she is not able to be out on the campaign trail as much as Biden or Buttigieg and doesn’t have the name recognition to rely on as Sanders or Warren do. That being said, she did get half of the co-endorsement from the New York Times. She is virtually tied among the top tier candidates for the lowest unfavorability, whereas Buttigieg has a higher unfavorability, which may end up benefiting her on caucus day. Without being the second choice of voters behind any of the major candidates, its unlikely that she stands a chance in Iowa.

By Kiley Lenahan and Tim Zehr

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Bernie Sanders28%
Vice President Joe Biden22%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg18%
Senator Elizabeth Warren17%

Historically, the Iowa Caucus has served as a launchpad for candidates to gain traction during the presidential primaries. Starting the process in this small state serves as a great equalizer for candidates of all popularity and financial status to be brought to the attention of the American people. This election cycle, we predict that Iowa will whittle down the pool of Democratic candidates to just four; Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, and Warren. 

Bernie Sanders’s popularity among voters in Iowa is surprising, as his far left-leaning views are inconsistent with how Iowa has voted in the past. However, this trend of leaning towards a moderate was broken during the 2016 election when Donald Trump won the state in the general election with 51.1% of the vote. 

The people of Iowa may have decided that they’re looking for a drastic change within our government and are tired of moderates maintaining the status quo. Sanders also has an advantage over the other candidates due to the fact that this is his second election cycle campaigning in Iowa so people are familiar with him and his policies. 

A likely scenario is that Sanders walks away with 28% of the vote and wins Iowa which would give him momentum going into New Hampshire.

Joe Biden has been the litmus test among Democratic voters since the announcement of his candidacy, his emphasis on the Obama years and dependency on being the face of the “moderate” faction of the Democratic party have made him the embodiment of the party’s splintering. 

The Biden strategy jumped out to a great start but showed flaws that would hurt even more in Iowa. 

First, Biden exceeds with black voters which, shockingly, is not a strong electorate in Iowa. Secondly, Biden has become notorious on the campaign trail for slipping over his words or “gaffes.”

In a political environment that prioritizes beating Trump over any policy position, the moderate vote will likely be split relatively evenly between Biden and a well-spoken, young, Rhodes Scholar mayor with a funny name.

Speaking of which, Mayor Pete is poised to finish in the middle of the top-tier contenders after his meteoric rise to the top of Iowa polls ran out of fuel just before the finish line. The Biden-Buttigieg brawl for the center-left has been an interesting bout, even if it leaves no winners. 

The two moderates went after the same pool of voters from wildly different angles. Pete contrasts the established, traditional Washington politician Biden with the ability to be personable. Perhaps the best argument for Iowa maintaining its position as the first state to cast its vote for the Democratic primary is vetting candidates in personal settings; this is where Pete delivers as opposed to Biden

What would prove to be the biggest blow to Pete’s campaign would be the lack of black support nationwide, registering only 2% as Iowa prepares to cast its vote.

Elizabeth Warren has lost a lot of support in Iowa over the last two months which shows that she will probably finish last among candidates reaching a viability score of 15%.

She will remain as one of the four front runners but most likely will not gain any momentum from the Iowa Caucus and it may even hurt her when entering New Hampshire. However, recent polls have shown Warren as a popular second choice candidate among many voters. This won’t help her to secure a number one spot in Iowa, but she definitely could gain supporters from candidates that drop out after the caucus.

Elizabeth Warren’s slide in the polls can be attributed to electability. She is not as progressive as Sanders and is much farther left than Biden, which puts her in a situation where leftists prefer Sanders but moderates prefer Biden, creating her second choice status. This second choice status won’t carry Warren far enough and it is likely that Warren will finish with 17% of the vote, just barely reaching viability.

The Iowa polls as a whole have been a race where each of the top 4 contenders for the nomination held as the favorite for a considerable amount of time. But in the end, due to a failure to unify the moderate faction or the loss of progressive Warren support in the home stretch, Bernie looks to be the one to hold on to support when it mattered most.

By Kylie Gilbride and Cristian Spariosu

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Bernie Sanders26%
Vice President Joe Biden24%
Senator Elizabeth Warren19%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg16%

“Crazy Bernie” doesn’t sound so crazy anymore, at least according to the people of Iowa. The Vermont Senator has taken Iowa by surprise by surging to the top, ahead of the state’s February 3 caucus, currently beating former Vice President Joe Biden.

