The Hill's Campaign Report: Iowa turmoil deepens for Democrats

The Hill's Campaign Report: Iowa turmoil deepens for Democrats
© Greg Nash

Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching this week on the campaign trail. 




For Democratic officials in Iowa already scrambling to remedy lingering issues with the state's presidential caucuses, Thursday brought a new set of challenges. 

The New York Times reported that the caucus results posted by the Iowa Democratic Party were marred by errors and inconsistencies; Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE (I-Vt.) became the second candidate to declare victory in the state, pointing to what he said was his 6,000-vote lead in the "popular initial vote"; and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) called for a recanvassing of the worksheets from each caucus site "in order to ensure public confidence in the results."

All that, and an official winner still hasn't been declared in the state. 

The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) announced on Thursday that it was ready to reexamine the results if any campaign requests a recanvass, a process that would extend the already multi-day reporting setback. 

"Should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection Plan request a recanvass, the IDP is prepared," party Chairman Troy Price said in a statement.

In the meantime, the candidates are looking to New Hampshire, which holds its presidential primary on Tuesday, for clarity on the state of the race. They're crisscrossing the Granite State in hopes of ginning up last-minute support. And a scheduled debate on Friday night will give them one last chance to make their pitch to voters side by side.




DNC chair calls on Iowa Democratic Party to begin recanvass of caucus results, by The Hill's Zach Budryk

Iowa Democratic Party 'prepared' for recanvass if any campaign requests, by The Hill's Rebecca Klar

Sanders claims 'very strong victory' in Iowa, by The Hill's Max Greenwood and John Bowden

Iowa caucus results riddled with errors and inconsistencies, by The New York Times' Nate Cohn, Josh Katz, Denise Lu, Charlie Smart, Ben Smithgall and Andrew Fischer 

The Memo: Iowa caucuses stoke Democratic anxiety, by The Hill's Niall Stanage 

5 takeaways from the early Iowa results, by The Hill's Reid Wilson



RINGING OFF THE HOOK: A spokesperson for the Iowa Democratic Party said on Thursday that an influx of phone calls, including from supporters of President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE, to a hotline used to report caucus tallies contributed to the delay in the results being released. Here's what the spokesperson Mandy McClure told the Des Moines Register: "On Caucus Day, the Iowa Democratic Party experienced an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump. The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party's collection of results, but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported."


READ MORE: Trump fans flooded Iowa caucus hotline, Democrats say, by Bloomberg News' Tyler Pager and Jennifer Epstein

In IDP results call center, fake calls, media inquiries slowed process, by Iowa Starting Line's Pay Rynard


STAFFING MOVES: Former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangTrump seeks split-screen moments in early primary states More accusers come forward after Evelyn Yang breaks silence on alleged assault by OBGYN Sanders leads Biden in latest Nevada poll MORE laid off dozens of staffers this week after partial results from the Iowa caucuses showed him finishing in a distant sixth place, Politico's Eugene Daniels reports. The cuts affected senior-level officials, including national political and policy directors, as well as his deputy national political director. In a statement to The Hill, Yang's campaign manager Zach Graumann said the staff cuts were part of the campaign's "original plans following the Iowa caucuses." "We are winding down our Iowa operations and restructuring to compete as the New Hampshire primary approaches," he said. "These actions are a natural evolution of the campaign post-Iowa, same as other campaigns have undertaken, and Andrew Yang is going to keep fighting for the voices of the more than 400,000 supporters who have donated to the campaign and placed a stake in the future of our country."


UNDER PRESSURE: Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE's lead in the Iowa caucuses – with 97 percent of precincts reporting, he's about one-tenth of percentage point ahead of Sanders – is adding new pressure for the former mayor in New Hampshire, The Hill's Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report. Sanders will still enter the Granite State as the favorite. But New Hampshire Democrats say a top-two or top-three finish for Buttigieg, in which he comes out ahead of his moderate rivals, could be enough to burnish his case as the strongest centrist and best-positioned alternative to Sanders. A top finish in the state could also lend his campaign momentum heading into Nevada and South Carolina, two states that represent less friendly territory for the former mayor. "Another knockout blow to Biden and Bernie in New Hampshire can propel him into Nevada and South Carolina with real momentum and he could start to build a more diverse coalition than what Iowa and New Hampshire offer," Michael Trujillo, a Democratic strategist, said.



Edward Rendell: 7 things the Iowa caucuses taught us, may they rest in peace.


Michael Nelson: Lessons learned from the Iowa caucuses voting app snafu



BIG MONEY: Sanders raised some $25 million in January, his campaign announced on Thursday, marking not only the best single month of fundraising for the Vermont senator's presidential bid, but the best month of fundraising of any candidate. The massive fundraising haul is expected to help fuel Sanders's efforts in Super Tuesday states, The Hill's Justin Wise reports. He's planning to ramp up staffing and expand prior advertising investments in states such as California and Texas. Sanders will also spend more than $5.5 million in TV and digital advertisements in other key primary states that vote on March 3. 





Bernie Sanders: 24 percent (+6)

Pete Buttigieg: 20 percent (+/-0)

Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE: 17 percent (-2)

Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE: 13 percent (-2)

Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Judd Gregg: Bloomberg rising MORE: 9 percent (+3)

Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardWhere the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Sanders leads Biden in latest Nevada poll Yang: NYC should implement universal basic income MORE: 4 percent (+/-0)

Andrew Yang: 4 percent (+1)

Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerWhere the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Klobuchar, Steyer unable to name Mexico's president in pointed interview Sunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk MORE: 3 percent (-1)



Sanders: 25 percent (+3)

Biden: 24 percent (-5)

Bloomberg: 15 percent (+1)

Buttigieg: 12 percent (+5)

Warren: 11 percent (-2)

Yang: 5 percent (+/-0)

Klobuchar: 3 percent (+/-0)

Steyer: 3 percent (+1)



There are 5 days until the New Hampshire primary, 12 days until the Nevada caucuses, 23 days until the South Carolina primary and 26 days until Super Tuesday. 



Vermin Supreme has an important question for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): What are you going to name your pony?

The performance artist and perennial presidential candidate showed up at one of the congresswoman's town halls in New Hampshire on Wednesday night and was given the chance to pose a couple of questions. 

"I have a related question and an unrelated question. My related question is have you ever had the opportunity or the desire to read the Libertarian Party platform? Supreme asked. "And my unrelated question is what are you going to name your pony?"

"My pony?" Gabbard responded. "Are you speaking literally? Oh, that's right, you have the free-pony-for-everyone plan!"

Supreme has become a fixture in New Hampshire presidential politics, appearing every four years to preach a platform of mandatory dental hygiene and a promise of a free pony for every American (you may recognize him from his scruffy beard and the boot he wears for a hat). 

This year, he's running on the Libertarian ticket in New Hampshire. He even won the party's presidential preference poll at its state convention last month. He may be a longshot for the White House, but with the nation's attention focusing in on the Granite State, you're almost certain to see more of him in the coming days.