2020 Daily Trail Markers: Iowa chaos lingers ahead of New Hampshire

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Caitlin Conant
·16 min read
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The chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is calling for the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) to conduct a recanvass of the caucus results amid ongoing delays in their release, report CBS News campaign reporters Adam Brewster and Musadiq Bidar. Tom Perez, the party's chairman, said the recanvass was necessary to ensure "public confidence in the results."    

"Enough is enough," Perez tweeted. "In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass."

Two sources familiar with the matter tell CBS News that the state party wasn't aware that Perez would call for a recanvass, with 97% of the results now already reported. Sources also tell CBS News that the DNC has been running the caucus operation in Iowa for at least 48 hours. 

Requests for a recanvass must come in written form from a presidential campaign, according to the state party's Iowa Delegate Selection Plan. Candidates have until Friday at noon to make a request, and that request is required to include an explanation of "how the national delegation could be altered as a result of the problem or its correction." The IDP has 48 hours to respond to recanvassing requests, with a projected timeline for the review and a fee estimate and payment schedule for the campaign.   

In response to Perez's call for the review, IDP chair Troy Price said the IDP is prepared to conduct a recanvass should any presidential campaign ask for the audit. 

"In such a circumstance, the IDP will audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns," he said in a statement. "This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans." The state party, he said, owes it to Iowa Democrats, volunteers and caucus-goers "to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results." 

The IDP defines a recanvass as "a hand audit of Caucus Math Worksheets and Reporting Forms to ensure that they were tallied and reported in the telephone intake sheets and caucus reporting application correctly." And this is essentially what the state party has already been doing to report the results so far.

A recanvass differs from a recount. A recount is a hand count and audit of Presidential Preference Cards to ensure that caucus votes were tallied and reported correctly in the caucus worksheets and reporting forms. 

With 97% of precincts reporting, there is a razor thin margin of state delegates separating Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders for the lead in Iowa. Buttigieg has 550 delegates (26.2% percent) and Sanders has 547 (26.1% percent). Following them are Elizabeth Warren (18.2%), Joe Biden (15.8%) and Amy Klobuchar (12.2%).

More than two days after the Iowa caucuses began, results have still not been reported from 3% of the precincts around the state. While the IDP is calling "the accuracy and integrity of the results" a priority, there were some data that raised questions on the party's site.

A CBS News analysis of data on the IDP's website found that there were more than 70 precincts where there was a higher total of participants listed on the second alignment than the initial alignment. It's not immediately clear whether any statewide delegate equivalents (SDEs) were impacted. Those ultimately determine how many national delegates a candidate wins. But the reporting discrepancies have raised questions about the data. It also isn't immediately clear what led to those numbers that were reported. The analysis was based on the reports of data that were presented to the public by the IDP.

CBS News has reached out to the IDP about any of the issues in data on the website, but has not received a response. In a statement to the New York Times, IDP communications director Mandy McClure said the party is reporting numbers they received on documents provided by precinct chairs. 

"The caucus math work sheet is the official report on caucus night to the I.D.P., and the I.D.P. reports the results as delivered by the precinct chair," McClure said. "This form must be signed by the caucus chair, the caucus secretary and representatives from each campaign in the room who attest to its accuracy. Under the rules of the delegate selection process, delegates are awarded based off the record of results as provided by each precinct caucus chair."

There have been some reports circulating on social media of instances where a candidate won the second alignment, but lost the SDEs. CBS News found 12 instances of this, but all of them were in precincts with only 1 delegate going to the county convention. 

In those precincts there is only one round of alignment and even if a candidate has the most people supporting them, the room as a whole elects the delegate to the county convention. That delegate needs a majority of people to vote for them. So, if more than half of the room votes for a delegate supporting a different candidate than the one with the most supporters, that candidate wins the delegate and the SDEs. 

For example, in Polk 72, Sanders had the most people supporting him in the precinct, but when it came time to elect the delegate, and thus allocate the SDEs, Biden's delegate received more votes. As such, Biden won the SDEs from the precinct.

The reporting of results from Monday's caucuses was initially delayed in part because of issues with a mobile phone app that was intended to collect and transmit caucus results. Precinct chairs who used a hotline to report the results to the Iowa Democratic Party also ran into problems, as they reported long wait times before connecting with party officials.   

The delayed process in the reporting of results has led both Sanders and Buttigieg to claim victory. Both have moved on to campaigning in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on Tuesday. While Buttigieg maintains a slight edge in delegates, Sanders told supporters Wednesday during an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, that his campaign is "winning the popular initial vote by some 6,000 votes."



Three days after Pete Buttigieg declared victory in Iowa, the former South Bend mayor said the campaign is "absolutely electrified" but he did not repeat his victory claim, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. 

