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Okay folks, we’re shutting down the live blog. The Democratic race remains unresolved with 12 precincts yet to be counted. It is unclear when we will get those results. For now, Hillary Clinton maintains a 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent lead over Bernie Sanders in state delegate equivalents. For all intents and purposes, the race is basically a tie. We’ll have more analysis as to what that means, as well as the implications of Ted Cruz’s victory over Donald Trump — and the strong third place finish for Marco Rubio — over the next few days.
Thanks for sticking with us!
We’re now up to 99 percent of precincts reporting on the Democratic side in Iowa, and Clinton still holds a 0.2-percentage-point lead.
Technical details: Before Iowa votes, the model uses projected Iowa results as a component in its forecasts for New Hampshire. Once Iowa votes, we replace it with actual Iowa results. The actual results in Iowa weren’t that far off from our forecasts there, however, since our model correctly had Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio projected to overperform the polls and Donald Trump projected to underperform his, along with a close margin on the Democratic side.
tl;dr: The model mostly takes a wait-and-see approach. Sanders is clearly in very good shape in New Hampshire. Things could be much more volatile on the Republican side, so we’ll eagerly await new polls and endorsements.
Dear readers, we’re still waiting for the final few precincts, but the Democratic race in Iowa seems unlikely to be called tonight. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton’s up 49.9 percent to 49.6.
There’s been some talk about coin tosses going against Sanders to settle who would get a delegate in the case of a tie. These ties are not for statewide delegate equivalents. They are for county delegates. Those are different, and not nearly as big a deal.
One of the things that the talking heads are trying to figure out is why Clinton decided to declare victory, if in fact, that’s what she did, since her victory speech never actually said she won (which is very lawyerly of her!). It’s looking like this is still going to be a long night counting these votes on the Democratic side — there were a couple of counting errors that needed to be corrected, apparently.
Was Clinton’s declaration of victory (if it happened) strategic, a way to get ahead of the narrative? Was it a screw-up on the inside of the campaign — did the Clinton camp think they were up by more? Chuck Todd said — rather incredulously — “I just don’t understand why the Clinton campaign decided to do what they did. … They have now made it that much worse if they lose or if it’s a tie.”
Another reason why whoever is declared the “winner” of tonight’s Democratic caucuses is as much a matter of spin as anything else: Iowa doesn’t report votes, but instead something called “state delegate equivalents.” It’s possible that more people caucused for Sanders tonight but that Clinton will win more state delegate equivalents because her vote was distributed more evenly. Then again, Clinton did lead in the Iowa entrance polls. Without an actual vote count from Iowa, we’ll never know.
Cruz bragged that his average donation was $67. Sanders says his was $27. Will this — from both sides — be the rhetoric of 2016?
I want to point out that Clinton continues to hold a 0.4 percentage point lead — and which county has the most votes out? It’s still Polk. Sanders hasn’t led statewide this entire night, and the state delegate equivalent percentage difference between the two really hasn’t shifted in a while.
It’s ironic that Obama has been called a socialist so often in casual political discourse but that Sanders — a self-proclaimed socialist — has done well (regardless of whether he wins) in tonight’s caucuses. That does not speak to whether he can win, or will have the opportunity to compete in, a general election. But in a two-party system, Sanders spent years in the Senate as an independent, already breaking format with American politics. Now a Democrat again, Sanders seems prepared to raise enough funds and get enough support to last to the convention at the very least, if he so chooses. And that, too, may lead to platform-issue horse-trading on the floor of the Democratic convention, even if Sanders is not the party’s nominee.
Here are two tweets from Joe Lenski of Edison Research:
So it turns out that there can be recounts of sorts in even Democratic caucuses.
An interesting strategic consideration for Ted Cruz (inspired by Ed Morrissey’s tweet): How much effort does he want to spend to win New Hampshire? And if he doesn’t expect to win himself, who’s he going to be rooting for? If Marco Rubio surged to victory in the Granite State, that might be pretty bad for Cruz, as the GOP campaign would begin to resemble a fairly conventional nomination race in which Cruz plays the role of a runner-up like Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee. A Trump win, conversely, would leave the “establishment lane” divided but also restore momentum to Trump heading into a set of Southern states that Cruz would hope to win.
Clinton’s margin is back down to 0.2 percentage points, but still plenty of Polk County still out.
Remarkably, it looks like Rubio may end up winning five of Iowa’s 10 largest counties, and ZERO of Iowa’s other 89 counties. Yet this urban coalition may be his blueprint for victory nationally.
The fact that there are three fascinating stories coming out on the Republican side tonight — Cruz winning, Rubio rising and Trump failing — is a little bit of a blessing for Hillary Clinton. Even on MSNBC, with its Democratic-leaning viewership, the Republican race has been the lead story for most of the night, instead of how close Bernie Sanders has kept pace with her.
Ted Cruz started his victory speech with a loooooong hug for his wife, Heidi, who’s been a tireless surrogate for Cruz and whose employer, Goldman Sachs, gave the couple a controversial campaign loan that caused more than a little bit of a stir these past couple of weeks. “Tonight is a victory for the grassroots,” Cruz said, a nod to the extensive ground operation that I wrote about a few weeks ago. “The next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment, will not be chosen by the lobbyists but will be chosen by the most incredibly powerful force where all of our sovereign power resides … the people.”
Heads up, New Hampshire residents … you will be receiving your VOTER VIOLATION in the mail shortly.
I’ll defend Ann Selzer here, Clare! Her poll had Trump leading Cruz by 5 points, and it looks like Cruz will win by 3 points instead. That’s an 8-point error. Which sounds really bad, until you consider that polling primaries and caucuses is really tough. The average error in a primary or caucus poll is 8 points, in fact. Plus, it looks like there was some late-breaking movement toward Rubio and Cruz that her poll wasn’t in the field late enough to pick up. It won’t be a poll she brags about, and perhaps it’s an argument for keeping a tracking poll in the field until the very last day of campaigning. But all of this is fairly par for the course.
Latest: 92 percent of precincts in and Clinton lead has expanded to 0.85 or so percentage points.
Reminder that as the results are so close in the Democratic race tonight, the vote count is preliminary! Everything we’re seeing tonight is being reported from the Microsoft app, but the counts are being recorded on old-fashioned paper forms as well (to account for possible issues like the aforementioned precinct chair’s phone that died), and it’ll be a few days before we get the official results from those.