Working to turn out voters is no guarantee of victory. But in a close election, it can make all the difference..."
Sen. Bernie Sanders had a mantra he used in his stump speech: If you turn on the TV on caucus night and they say turnout is high, we win. If they tell you that turnout is low, we lose. Simple as that.
Except, of course, it’s not that simple. On Monday evening in Iowa, turnout did not match the 2008 record set as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards battled it out. Yet, Sanders still won the most votes so far, both on the first and final ballots, even as the delegate total remains unsettled.
Asked Tuesday about turnout, Sanders told The Intercept that he would have preferred more. Sanders, noted that the numbers were “somewhat higher than in ’16,” when Sanders lost to Clinton by less than 1 percent of state delegates. But, he said, they were “not as high frankly as I would’ve like to have seen.”
Whether high turnout translates into success depends heavily on who turns out; a candidate has to increase turnout among the people most likely to vote for them. (Donald Trump, for instance, helped drive higher turnout among Democrats in the 2018 midterms, but that hardly can be counted as a victory for him.) Throughout the 2020 campaign, Sanders has targeted nontraditional voters, students, and working-class people who usually stay home during primaries and caucuses. As the campaign pointed out on Wednesday, turnout among 17-to-29 year olds went up, even from 2008.
In particular, the campaign focused heavily on bringing people out to the satellite caucuses that were held across the state and in other parts of the world for Iowans who couldn’t make it to the 7 p.m. caucuses. This was the first year the party hosted satellite caucuses, and no other campaign seems to have invested serious resources in turning those voters out. With 41 state delegates available to be swept up, and fewer than 25 delegates currently separating Pete Buttigieg and Sanders, they could end up making the difference when the delegate count is finalized.
The first caucus was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, of all places and reports are that Sanders led the delegates there. Another was held in St. Petersburg, Florida, where former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heavily on the airwaves. The first in Iowa was held at a UFCW union hall in Ottumwa, with Sanders winning all 14 of the final votes to net four precinct delegates, a relatively large pickup. At Drake University in Des Moines, workers and students went overwhelmingly for Sanders, giving him five delegates and Sen. Elizabeth Warren two, meaning that he netted five relative to Buttigieg. (On the Intercepted podcast, we interviewed voters at satellite caucuses and in Precinct 36. Online, some Sanders supporters had urged people not to caucus for Warren but to switch instead to Buttigieg for strategic reasons. Fortunately for Sanders, nobody there took that advice at Drake, and Buttigieg fell one person shy of viability. His supporters then dispersed to both Sanders and Warren, increasing Sanders’s delegate share and once again showing the folly of believing that the system can be gamed strategically, a reality that dawned on the Clinton campaign only after the candidate they prayed would win the GOP nomination ended up beating them in the general.) ...
Read full report at The Intercept