At a veterans event Thursday afternoon, Buttigieg said this last week has been "extraordinary," but noted that he has work to do in order to convince New Hampshire voters to support him. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Bernie Sanders is leading most polls in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"We are absolutely electrified by the energy that we are coming here with and by the extraordinary validation of this campaign's vision that we had in Iowa on Monday," Buttigieg said.

But, he added: "New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anybody else tell you what to do."

Buttigieg first declared victory late Monday night without any verified results from the state party. While campaigning in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, Buttigieg said it was an "astonishing victory" for the campaign after he was shown leading the state delegate equivalents (SDEs) count. With 97% of precincts reporting results on Thursday, Buttigieg held a razor-thin lead in the SDEs count ahead of Sanders. But as of Thursday, Sanders led Buttigieg in the popular vote.

Buttigieg's campaign also announced in an email to supporters that they have raised $2.7 million from more than 60,000 donors since Tuesday morning.


Senator Bernie Sanders lambasted the Iowa Democratic Party for its inability to get the results of the Iowa caucuses out quickly, and he claimed victory in the popular vote in the caucuses, reports CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte.

"We are ... in Manchester, New Hamsphire, today, holding a press conference that should have occurred three nights ago in Des Moines, Iowa, but for the inability of the Iowa Democratic Party to count votes in a timely fashion," he said. "That screwup has been extremely unfair to the people of Iowa. It has been unfair to the candidates, all of the candidates and all of their supporters." 

He thanked the people of Iowa "for the very strong victory they gave us in the Iowa caucuses Monday night," even though the results have still not been released in full.

"Our campaign is winning the popular initial vote by some 6,000 votes," he said, adding that in the realignment, he is leading by 2,500 votes. Pete Buttigieg leads in the count of state delegate equivalents (SDEs), which determines how Iowa's delegates will be apportioned in the race for the nomination. But Sanders called the difference separating the two "meaningless" because both Buttigieg and Sanders are likely to receive the same number of national delegates, given the small difference between them in SDEs.

Sanders also called Iowa's caucus "far too complicated." The Iowa Democratic Party has still not finished releasing its results. As of late Thursday morning, he was close behind Pete Buttigieg in the Iowa caucus results with 26.1% and 97% of the results reported. Potentially complicating the issue is that Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez has called for an immediate recanvass of the caucuses.

Sanders' presidential campaign also announced Thursday it will ramp up staffing in Super Tuesday states and make an aggressive $5.5 million television and digital ad buy in 10 states. That will include an expansion of prior investments in Texas and California, following a $25 million January fundraising haul.

"Bernie's multiracial, multigenerational, people-driven movement for change is fueling 2020's most aggressive campaign for president," Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir said. "Working class Americans giving $18 at a time are putting our campaign in a strong position to compete in states all over the map."

The investment follows the campaign's single best fundraising month to date with over 1.3 million donations from more than 648,000 people. More than 219,000 new donors gave in January. "Teacher" was the most common occupation of Sanders' January donors. The five most common employers were Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, the United States Postal Service and Target. The average donation was $18.72.


Andrew Yang's presidential campaign is cutting loose "dozens" of staffers following a disappointing showing in Iowa, CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ben Mitchell reports. The firings include the national policy and political directors, as well as the deputy national policy director. The Yang campaign denied parts of a report in Politico, saying these were not "senior" level officials. 

"As part of our original plans following the Iowa caucuses, we are winding down our Iowa operations and restructuring to compete as the New Hampshire primary approaches," Yang campaign manager Zach Graumann said in a statement. Yang's campaign spent nearly $7 million on TV ads in Iowa from November to caucus night, per Kantar Media Group, and spent $19M in Q4 despite raising $16.5M. Yang also spent 20 days in Iowa and did 76 events leading up to the caucus. Though the results are not final, Andrew Yang appears to have placed a distant sixth in Iowa, netting 1% of SDEs.



In the shadow of Iowa's caucus debacle, Granite State officials gathered at the Capitol Building to reassure the public that "New Hampshire is going to get it right" in its primary on February 11, says CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga.

"When our citizens cast their ballot, they know their vote will be counted correctly with integrity, and on time," Governor Chris Sununu told reporters. "But given the news and uncertainty out of Iowa, I want to ensure the public that the systems we have in place here in New Hampshire are truly beyond reproach. We are the first in the nation primary state. And while Iowa has a caucus, we are the first true primary election of the 2020 calendar, and we've earned that honor over the past 100 years." 

While 6,000 election officials will run poll stations across the state come primary day, Attorney General Gordon McDonald announced 50 investigators, attorneys and officials from his office will also patrol ballot boxes. Each of New Hampshire's 309 polling locations are required to fill out a seven-page polling place checklist before voting begins.

