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Lack of enthusiasm? Iowa Democratic caucus turnout not on pace to exceed 2016

Bad for Dems, good for Trump

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amid the chaos of the Iowa Democratic Party's total inability to produce results from Monday night's caucus, an official released a crucial bit of information — turnout did not indicate any increase in enthusiasm for 2020 candidates over 2016, according to the Associated Press.

Iowa Democratic Party communications director Mandy McClure reported last night, with about 25% of precincts reporting, that turnout was on pace to match that of 2016. That's a disappointment for those Democrats hoping to see a spike in turnout for what is perceived as a high-stakes election with many more choices than 2016 offered.

In 2016, about 170,000 people voted in the Iowa Democratic caucus. In 2008, the previous open Democratic primary, about 240,000 people turned out when former President Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton and others on the way to the nomination.

Low turnout in Iowa fuels long-running concerns about whether the Democrats' large and very liberal field has a candidate that can rally the entire party the way Obama did.

Joe Biden's campaign has failed to garner enthusiastic support; his candidacy is succeeding mostly due to his perception of electability against Trump. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have passionate supporters, but their extreme views come with questions about whether they have a broad enough appeal to win a general election against a Republican incumbent in a strong economy. Pete Buttigieg lacks any national experience and has failed to get almost any support from black voters, a key demographic.

Turnout will be important to watch as the Democratic primary goes on, as the Democratic nominee will certainly need strong turnout to have a chance to win. That's why the primary has been dominated recently by the question of whether Democratic voters will unify behind the eventual nominee.

Will Sanders supporters turn out for Biden if he wins the nomination? Will Biden supporters turn out for Sanders or Warren, or will they stay home — or possibly even opt for Trump over a socialist candidate?

As of Tuesday morning, the result of the Iowa caucuses is still unknown after confusion over new caucus rules and the failure of an app used to count votes led to a total breakdown of the process. The issues created significant delays at some caucuses, reportedly leading some voters to go home before their caucus was completed.

One last thing…
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