Senator Sanders can credit his sudden popularity among Iowans to prominent surrogates, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC), D-NY, rallying and entertaining supporters while he’s in D.C. for President Trump’s impeachment trial. AOC has been successful in drawing in exceptionally young crowds, who could very well be first-time voters, that admit that they would love to see Bernie himself, but also felt “celebrities” like her are just as effective. With endorsements and surrogates such as AOC, who are known to excel in electrifying and empowering crowds of supporters in the main candidate’s absence, we predict that Senator Sanders will reign victorious in the state of Iowa at 26% of the vote. Surrogates like AOC may even hold more engaging rallies than Bernie himself, especially since she is 30 years young and can make relatable connections to young voters through Sanders’ policies and ideas.

Next in line is former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden—who we predict to get 24% in the polls—might fall short to Sanders for the top spot in the Iowa caucus. Although Biden has an immense amount of respected name recognition nationwide, the majority of people in Iowa are starting to “Feel The Bern.” A 24% finish in the polls is still very impressive and one thing for sure is that moderate Democrats voters who admired Obama, and a decent number of independents are likely to cast their vote towards the former Vice President. Whether you are sleeping on Joe, or think he will awaken, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for him in this race.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is still trying to fight her way to victory, but likely won’t find herself in Iowa’s top two. Warren’s gender alone is something that already sets her apart from the rest of the front-runners in the race, which is simply enough for some voters to promise her their vote and loyalty. Many of Warren’s potential supporters are typically struggling to choose between her and competitor, Senator Sanders. Side-by-side, it cannot be denied that Sanders consistently abides by staunch liberal views compared to Warren, which is where she wavers and causes some concern. Unfortunately for Warren, many Americans see Bernie as the stronger choice and safer bet when comparing the two senators. We predict that Senator Warren will earn about 19% of the vote in Iowa’s caucus; in the battle of the two most progressive Democratic candidates, Bernie is dominant almost every time.

Lastly, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, will claw his way to 16% in the polls, barely earning him delegates. Mayor Pete has a strong ground game in Iowa which gives him a fair amount of personal name recognition with Iowa voters. Buttigieg, who has served in the armed forces, has an advantage when it comes to veteran support. Being openly gay will furthermore boost Buttigieg’s support among the LGBTQ community, although some members of the community do not think that Buttigieg’s queer identity is a sufficient enough reason to vote for him. This combined with many labeling Pete as a very bland and cringy candidate, pushes him to the fourth place spot in the polls.

Although our predictions have yet to come into fruition, we stand by our hypothetical poll percentages for each of the top four Democratic presidential candidates. On Monday, we shall see how accurate our guesses are!

By Nick Desautels and Grace Varcadipane

Candidate% After Realignment
Senator Amy Klobuchar18%
Senator Bernie Sanders16%
Vice President Joe Biden15%

For those who live in Iowa, the state caucus is the start of something huge. To them, it is their chance to set the stage in the insanity that has become the presidential election. It is a chance to show their patriotism, and do their duty to show the country where they stand. For the rest of America, however, the Iowa caucus has become a beauty pageant—where candidates show off their talents, personalities, and visions for massive change in America. However, what most Americans don’t realize is the importance of the early caucuses and primaries. The Iowa caucus in particular is a chance for Iowans to ask the nitty gritty questions and demand answers, hopefully without candidates deflecting them entirely to pose their stance on a completely different topic. 

Getting an early start in campaigning is important for Iowans. It shows that their opinions and voices matter, especially when candidates show up to locally run businesses or in the ads they saw on television. In 2016 where voters got their media and news coverage, had an effect on who they choose to stand next to, literally. 

That being said, Iowa is a very different state when compared to the rest of the country. Iowans value a president that can fill their specific needs, which may or may not be represent the needs of the nation as a whole. Despite this, the Iowa Caucus can be a launch pad for candidates, and has historically played a big part in choosing who a party’s candidate will ultimately be.

Based on our historical knowledge of the Iowa caucus, as well as numerous polls which show where the candidates stand, we have compiled the following predictions for the results.

Predicting Klobuchar at the top of the polls might come as a surprise, being that nationally her ranking is well below 15%. However, Iowans might see that she has been able to win over Trump counties, and focuses her debate answers on winning the election, which is one of the most important factors that Democrats are looking for in a candidate. She has also been picking up momentum in the polls, which could turn her into a major player. This would be in line with many historical examples, including Jimmy Carter, of people who rose in popularity due to the vote in Iowa.

Sanders comes as a close second due to the fact that he’s been through the ringer previously in Iowa before. In 2016, he emerged as the runner up in the caucus, with Clinton beating him by a mere .3%. He already has an existing base there, and will likely be able to draw upon that to gain results. He is currently first in the polls, however we feel that his momentum is likely over-estimated due to his popularity in 2016, which was against a very different candidate than the current front-runners. Predicting that Iowans follow the same pattern as before, they might be “feeling the Bern” as a secondary pick.  