"Our constitution requires that each moderator actually publicly announce the vote before they leave that polling place that night," Secretary of State Bill Gardner said. This primary marks New Hampshire's 100th year of voting first. Thirty-three candidates will appear on the Democratic ballot.

Meanwhile, a new Monmouth University poll released Thursday shows Senator Bernie Sanders in the lead just five days before the first-in-the-nation primary, reports Sganga. At 24% the lawmaker from nearby Vermont jumped 6 points from last month's New Hampshire poll released by Monmouth University.  

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Former Vice President Joe Biden came in second, earning 20% and 17% of support respectively. Senator Elizabeth Warren follows at 13%, with Senator Amy Klobuchar at 9%, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang tied at 4%.  

As CBS News previously reported, the delayed results out of Iowa seem to have had little effect on New Hampshire voters. According to the Monmouth poll, 62% of respondents said the caucuses did not influence feelings about their current presidential pick. The survey also showed just 49% of likely Democratic primary voters have made up their minds on who they'll vote for, while 46% said there's a possibility they'll change their mind.


2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are ramping up ad buys in New Hampshire ahead of its first in the nation primary February 11. As of now, candidates have spent more than $43 million dollars on ads in the state. According to Kantar Campaign Media Analysis Group, Tom Steyer has spent the most with nearly $20 million, Bernie Sanders has spent nearly $6 million, Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang have each spent nearly $4 million and Elizabeth Warren has spent more than $1.5 million reports CBS News Political Unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. 

This comes this week as Warren invested $36,000 into New Hampshire while pulling money from other early states. At the same time, Amy Klobuchar this week invested another $430,000 on ads in New Hampshire, bringing her total spending to nearly $1.5 million in the Granite state as well.

Meanwhile, Biden is lagging behind on ad spending in New Hampshire. His campaign and the Unite the Country PAC that supports him have spent less than $1 million in New Hampshire. On Thursday morning, Unite the Country released a new ad in New Hampshire that makes the case that Biden's plans to expand health care, fight climate change and take on the NRA are "achievable," perhaps a veiled dig at other candidates. However, Biden and Unite the Country's ad spending in the state is even less than what Deval Patrick and his supporting super PAC Reason to Believe PAC are currently spending in New Hampshire, with a combined $1.9 million. In fact, yesterday Biden pulled $4,200 in ads out of New Hampshire along with nearly $175,000 out of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, as candidates focus in on New Hampshire, the campaigns are shuffling their ad spend in Nevada, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin, per Kantar CMAG data. Joe Biden's total in the state this week dropped briefly by around $60,000, before returning to above the original amount. Bernie Sanders has expanded his own future reservations as Elizabeth Warren drew down some flights in the state, which the Massachusetts senator explained as being "careful about how we spend our money." And on Wednesday, Warren's campaign manager suggested an aide for Pete Buttigieg tweeted instructions to a Super PAC about a possible ad in the state. The former South Bend mayor, as well as an outside group that has aired ads backing him in the past, currently has no future reservations in Nevada.

The shuffling comes as Bernie Sanders is also moving full speed ahead toward Super Tuesday, reports Ewall-Wice. Today, his campaign announced it raised a whopping $25 million in the month of January alone and that the campaign will invest $5.5 million in television and digital ad buys in 10 states. The only other candidate currently airing ads in all of those states holding contests on March 3 is billionaire Mike Bloomberg.



With less than a month to go, the Republican primary for former-Congressman Duncan Hunter's old California 50th district is turning into a battle of old and new. Carl DeMaio, who also ran for Congress in 2014, is known in the area for his conservative talk show, and he served on the San Diego City Council. He heads into 2020 with $1.73 million cash on hand. His opponent Darrell Issa, who used to represent the neighboring California 49th District, brought in less money during the fourth quarter but has a similar war chest with $1.61 million - in part thanks to a $1.2 million loan listed in his FEC report.  

CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says Issa picked up two notable conservative endorsements on Thursday: former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Both campaigns have been trying to "out-Trump" each other. Issa Communications Director Greg Blair criticized DeMaio's stance on Roe v. Wade and labeled him as a "pro-amnesty, Never Trump liberal" in a statement, while Demaio tweeted a video compilation of Issa's comments calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian involvement in 2016's elections. The district's primaries are on March 3, and the Democratic front runner Ammar Campa-Najjar is looking for another shot after narrowly losing to Hunter by less than four points in 2018.

Editor's note: This article previously said that Carl DeMaio has never held public office, but in fact, he served on the San Diego City Council. This has been updated.

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