With no convergence in recent polling and several candidates with a realistic chance to win on Monday, this latest installment in Bleeding Heartland's occasional series of prediction contests should be entertaining. Anyone can participate, regardless of whether you live in Iowa or have ever lived here.
To enter the contest, post your answers to the nine questions enclosed below as comments in this thread before 6 pm Central Standard Time on February 3. Valid entries must be submitted as comments here, where no one can edit them after publication. Predictions sent to me by email or posted on social media will not be considered.
If you don't have a Bleeding Heartland user account, send an email to info AT bleedingheartland.com with the username you want (could be your real name or another handle) and your email address (won't be visible to the public). After I create your account, you'll receive a password for logging in. Then you can comment here or on any other thread. To protect against spammers, your comment will be "pending" until I approve it.
It's fine to change your mind after making your guesses, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before 6 pm on February 3.
No money or prizes are at stake here, just bragging rights. This contest doesn't work like "The Price is Right"; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether they were a little high or low. Even if you have no idea, please try to take a guess on every question.
1. How many Iowans will participate in the Democratic precinct caucuses on February 3?
For reference, the 2004 Democratic caucus turnout was just below 125,000, while 2008 turnout was close to 240,000. About 171,000 people attended Democratic precinct caucuses in 2016.
2. Name all Democratic candidates you expect to win at least 2 percent of the state delegate equivalents and put them in your expected finishing order, starting with the top finisher.
In alphabetical order, the candidates are Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warrren, and Andrew Yang. If you believe "uncommitted" will receive 2 percent or more of the state delegate equivalents, you can put that on your list.
3. For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party will release raw supporter numbers as well as delegate counts. Name all presidential candidates you expect to win support from at least 2 percent of Iowa caucus-goers on the first division into preference groups, and put them in your expected finishing order, starting with the top finisher. If you believe more than 2 percent will stand in the "uncommitted" corner on the first alignment, include that on your list.
4. The Iowa Democratic Party will also release raw supporter numbers for each candidate after realignment, when those who initially supported non-viable candidates will have an opportunity to express a second choice. Name all presidential candidates you expect to win support from at least 2 percent of Iowa caucus-goers after realignment, and put them in your expected finishing order, starting with the top finisher. Again, you can include uncommitted if you want to.
5. How many of Iowa's 99 counties will each candidate carry?
For reference, in 2008 Barack Obama carried 41 counties, John Edwards 29, and Hillary Clinton 25; in four counties, the top two candidates received the same number of delegates. In the 2016 caucuses, Clinton carried 60 counties, Sanders 36, and the candidates tied in three counties.
6. Will the candidate who wins the most state delegate equivalents finish 5 points or more ahead of the second-place candidate, or will the top two finishers be less than 5 points apart?
7. Will the candidate who has the most raw supporters after realignment finish 5 points or more ahead of the second-place candidate, or will the top two finishers be less than 5 points apart?
8. For whom will fourth Congressional district Democratic candidate J.D. Scholten caucus? He told Ben Smith of Buzzfeed news that he won't endorse before February 3, but "If folks really want to come to where I'll be caucusing they can see whom I'm supporting."
9. How many Iowans will participate in the Republican precinct caucuses on February 3? Although President Donald Trump has only token opposition from Joe Walsh and Bill Weld, the Trump campaign and Iowa GOP have been encouraging Republicans to attend their caucuses to express their support for the president. The Iowa Democratic Party claimed that about 25,000 people participated in the 2012 caucuses, when President Barack Obama had no primary opponent.
I will post my own guesses in a comment soon.