By Jim EllisFeb. 5, 2020 — Almost a full day after voting ended, the Iowa Democratic Party released what now accounts for almost three-quarters of the state’s precinct totals, and we may be headed for a split decision.
While South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is being credited as the leader and potential victor, the complicated Iowa system suggests that two candidates can claim a victory of sorts.
Buttigieg leads among the state delegate count, as caucus attenders choose individuals to serve as delegates to the state party convention in order to determine how Iowa’s 41 first-ballot delegates will vote at the Democratic National Convention in mid-July. At this writing, Buttigieg has 26.8 percent of the state delegate contingent, ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 25.2 percent.
In actuality, however, it is Sanders who has more raw votes. At this point, the Vermont senator maintains an approximate 1,300-vote lead over Buttigieg, and 7,000 more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Former Vice President Joe Biden performed poorly, attracting only half the total number of votes that Sanders has so far recorded.
Each caucus awards a certain number of delegates regardless of how many people attend the precinct meeting. Like the electoral college in the general election, the bigger entities receive more delegate votes. Therefore, even though Buttigieg received fewer popular votes he did better in the largest areas, thus awarding him a few more state delegates.
In terms of the published projections for the national convention delegate slate it appears that Buttigieg would have 12 votes, Sanders 10, Warren 6, and Biden 3 with ten more to be decided once all of the votes are finally tabulated. It’s possible that while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) failed to reach the 15 percent threshold she might earn a delegate or two based upon the individual congressional district vote.
Biden, who is currently at just 15.4 percent of the state delegate vote is just barely qualifying for apportionment. If the final outstanding votes cut against him, it’s possible that he could fail to reach the final 15 percent, which would prevent him from earning any at-large national convention delegate votes.