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Breaking down Caucus day 2020 in Iowa

FILE - In this March 8, 2019 file photo, an audience member arrives at a rally for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. AP photo

After a year of political drama, the first voting contest of the 2020 primary season will be Monday in Iowa.

Posted: Feb 3, 2020 7:20 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Presidential politics move fast. What we're watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign:

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Days to Iowa caucuses: 0

Days to general election: 274

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THE NARRATIVE

The end of the beginning is here. After a year of political drama, the first voting contest of the 2020 primary season will be Monday in Iowa. The kickoff caucuses will bring the first real sense of the clarity to the Democrats' presidential nomination fight. Perhaps. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden appear to be the front-runners, but Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg can't be counted out. And don’t forget about Midwestern favorite Amy Klobuchar. Some expect the candidates to finish locked in a four-way muddle, but, heading into New Hampshire, expect to see some separation within the moderate and progressive lanes. With a primary contest and debate every week this month, things start moving much faster now.

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THE BIG QUESTIONS

Will there be a clear winner?

The Associated Press will declare a winner Monday night based on which candidate earns the most state delegate equivalents. But it may not be so simple. Iowa officials will for the first time announce three separate results: the raw vote totals for the first alignment, the raw vote totals for the second alignment and finally the delegate equivalents. That leaves open the possibility of three separate “winners,” and campaigns tell us they’re prepared to declare victory should they come out on top in any of the categories. Even with the quirky reporting system this year — driven by Sanders — the opportunity is there for one candidate to win all three and leave Iowa as the undisputed front-runner. Of course, it's just as likely Iowa will yield a muddle that could mean a long and messier primary season.

How many tickets out of Iowa?

State Party Chairman Troy Price says a four-passenger car may not be big enough to carry all the candidates who leave Iowa with a legitimate path to the nomination. That's rewriting the longtime trope that there are just three tickets out of Iowa. And we have a hard time envisioning any of the four top-tier candidates getting knocked out of the race altogether. But any candidate who fails to meet the 15% support threshold will have a hard time justifying a place in the contest for much longer.

Will the Midwestern advantage pay?

Monday’s stakes are particularly high for the two Midwestern candidates, Klobuchar and Buttigieg, who have a regional advantage. Both candidates have built a rationale for their candidacies based on the notion they can appeal to voters in key key Midwestern battleground states in a way their rivals cannot. An underwhelming finish in the Midwest, therefore, could be devastating. New England Sens. Sanders and Warren face a similar hometown test when the race pivots to New Hampshire next week.

How does the dynamic change in NH?

The Iowa results will be huge, but the political world will pivot almost immediately to New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. As usual, we'd expect multiple candidates to fly directly to New Hampshire from Iowa almost immediately after the results are announced — even though the State of the Union and the Senate impeachment trial may cause some complications. Don't forget that Sanders begins as the front-runner in the Granite State, having dominated Hillary Clinton there four years ago with a 22 percentage point victory. There will be intense pressure on Warren to hold her own in what could be a race for second place for everyone else. Neither Buttigieg nor Biden can afford a weak finish there. Biden cannot afford a finish there that could undermine his strength in South Carolina.

Is the system rigged?

This is a dangerous moment for anyone who cares about the Democratic Party's ability to come together. Sanders strategist Jeff Weaver resurrected a loaded phrase late last week when he said the Democratic National Committee's decision to change debate qualification rules that open the door for Mike Bloomberg was an example of “a rigged system.” The next day, Clinton again teed off on Sanders during a podcast interview. And hours later, a Sanders surrogate sparked an outcry from the Democratic establishment for booing Clinton. The details are not as important as the broader dynamic in which the fissure between Sanders' supporters and the party's more moderate wing seems to be widening by the day. Democrats will struggle to defeat President Donald Trump if this emotional fight stretches into the spring and summer.

How strong is the state of Trump's union?

Trump may not have a serious primary challenger, but this is still a huge week for the Republican president. On Monday, Trump should get a real sense of the strength of his Democratic competition. He will deliver the State of the Union address on Tuesday. And by the close of business on Wednesday, the Senate could conclude its impeachment trial by acquitting him. While other presidents might move on from impeachment with some sense of humility, it's safe to expect an emboldened Trump to try to use the stain of impeachment as a strength. The question is whether women and disaffected suburban Republicans begin to warm to him as well.

