Iowa caucuses Monday night as another candidate drops out

DES MOINES (The Center Square) — After months of campaigning and hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, the Iowa caucuses finally arrive Monday night. Supporters of John Delaney, however, will have to find a new candidate as the former Maryland Congressman announced Friday he was dropping out of the race.

Delaney said he did not want to take support away from other moderate candidates heading into Monday night, although he was consistently polling at 1 percent or less.

Delaney is the fourth Democratic presidential hopeful to drop in January, joining former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, author Marianne Williamson and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett have been able to spend virtually no time in Iowa recently due to the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Thursday as the senators were in Washington, D.C., Trump held a rally in Des Moines that filled Drake University’s Knapp Center to capacity at about 7,000 people.

This could harm the Democratic senators in the caucuses as Iowans value what experts call “retail politics,” which is the expectation that candidates will attend as many events as possible and meet as many people as possible while campaigning.

Sanders, however, topped recent polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. The Granite State will hold the nation’s first primary on Feb. 11.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and businessman Andrew Yang have been consistently visible in Iowa recently trying to persuade voters to “stand in their corner.”

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And that’s exactly how a caucus works – voters gather at one of more than 1,600 precincts held in places like libraries, church halls, school gymnasiums and even private homes – and assemble in groups supporting each candidate.

This is called forming a “preference group” and also includes an area for undecided voters to assemble. That is followed by 30 minutes of “electioneering” where supporters try to persuade others, including undecided voters, to join their preference group instead.

At that point, only candidates with at least 15 percent are considered “viable.” Another 30 minutes are used for participants to convince supporters of inviable candidates – and again undecided voters – to join them. Those supporting inviable candidates can also try to align together to get a candidate back to viable status.

When the voting is finished, a final headcount is conducted and each precinct apportions delegates to the county convention based on a percentage of support for each candidate.

The caucuses begin at 7 p.m. CST Monday and could take several hours for results to be known. For the first time ever, the Iowa Democratic Committee is allowing satellite caucuses, including in 13 other states and three foreign countries.

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