Iowa caucuses: Sanders and Clinton in dead heat

DES MOINES, Iowa – As a result of the 1,681 caucuses held across the state last night, there will be about an equal number of Clinton delegates and Sanders delegates at the 99 county conventions to be held in March. These conventions will decide who will go to the state convention in June, which will in turn decide who goes to the National Democratic Convention to be held in Philadelphia in July.

Sanders garnered 695 delegates and Hillary got 699.

In six caucuses, the voting was so close that the number of delegates per candidate was decided by a coin toss.

The Iowa caucuses will have a great impact on coming primaries and caucuses to be held across the nation.

However, voting in other states will affect the decisions of those attending Iowa county and state conventions. Delegates to the conventions have no obligation to stick with their original candidate choices and there are many non-committed delegates.

The possibility of delegates switching loyalties is especially true because participants in the Democratic caucuses last night universally said they would support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.

Frederick Lumeh was typical. He was elected as a Clinton delegate from the precinct 48 caucus. He told the crowd, “She has the experience to get things done. It’s important to the world that America elect its first woman president.”

When asked if he would support Bernie if Hillary did not become the Democratic nominee, he emphatically stated, “Of course!”

Derma Rivera-Aguirre, a Bernie supporter, also said “of course” she’ll support Clinton if Sanders loses the nomination. “But my first choice is Bernie,” she said. “He’s for the people, not Wall Street. He’s sincere and trustworthy. He might not have the political experience that Hillary does, but he has more life experience.”

Rivera-Aguirre was elected to represent precinct 48 as a Sanders delegate.

Both Lumeh and Rivera-Aguirre are recent immigrants and the majority of the voters were white, native Iowans

Ultimately at stake in Iowa are 44 delegates to the National Democratic Convention, which has a total of 4,763 delegates. Iowa is not a winner take all state, so its contingent to the convention can split its votes.

At this point, Clinton is  ahead of Sanders in what could be the final delegate count because 362 “super delegates” have pledged to vote for her, and only eight back Sanders. Super delegates are members of Congress and other elected officials, party leaders and members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). They are not elected through any primary or caucus process, but are appointed by the DNC. History has shown though that “super delegates” can also change their minds. For instance, many super delegates first committed to Clinton in 2008  later switched to Obama.

There are 712 super delegates altogether.

Iowans take their “first in the nation to vote” role very seriously.

Last night, the People’s World attended caucuses taking place in the Iowa State Historical building, near portraits of two famous Iowans: Henry Wallace and Herbert Hoover. The plaque under Wallace’s picture listed his 1948 run for President as the candidate of the Progressive Party.

Six caucuses took place at the same time, in different rooms: three Democratic and three Republican.

Several hundred reporters swarmed the almost 1,000 caucus participants, shoving microphones and lights in their faces.

What do the caucus goers think about being treated like fish in a bowl, exercising their right to vote surrounded by media?

All the delegates interviewed said the same thing: they feel that it’s their duty as Iowans to model democracy for the rest of the country. They said that before coming to the causes they study the issues, but when they arrive they listen to the opinions of others.

Democratic and Republican caucuses goers supported a wide variety of candidates and stated their cases as persuasively as possible, but in good-natured ways. After all, they are all neighbors.

Donald Trump lost in the Republican caucuses we observed. People said his style was not Iowan enough.

Photo: Earchiel Johnson/PW


CONTRIBUTOR

Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.

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