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THE FINAL THOUGHT

We're expecting fireworks in Iowa. With wild swings in polling and multiple candidates teetering on the edge of viability, it's not crazy to think one of the leading candidates might suffer a devastating blow on Monday that could shake up the race. And even if the top four finish in a cluster at the top, this field — it still technically features a dozen candidates — will likely begin to shrink dramatically in the coming days.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 276500

Reported Deaths: 3321
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin590031089
Ramsey24988472
Anoka19724213
Dakota19215176
Washington12538106
Stearns1226689
Scott753854
St. Louis740897
Wright663436
Olmsted610130
Sherburne512539
Clay445155
Carver409712
Blue Earth373511
Rice361431
Kandiyohi348215
Crow Wing316130
Nobles296028
Chisago28398
Otter Tail266615
Benton261940
Winona246128
Mower236722
Polk228621
Douglas219829
Morrison211621
Lyon193711
McLeod18879
Beltrami184615
Goodhue177626
Becker17559
Itasca168924
Steele16756
Todd165312
Isanti165015
Carlton153610
Nicollet146523
Freeborn13935
Mille Lacs132830
Le Sueur13219
Waseca129710
Cass12018
Pine11926
Brown117510
Meeker10797
Roseau9923
Martin98220
Hubbard97022
Wabasha9121
Dodge7850
Redwood78018
Watonwan7754
Chippewa7697
Sibley7094
Renville70818
Cottonwood7060
Wadena7006
Aitkin68923
Pipestone67018
Rock6439
Houston6152
Fillmore6050
Yellow Medicine56611
Pennington5356
Kanabec52911
Murray5283
Swift4976
Pope4820
Faribault4750
Stevens4442
Clearwater4356
Marshall4277
Jackson4091
Lake3584
Unassigned34356
Koochiching3325
Wilkin3275
Lac qui Parle3203
Lincoln3141
Norman3096
Big Stone2771
Mahnomen2494
Grant2346
Red Lake1903
Kittson1856
Traverse1330
Lake of the Woods871
Cook580

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 216579

Reported Deaths: 2240
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk32244325
Linn13583162
Scott1055981
Black Hawk10541131
Woodbury9984116
Johnson920835
Dubuque886590
Story656619
Dallas611456
Pottawattamie589167
Sioux356425
Webster345831
Marshall339244
Cerro Gordo332342
Clinton312337
Buena Vista293514
Muscatine273968
Des Moines270616
Warren264810
Plymouth261938
Wapello244071
Jones225313
Jasper208440
Marion196719
Carroll192621
Lee191716
Bremer187212
Henry17257
Crawford170715
Benton162716
Tama149440
Jackson138511
Delaware137221
Washington135813
Boone130711
Dickinson128510
Mahaska123427
Wright11835
Buchanan11249
Clay10964
Hardin109310
Page10854
Hamilton10477
Clayton10455
Harrison102428
Calhoun10237
Cedar102213
Fayette10008
Mills9977
Floyd98614
Lyon9858
Kossuth9675
Poweshiek95512
Butler9375
Winneshiek91510
Iowa89611
Winnebago88023
Louisa82316
Hancock8217
Grundy81711
Sac8077
Chickasaw8014
Cherokee7814
Cass77221
Appanoose7509
Shelby7346
Allamakee73211
Guthrie72415
Humboldt7205
Mitchell7204
Union7166
Emmet71424
Franklin68820
Madison6614
Jefferson6441
Palo Alto6114
Unassigned5961
Keokuk5537
Pocahontas5442
Howard5089
Greene5070
Osceola5031
Clarke4644
Ida45510
Davis4415
Taylor4352
Montgomery43410
Monroe43112
Adair4218
Monona4032
Fremont3483
Van Buren3434
Worth3410
Lucas3166
Decatur3070
Wayne2896
Audubon2841
Ringgold1902
Adams1551
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