The four different ways of determining the results
We all know that tonight’s Iowa caucuses are a unique form of election and are highly complicated. That perception could be even more the case tonight when it comes to working out the winner.
There are FOUR different “results” that we are likely to hear and each could have a different contender in top place.
THE FIRST is the initial count at each caucus centre on which contender those attending and satisfying all the rules attending the caucus opt for. These will be aggregated state-wide and figures regularly updated as different precincts file their numbers. After that, of course, at each of the1600+ caucus centres those who are not backing someone who has 15%+ votes have to decide which other nominee they would like to support.
THE SECOND “result” will be the vote count after the re-alignment has taken place and we could see a marked difference if the top person on the first calculation is less “transfer friendly” as the polls suggest Sanders is.
THE THIRD count relates to the number of delegates for each contender that will go forward to the state conference that will determine how the Iowa delegation will vote at the national nominating convention in Milwaukee in the summer.
THE FOURTH will be the projected split of Iowa at the national convention.
This presents a problem for the UK bookies and punters. Ladbrokes is going for the second option, the aligned vote totals, in settling its Iowa winner bets while Betfair will be settled on the delegates elected to the state conference. This is in line with the approach that the New York Times has announced it will follow in deciding who has won.
Given that this is all about choosing who should be the nominee then the New York Times approach looks correct. The first count has no impact on the overall choice of nominee while the second and third options could produce different outcomes.
So much tonight depends on the organisation and the work that has been put in over the months by each of the campaigns. It is reckoned that Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have the best operations but we will have to see what happens
My guess based on what we know of the campaigns and the polling is that Bernie will be top of the first calculation and no doubt will seek to claim victory if the other measures don’t have the 78 year old on top. For whether this remains for the second is hard to say. Certainly he looks a lot less transfer friendly and there is a view amongst many in the party that he and his supporters played a big part in ensuring that Donald Trump became president in 2016 by not getting fully behind Clinton once the nomination was settled.