After a year of campaigning, the first result of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries is approaching: Iowa voters will speak on Monday evening in thriller “caucus”, the favourites hoping to consolidate their position of best bulwark against Donald Trump, while that the small candidates hope for a surprise.
Senator Bernie Sanders, narrowly beaten here by Hillary Clinton four years ago, leads the polls in that state and is counting on a victory to take control over Joe Biden, former Barack Obama vice-president, which dominates the race at the national level.
He spent the day visiting the little hands of his countryside, for example bringing pizza to a room in Des Moines, the capital. “It will be fine,” he said, accompanied by some of his granddaughters.
This small rural state, snowy at this time of year, has started the primary season since the 1970s. It is important because it is the first: the number of delegates at stake is negligible, but a good result or underperformance can change the dynamics of a bid.
Out of eleven candidates still running for the nomination, the five best placed here are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, young ex-mayor Pete Buttigieg, progressive senator Elizabeth Warren, and a little further in the voting intentions, but very present on the ground, moderate Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Iowa’s vote will not be by secret ballot, but at meetings of voters, called “caucuses,” which will begin at 7:00 p.m. In approximately 1,700 halls (schools, gymnasiums, etc.), often in a certain tumult, the voters will regroup physically under the banner of the candidate of their choice, and one will count each group.
A complication that makes forecasts difficult: supporters of candidates who do not get 15% in the first round can join another candidate in a second round, which generates all kinds of speculation behind the scenes.
For months, candidates and voters have been calling above all to “beat Trump” on November 3.
The billionaire is all the more present in this primary as his acquittal looms in Washington, during the final vote of his dismissal trial Wednesday in the Senate. Three of the candidates are also senators and had to return to Washington Monday for several hours.
The president, who also goes through primaries for form, does not hesitate to comment, often mocking, the state of the race between his potential rivals.
“I have little nicknames for each of them,” said Donald Trump on Sunday on Fox News. Sanders? “A communist”. Biden? “Joe asleep”. As for Warren, she doesn’t “know how to tell the truth”.
Who will beat Trump?
“For the past year, all of us have been trying to prove that we are best able to beat Donald Trump,” Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Monday morning. “This forces us to demonstrate that we are able to mobilize people, to obtain the support of voters. This process begins here in Iowa. ”
Bernie Sanders draws on minorities and young people, the generation “the most progressive in the history of this country”, he proclaims.
“Get out there and knock on the doors,” he urged, knowing that young people tend to participate less in “caucuses” than older voters.
His supporters refute the idea that his socialist label and his promise of a “political revolution” would stand in the way of a victory in November.
Whether the candidates are old, like him and Joe Biden (77), or newcomers, like Pete Buttigieg, 38, their message to the Democratic base is that they are each most likely to deprive the Republican of a second term.
Joe Biden plays the card of experience and national reconciliation.
“I am the only one to have broad support among the” browns “(Latinos, Indians, Middle Easterners, Editor’s note), the blacks, young, old, women, men, working-class”, he said on NBC.
“Who will be ready from the first day to pick up the phone to call any world leader?” Asked the man who accompanied Barack Obama for eight years at the White House.
Like Pete Buttigieg, candidate Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who popped up out of nowhere in this campaign, explicitly woo Republican voters, including those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Other candidates include billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, and another billionaire, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who overlooks Iowa and focuses on later voting states that bring in many delegates. view of the nomination.
Almost half of the voters said they were still undecided last week. “The only question I have is, who’s going to win” against Trump, says voter, 67-year-old Kim Robinson.