|It's finally here, Iowa Caucus Day.
Tonight at 7pm Central, Democrats will meet in gyms, churches, school cafeterias, and union halls across Iowa and huddle in groups to show support for their preferred presidential candidate to face Trump in November. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Luckily, NBC News has a good caucus primer (How do the Iowa caucuses work?) for those of us just trying to get a sense of what the heck is going on.
One big change this year is that for the first time there will be 96 satellite caucuses to make it easier for people who work at night, residents who winter in places like Arizona and Florida, college students who are out of state and even expats in other countries.
No one knows for certain how things are going to shake out tonight, and the waters were even more muddied after the widely anticipated Des Moines Register/CNN poll was abruptly scrapped Saturday night. (Read about what might have happened here)
One thing is for sure - it's a tight race. According to the latest average of Iowa polls from FiveThirtyEight, there are two frontrunners: Sanders at 22% and Biden at 21%, with Buttigieg (16%), Warren (15%) and Klobuchar (10%) not far behind.
Will we end the night with a clear frontrunner going into next week's New Hampshire primary? Probably not. And to add to everyone's collective confusion, there's a world in which we could have multiple candidates claiming victory in Iowa. You see, this year the caucuses will produce four different sets of results: first vote, final alignment, state delegate equivalency, and pledged delegates. This means campaigns will have four different opportunities to say they've won!
Nate Cohn of the New York Times even goes as far as playing out a scenario where four different candidates could do that. Read more on that here: Iowa Could Have Multiple Candidates Declare Victory. Let Us Show You How. While highly unlikely, it's still a fun little exercise and shows you how it all works.
Want to sound like an Iowa caucus pro without having to learn the difference between state delegate equivalency and pledged delegates? Just start talking about
Mother Nature will have her voice heard too, as a cold front has swept in causing the temperature to drop just in time for caucusing. This could effect turnout, and more importantly for some candidates, could impact which age groups show up.
So now that we all have a better sense of tonight's festivities, here's where we'll be watching the results come in (most likely around 8:30/9:00pm CT):
Happy Presidential nominating season, friends!