Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2020 Iowa caucus prediction contest

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.

  • Caucus Guesses

    1. 250,000
    2. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang, Uncommitted.
    3. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang, Uncommitted, Michael Bennett.
    4. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Uncommitted.
    5. Bernie- 25, Warren- 20, Buttigieg- 20, Biden- 19, Klobuchar- 15
    6. Less than five points
    7. Less than five points
    8. Pete Buttigieg
    9. 34,000

  • Caucus Conjectures and Election Exhortations

    1. 280,000, with an increase over 2008 disproportionately in college precincts and among millennials.

    2. Biden 28 percent; Warren 23 percent; Sanders 22 percent; Buttigieg 12 percent; Klobuchar, 9 percent; uncommitted 4 percent. My view is the delegate count (electoral college) overweights rural and older precincts.

    3. A muddle — Sanders and Biden and Warren 21 percent; Buttigieg 15 percent; Klobuchar 12 percent; Yang 4 percent; Steyer 2 percent; uncommitted 3 percent; other 1 percent. This is the popular vote. In 2016, while it wasn’t reported by the Iowa Democratic party (and rightfully so, according to the rules), I think the results would have shown Sanders at 48 percent, Clinton at 46 percent, and O’Malley at 5 percent. This could have changed the course of that primary election! The difference between 2 and 3 may also result in a confused (and therefore less relevant) Iowa picture and national reporting suggesting that Iowans do not know what they are doing (which, of course, we do, and Mark Shields is spot on about). The absence of an Iowa/NH makes campaign strategies (using money) like Mike Bloomberg’s much more probable.

    4, Warren at 25 percent; Biden at 25 percent; Sanders at 21 percent; Buttigieg at 14 percent; Klobuchar at 10 percent; and uncommitted at 3 percent. See why it could be a muddle?

    5. Delegate or popular vote one or popular vote after realignment? Biden — 46; Warren — 23; Sanders — 21; Klobuchar — 6; Buttegieg — 3.

    6. Yes.

    7. No.

    8. I hope Warren. My guess is Klobuchar and, if necessary, moving to Biden.

    9. Interesting — and how many of the Trump party and how many of the not-Trump party? If one thinks there are divides among the D’s, there are much greater hidden divides among the R’s. My answer is 25,000.

    I support Elizabeth Warren so I probably have done this with a guardedly optimistic estimate of her vote. I think she is a good second choice between the old white guy establishment-establishment candidate Biden and the old white guy establishment-anti-establishment candidate Sanders — and would be a better candidate and President than either. There is no and never will be a perfect Presidential candidate — it is up to us (the electorate that values diversity, inclusion, compassion, and commitment to stewardship and vision on the part of candidates) to ensure that there is a political and policy movement that creates political will so our leaders will actually tackle the “existential” issues facing us — money and power in the hands of the few, global climate change, and inequity and blocked opportunity for those at the bottom and now middle of our society, with particular consequences to the healthy development of the next generation. Herbert Hoover said, “Blessed are the young; for they shall inherit the national debt.” They will inherit a lot more than that unless we elect leaders who tackle the tough challenges and embrace those of the next generations in fashioning solutions.

  • Well said

    I am Klobuchar first alignment, Warren if necessary on the second, but I agree with much of what you said in your concluding paragraph.

  • My predictions

    1. 236,000
    2. Biden, Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, Buttigieg
    3. Sanders, Biden, Warren, Klobuchar, Buttigieg
    4. Biden, Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, Buttigieg
    5. Biden 39; Warren 26; Sanders 24; Klobuchar 4; Buttigieg 1; tied 5
    6. Under 5%
    7. Under 5%
    8 Klobuchar
    9. 32,000

  • Warren wins the expectations game ...

    1) 189,525
    2) undecided, Warren, Biden, Sanders, Klobuchar
    3) Biden, Sanders, Warren, undecided
    4) Sanders, Warren, Biden, undecided, Klobuchar, Buttigieg
    5) Sanders (22), Warren (20), Biden (18), Klobuchar (5), undecided (1)
    6) Sanders and Warren within 2.5 points
    7) same
    8) Warren
    9) 33.250

  • The Senate Race

    Since the more important race in Iowa this year is the Senate race, how about this quiz question: Which of the Democrats seeking to run against Ernst is making the most of the caucuses to raise their own profile? So far I have heard nothing from any of them in this county–no signs, no surrogates, no literature. A missed opportunity. Maybe they will do better by county convention time, albeit to a much smaller audience.

    • I think it's been hard

      for them with the caucuses sucking up all the oxygen. I expect the Senate primary race to kick into high gear in the next month.

  • My Guesses

    1. 272,000

    2. Biden, Warren, Sanders, Pete, Klobuchar, Uncommitted

    3. Sanders, Biden, Warren, Pete, Klobuchar, Uncommitted

    4. Sanders, Warren, Biden, Pete, Klobuchar

    5. Biden 46, Warren 27, Sanders 23, Pete 3

    6 under

    7. Under

    8. Sanders

    9. 37,500

  • My guess

    1. 262,000
    2. Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar
    3. Sanders, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar
    4.Same as 3
    5. Sanders 43, Biden 31, Buttigieg 19, Warren the rest
    6 Less than 5
    7. More than 5 (I believe Sanders gets squeezed in re-alignment)
    8 Warren
    9 27,000

  • my guesses

    1. Total turnout: 265,000

    2. State delegate equivalents: Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg

    3. Raw votes on first alignment: Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang, Steyer, uncommitted

    4. After realignment: Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar

    5. Sanders 35 counties, Biden 30 counties, Warren 20 counties, Buttigieg 5 counties, ties in 9 counties

    6. Sanders by less than 5 in state delegate equivalents

    7. Sanders by more than 5 in the raw numbers

    8. Scholten will go for Warren because of her strong plans for rural revitalization and breaking up monpolies

    9. Republican turnout statewide: 20,000

  • .

    Surprised to see so many people predicting a Biden win. Doesn’t seem likely at all at this point.

  • Whos the Winner and What Did J.D. Do?

    So who’s the winner (not me). Either Laura or John Webb in my book — he left out Buttigieg but was much closer in actual turnout. For Iowa, I think there are two big findings — (1) Joe Biden has only name recognition support, really, and (2) we don’t yet evidence the same energy as in 2012 — so we better unite.
    I am still interested in how J.D. went — our three sitting members all went for Biden along with recognized leaders Vilsack and Gronstal; Hubbell went for Bloomberg and then Biden.
    I would like to have a discussion of “philanthropcapitalism” and the elections. Gates, Bezos, Buffett, Zuckerberg, and Soros may all be Democrats — but why should they decide how to invest in our future, particularly in the policy arena. They may be atoning for their aggregating of wealth, but they also have a certain vested interest in capitalist accumulation. Better to have the money be invested on a more democratic and representative basis. And, of course, these are the “good” philanthrocapitalists. What about the Kochs, Abelsons, and De Vos’s seeking to impose their radical libertarian capitalism on us. I think the Hubbell’s support of Bloomberg on the first ballot is indicative of a philanthrocapitalist perspective that ultimately is not beneficial for democracy.
    So what about J.D. in his caucus?

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.