The Iowa Caucuses

Trump supporters untroubled by shifting positions

By Misha Euceph

With Donald Trump leading by a mile on the eve of the South Carolina primary, his rivals are asking whether he is a true Republican.

A super PAC aligned with former Florida governor Jeb Bush put it bluntly in a new ad: “If Trump wins, conservatives lose.”

“Donald Trump is just plain wrong,” declares an ad by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The 30-second spot criticizes Trump for speaking highly of Planned Parenthood’s efforts on women’s health, even as the New York businessman says he opposes abortion.

Conservative critics say Trump,  a former Democrat, is a flip-flopper, yet the charge has been slow to stick. He easily won last week’s New Hampshire vote and holds a substantial lead in the polls ahead of Saturday’s GOP primary. FiveThirtyEight gives him an 84 percent chance of winning the state.

All candidates massage their records, but the charge of changing positions can doom a campaign, most notably Democrat John Kerry in 2004. He never recovered from his statement that he voted for an Iraq War measure before he voted against it.

But evidence that Trump has traded liberal views for conservative ones does not much matter to his most enthusiastic supporters. Continue reading

A look inside an Iowa Caucus (Photo gallery)

By Caroline Kenny

ANKENY, Iowa — The Briarwood Golf Club in Ankeny, Iowa was the caucus location for 237 Democrats on Monday night. The player’s lounge of the golf club was packed to the brim with voters in an unprecedented turnout for the precinct, which was not expected to happen. The north side of the room featured 158 Hillary Clinton supporters, while the south side was home to 67 Bernie Sanders voters. In the middle were the 12 Martin O’Malley caucus-goers, who were told after the first period of caucusing that 12 was not viable, since it did not meet the 15% threshold, and they would have to realign themselves with another candidate.

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The last moments of Martin O’Malley’s campaign

By Caroline Kenny

DES MOINES —At the final event of his presidential campaign, just hours before he dropped out of the race, Martin O’Malley offered a rallying cry to his Iowa supporters and urged them to “hold strong” at their caucus locations.

Surrounded by his family, O’Malley spent the waning hours of his campaign with volunteers who came from all over the country to spread his progressive, can-do message. They could not have known that he would win just 0.6 percent of the caucus vote – a flyspeck compared with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who each had 49 percent.

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4 things to know after the Iowa caucuses

By Max Greenwood

The Iowa caucuses are over, but the 2016 primary calendar is just beginning. The candidates are focused on New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Before the caravan moves on, here are five things to know coming out of Iowa:

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Can Ted Cruz, political professional, outwit Donald Trump?

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DES MOINES, Iowa – Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa last week not only showed that the Texas senator’s evangelical base in Iowa is sizable, supportive and strong. It also positioned him as a staunchly conservative professional politician in a race against as real estate tycoon with  uncertain political leanings.

In the months leading up to Feb. 1 caucuses, pundits thrived on speculation about Trump’s ability to attract large numbers in the electorate with what sometimes seems a grab-bad of policies and pronouncements. His signature pursuit of a restoration of America’s greatness is all but devoid of policy specifics.

The Republican caucus-goers of Iowa spoke their mind on the conundrum. By 28 percent to 24 percent, with Sen. Marco Rubio narrowly third at 23 percent, it is the true politicians who do it for them – and that’s not Trump.

The irony is rich, for Cruz spends enormous amounts of rhetorical energy blasting professional politicians. Yet, as a real politician, Cruz had a clearer sense than Trump of how to go about Iowa: it all boils down to the people. With that in mind, Cruz visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties, a mission he completed just hours before Iowans headed to the precincts.

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Sanders on the upswing: What now?

By Morgan Gilbard 

DES MOINES — Underdog Bernie Sanders fought Democratic Party  royalty Hillary Clinton to a draw in Iowa on Monday night.  Whoever noses ahead in the final count, the results highlighted a hard lesson that Clinton should have learned in 2008: Never underestimate the new kid on the block, even if he’s a 74-year-old Democratic socialist.

The caucus was a victory for Clinton in only the strictest sense of the word. In many respects, Sanders’ close pursuit brings Clinton’s entire campaign strategy into question and places more pressure on her to regain ground in New Hampshire and beyond.

Projections for the Feb. 9 primary already looked bleak for Clinton, who trailed Sanders by 18 points before the Iowa results were in. Her team is watching to see if the dead heat will further energize the Vermont senator and his enthusiastic fans.

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Dead last: What does it mean for Republicans?

By Alison Martin

DES MOINES, Iowa – The caucuses ended. Results came in. Winners claimed victory. Now five other candidates must decide where to put their meager chips – or whether they should cash out.

Let’s take a look.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush outspent everyone – Republican or Democrat – in this race. The campaign was supposed to soar, buoyed by more than $100 million in outside money from super PACs and other 501(c)(4) groups, plus another $31 million from direct donations subject to dollar limits.

All the money in the world, however, can’t buy Iowa. Bush finished a distant fifth with  2.8 percent of the vote – roughly one-tenth the total of GOP winner Ted Cruz. Jeb! earned just one delegate.

Bush was not here to cry about his loss. By the time Iowans were stepping up to caucus, he was laboring in New Hampshire, the next primary battleground, where voters go to the polls on Feb. 9.

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In Iowa, Cruz wins big, Trump nips Rubio; Sanders and Clinton in virtual tie

By Max Greenwood

DES MOINES – Texas senator Ted Cruz delivered an unexpected blow to Donald Trump in Iowa’s Republican caucuses on Monday night, sweeping to victory as Florida senator Marco Rubio made it a three-man race.

On the Democratic side, the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders remained close. With 95 percent of the vote counted, the rivals were in a virtual tie, with Clinton leading Sanders by less than 1 percent.

The third Democratic candidate, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, won less than one percent of the delegates and suspended his campaign. Continue reading

Voter Turnout Exceeds Expectations in Ankeny

By Caroline Kenny

ANKENY, Iowa — At the Briarwood Golf Club caucus location in Ankeny, 237 caucus goers arrived, far exceeding the expectations of the caucus chairman. Precinct leader Daniel Denamore spoke with Medill Reports about the turnout.

Turnout in Ankeny is Greater than Expected from Medill Reports on Vimeo.

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Contending with gender: pondering President Hillary Clinton

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DES MOINES, Iowa – It easy to find Iowa women who believe gender should not be the deciding factor in choosing a presidential candidate. Harder to find are women who doubt that electing the country’s first female president would shape the future of the country.

“Personally, I feel like gender is important,” said Anne Bailey, deputy field director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, who volunteered at a Hillary Clinton rally in Cedar Rapids. “Representation is important. When women are making policies, they’re putting issues that affect women at the top of the agenda.”

Heading into Monday night’s caucuses, Clinton enjoyed a slight lead  over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders here. Not only is she given a better chance at being the Democratic nominee, a win in Iowa would also make history – eight years after Iowa Democrats chose Barack Obama and pushed her into third place.

According to the final Des Moines Register poll released Saturday, Clinton was outpolling Sanders among women by 10 points.  The newspaper noted that women make up the majority of the caucus electorate in Iowa.

Writing recently in the Register, University of Iowa political science professor Sara Mitchell argued that gender matters: “My basic argument in the editorial is that democratic women in legislatures are more likely to vote to help women’s issues.”

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