UPDATE (10:25): Ted Cruz has won the Iowa Caucus. The Dem race is still far too close! Trump will finish second. Marco Rubio finishes third, but only approximately 2,000 votes behind Trump. Dr. Ben Carson will finish fourth. Rand Paul will finish fifth.
UPDATE (10:20): Ted Cruz 28%, Donald Trump 24%, Marco Rubio 23%. 97% of precincts are reporting. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump will fight it out for second.
UPDATE (10:05): Martin O’Malley has told journalists to be ready for a press conference, he will be suspending his campaign.
Trump is, reportedly, not doing well in any of the major cities (Des Moines, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids). Many of the caucus-goers turning out there made their minds up in the last several days, many of them on the content of the last debate. Skipping the final debate may have cost Trump. Cruz is also pulling ahead with “anti-Establishment” voters.
UPDATE (10:00p): According to GOP officials, 170,000 Republicans turned up to caucus this year, which is straight up insane. With 75% reporting in, Cruz is still up 28-25.
UPDATE (9:50p): With 70% of the precincts reporting in (and the first large cities starting to report), Cruz remains in the lead over Trump, 29-25. My cat is now asleep.
UPDATE (9:40p): Votes are now coming in much faster. Cruz is pulling away slightly, largely because Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson are overperforming. Rubio has broken 20%. Dr. Carson has won at least one precinct and will likely break 10%. According to official polls, Cruz is leading Trump, 29-25.
UPDATE: (9:30p): With 24% of the vote reporting in, Cruz is still beating Trump, 29-26. Cruz is considered to be overperforming.
UPDATE (9:15p): Tonight’s “first time Democratic caucus-goers” number is 40%, 33% lower than it was for Barack Obama. That’s bad news for Bernie, who relies on new caucus-goers to float his campaign. Without more first-timers, Sanders likely loses to Clinton. Does Sanders-mentum have a limit?
UPDATE (9:00p): As of 9pm, Ted Cruz is leading 30% to Trump’s 28%. Six percent of polls have reported in. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is edging out Bernie Sanders, 52% to 46%, with 21% of polls reporting.
UPDATE (8:41): Marco Rubio appears to have gained the support of those who decided just in the last few days. Ted Cruz appears to have won the “Google vote,” that is, he is the most searched candidate in Iowa ahead of the caucus. Entrance polls seem to favor Donald Trump only slightly. With 2% reporting in, Trump and Cruz are tied.
UPDATE (8:24p): Martin O’Malley is predicted to come in third for the Democratic nomination. Color me shocked.
UPDATE: By entrance polling, 15% of the Dems caucusing are under 30. 40% of Dem caucus-goers are first-timers. Unfortunately for Bernie, most of the caucus-goers are not showing up in high-delegate precincts.
May the odds be ever in your favor, America.
Obviously, the Iowa Caucus is far from the most important contest in the political season (just ask Presidents Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul how well Iowa predicted their eventual nominations), but this year, it’s especially infuriating because its the first official contest, and everyone is anxious to see whether voters really will cast a ballot (or, in the case of the Iowa Caucus, mill around aimlessly in a distinct corner of a particular high school gymnasium) for Donald Trump. Iowa has 30 Republican delegates who are also elected to chairmanship positions, so in Iowa, this is big.
For Democrats, this will be either a full-on Hillary Clinton victory or a Bernie Sanders upset – a familiar sight to Clinton who lost the Iowa Caucus, and then the Democratic nomination, to another far-left upstart just eight years ago. Granted, that upstart was cool, calm and collected, and this one yells at trees to get out of his way, and has a plan to force you to pay for everyone else’s health insurance. The Democratic matchup has sparked an intra-party war, as decidedly anti-corporate Starbucks baristas are lecturing single-issue feminist voters on why an old white man is the best choice to defend feminism in the 21st century.
In the end, Iowa comes down to voter turnout (which is a dumb thing to say because literally every election comes down to voter turnout), which is predicted to be uncharacteristically low. Iowa also favors the prepared and the bold – the campaign that can get the most supporters to their correct designated caucusing location on time and with steel backbones, as Iowa voters can “argue and convince” other caucus-goers to “re-caucus” to their respective corners, because this is middle America, the scores are made up and the points don’t matter.
I’ll keep you updated throughout the night as we get more information and I become increasingly disenchanted with this whole process. Feel free to use the comments section as an open thread. Until then, America – cheers!
Good luck tonight, everyone. You’re gonna need it.