Biden is likely to be next on the list, as a result of his more moderate policies, as well as his name recognition. This may allow him to draw in undecided voters, and more traditional democrats who reject Bernie’s radical, socialist message, and who may not know as much about Klobuchar.

The rest of the candidates, including Warren and Buttigieg, will suffer in Iowa, not being able to pull in the votes to gain them delegates. It is unlikely their voters will abandon them, especially because many of these candidates have a stronger national appeal, but their underperformance in Iowa is likely to hurt them against their fellow democrats as the race becomes more serious.

As always, Iowa has the ability to surprise us with the results. We could be wildly off, and even a candidate like John Delaney could pick up traction in this state, though I certainly wouldn’t put any money on that. Still, it will certainly be interesting to see how the results steer the trajectory of the election as a whole.

By Natalie Valachovic and Dana Wakeman

Candidate% After Realignment
Vice President Joe Biden22%
Senator Bernie Sanders21%
Mayor Pete Buttigieg19%
Senator Elizabeth Warren16%
Senator Amy Klobuchar15%

What comes to mind when you hear of Iowa? Maybe vast farmlands and state fairs. But, during presidential election years, Iowa’s claim to fame is being the first in the nation to have a primary caucus. As the rest of the country sips on their tea and watches the candidates flock to the Hawkeye State, pollsters and political scientists try to predict the caucus’s outcome and its effects on the rest of the election.

There’s a heavy weight to being the first in the nation for the presidential primary. For the Democrats, the Iowa Caucus has shown the eventual party nominee for President all but four times since 1972. In 2020, the stakes are high on the Democrat’s side due to the goal of beating President Donald Trump. Outcomes of the Iowa Caucus may shed light early on who the candidate will be representing the Democratic Party.

Iowa is more than 90% white in comparison to the United States’ white population at 76.5%. This percentage of white voters in the state will have a significant impact on the Democratic caucus. In a December 2019 poll, Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg all have over 53% percent support among white voters in comparison to only 30% support among whites for Yang. These four candidates will be competing in every precinct to win the white vote, which gives them an advantage over others.

Much of this primary has revolved around Biden and Sanders. Despite both of them having support from white voters, Biden is able to win the caucus because many, including 38% of people in a recent poll believe Biden is able to beat Trump in comparison to only 18% for Sanders. Biden also beats Sanders when voters are asked about which candidate motivates the base and who can attract moderates and independents.

Biden is the safe and electable choice, which makes him the most attractive candidate to many people in Iowa and throughout the country

But what about Senator Elizabeth Warren? Warren had garnered significant momentum earlier in the race, but has lost support due to other candidates and Wall Street insiders focusing their progressive criticism on her, rather than Sanders. Yet, Warren recently received the endorsement from The Des Moines Register, which has on average lead to a four point bump in the polls for past candidates. A recent NYTimes and Siena College poll showed Sanders capturing 25% with Warren having only 15%. Even with the average bump from the endorsement, she is unlikely to beat Sanders.

Caucus-goers are allowed to switch to another candidate if their initial candidate does not reach 15% support. In our prediction, we believe that Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang will both not reach the required 15% as every poll has shown them at far less than 15%, and they have not received an increase in support like Senator Klobuchar.

Steyer’s supporters will disperse to both Vice President Biden, Mayor Buttigeg, and Senator Sanders because his supporters represent a wider variety of ideologies. Among the different sects of the Democratic party, Steyer obtains support from a variety of voters ranging from very liberal, moderate, slightly liberal, or neither. This shows that even though Steyer portrays himself as a progressive, his supporters are more varied, which will cause them to support a variety of candidates in the realignment.

Yang’s supporters will flock to Senator Sanders as they both discuss the economic inequality of this country with Yang’s signature policy granting $1,000 for every American over 18 years old while Sanders’ wants to reign in the billionaires. Yang even stated, “I think that Bernie and I do have a lot of overlap in support so it wouldn’t be surprising to me if many of our supporters head in that direction.”

Iowa is full of surprises and could catapulte another dark horse to frontrunner status such as it did in 1972 with then candidate Jimmy Carter by giving Senator Klobuchar an unexpected boost. Iowa could give us another extremely close election such as it did in 2016 where 0.2% separated Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. In 2020 it seems unlikely that Iowa will support anyone besides the white male candidates like Biden or Sanders.

We will be watching closely as the results come back in on Monday to see how our predictions fared.

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