JPN Anxiety clouds Dems caucus in Iowa

World News

DES MOINES, IOWA – On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates hustled across the state Sunday trying to fire up voters and make one last appeal to those struggling to make a final decision about their choice in the crowded field.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told several hundred supporters in a parking lot behind his field office in Cedar Rapids, where the event was moved after too many people showed up to fit inside, that high turnout in Iowa means he wins and low turnout will result in the opposite.

“We are the campaign of energy and excitement,” Sanders said. “We believe we are in a position to win tomorrow night” and that “gives us a path toward victory” over President Donald Trump.

Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, talked up his newcomer status during a rally in Coralville, where a Republican asked why he should support Buttigieg over former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but every single time my party has won the White House in the last 50 years, we have done it with someone who is new in national politics,” Buttigieg said.

In Dubuque, Biden told voters there won’t be time for a “on-the-job training” and pledged, “If you stand with me, we can end Donald Trump’s reign of hatred and division and unify this country.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren closed her Indianola event with an impassioned plea for her supporters to “fight back.”

“Americans are at our best when we see a problem — we tackle it head-on and we fight it to the ground,” Warren said.

Underlying the frenzied late moments, campaigns and voters acknowledged a palpable sense of unpredictability and anxiety as Democrats begin selecting which candidate to send on to a November face-off with President Donald Trump. The Democratic race is unusually large and jumbled heading into Monday’s caucus. Four candidates were locked in a fight for victory in Iowa; others were in position to pull off surprisingly strong finishes.

“This is going to go right down to the last second,” said Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign.

Polls show Biden in a close race in Iowa with Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang are also competing aggressively in the state.

Democrats’ deep disdain for Trump has put many in the party on edge about the decision. A series of external forces has also heightened the sense of unpredictability in Iowa, including Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, which marooned Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar in Washington for much of the past week.

Many campaigns were looking to a final weekend poll to provide some measure of clarity. But late Saturday night, CNN and The Des Moines Register opted not to release the survey because of worries the results may have been compromised.

Carol Hunter, the executive editor of the newspaper, said a poll respondent reported that a candidate’s name was omitted when the person was asked to name a preferred candidate. The problem appeared to be isolated to one surveyor, the news organizations couldn’t be certain, according to Hunter.

A person at CNN told The Associated Press that name was Buttigieg’s, but it could have been any candidate because the names automatically randomize after every call.

New caucus rules have also left the campaigns working in overdrive to set expectations before the contest. For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party will release three sets of results: who voters align with at the start of the night, who they pick after voters supporting nonviable candidates get to make a second choice and the number of state delegate equivalents each candidate gets.

The new rules were mandated by the Democratic National Committee as part of a package of changes sought by Sanders following his loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primaries. The changes were designed to make the caucus system more transparent and to make sure that even the lowest-performing candidates get credit for all the votes they receive. But party officials in Iowa and at the DNC have privately expressed concerns in recent weeks that not just Sanders but multiple campaigns will spin the results in their favor, potentially creating chaos on caucus night.

AP will declare a winner in Iowa based on the number of state delegates each candidate wins. AP will also report all three results.