Early entrance poll estimates suggest 4-way race

Iowa caucuses live updates: Early entrance poll estimates suggest 4-way race originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

For more than a year, the Democratic presidential contenders have been camping out in Iowa, pitching their case to the first-in-the-nation caucusgoers for why they should be the party’s nominee in July.

From campaign stops to house parties to rallies in every corner of the state and across Iowa’s 99 counties, the candidates took to the stump to outline their vision for the country, rebuke President Trump, call for party unity, and make subtle contrasts with their rivals all in the hopes of persuading some of the most coveted primary voters to back their campaign.

But now with caucus day here, the highly-competitive race is entering an even more critical phase: regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Monday’s caucuses, a winnowed field could emerge from the Hawkeye State — underscoring the pressure on the candidates to excel in the first contest out of the gate.

Here’s how the night is unfolding:

9:12 p.m. Plenty of miles on those campaign buses

Democratic candidates crisscrossed Iowa leading up to the caucuses, making nearly 400 stops collectively, with more than 330 days spent in the Hawkeye State while holding more than 2,300 events.

9:06 p.m. Navigating the Iowa caucuses as a voter with disabilities can be tough

Unlike a primary where voters cast traditional ballots from home or in a booth, the Iowa caucuses require voters to show up in person, talk with their neighbors and wait to be counted. Everyone in favor of one candidate moves to one corner — those who like someone else — stand across the room.

There is debate and regrouping through multiple stages. It can take hours.

“When you have chronic pain and fatigue, that’s not particularly fun. And I’m worried most about all the people who don’t caucus because of barriers like that.” Smith said that last year it took over an hour to get to the caucus site from work because of limited transportation — a physically exhausting endeavor by the end of the night,” Emmanuel Smith, a local advocate for Americans living with disabilities told ABC News.

Read more here.

8:57 p.m. Iowa caucuses considered a ‘crucible’ of 2020 primary: Here’s how they work

Confused by the rushing to and fro and raised hand counting underway in the caucuses? Here is what you need to know about the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

8:54 p.m. ABC News FiveThirtyEight weighs in on the Iowa counties to watch

FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich speaks with Galen Druke about which counties are the ones to watch as Iowa caucus results come in.

8: 52.p.m. More preliminary results from the Iowa Democratic caucus entrance poll

Biden plummets in two particular groups: First, among younger voters – he has single-digit support among caucus-goers younger than 45. The second: Voters focused on a candidate who’s closest to them on the issues. While this group represents a minority of participants, just 6 percent of them back Biden in their initial preference. Further, Biden does especially well among those focused on foreign policy – but it’s last on the issues list.

Buttigieg’s cross-group appeal is evident in the issues list: His support levels are about the same among caucus-goers focused on health care, climate change and foreign policy alike, albeit dropping off among those most concerned with income inequality. Sanders also does well across three issues, in his case income inequality, climate change and health care, with a drop-off among foreign policy voters. Warren does her best among those focused on income inequality.

ABC News’ pollster Gary Langer.

8:29 p.m. Amid concerns about lack of diversity in early contests, 91% in tonight’s caucuses are white

Another result marks the comparative lack of racial or ethnic diversity among Iowa caucus-goers, compared with Democrats elsewhere. Ninety-one percent in tonight’s caucuses are white.

While the top tier jockeys for the top spot in the Iowa caucuses, the state is contending with challenges of its own over its outsize influence on the primary race and its homogeneous population that doesn’t reflect the diversity of the Democratic Party or much of the rest of the country.

In 1976, four years after the state claimed it’s position at the front of the calendar, then-candidate Jimmy Carter, an underdog in the presidential contest, snagged a surprise victory in Iowa — putting his upstart campaign on a track to the nomination and setting the state on a course to become a marquee primary contest. Carter’s victory soon became a model for ensuing presidential hopefuls who could seek to capitalize on the first-in-the-nation caucuses and catapult their campaign to notoriety.

PHOTO:In this Jan. 26, 2020, file photo, people cheer as democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa. (John Locher/AP, FILE)

But throughout the 2020 contest, which encompassed the most diverse Democratic field at its peak of candidates, Iowa has often been the target of criticism — even by some presidential contenders — for its lack of representation and diversity. The state is 91% white, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

But still, Iowa Democrats continue to defend the state’s premier status and argue that it is diverse enough.

“Listen, I can’t change the demographics of the state of Iowa. But what I can say is that by the nature of this process and helps elevate voices in a way that you don’t see in a primary,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price told reporters Friday. “We do have diversity here in the state and because of the caucus process, it is able to lift those voices up.”

8:23 p.m. ABC News projects that President Donald Trump will win the Iowa Republican Caucuses.

Based on an analysis of the vote in so far, ABC News projects that Donald Trump will win the Iowa Republican Caucuses.

8:03 p.m. Liberals appear to dominate so far, preliminary ABC News exit poll results find

Liberals dominate in tonight’s Iowa Democratic caucuses, preliminary ABC News entrance poll results find – but ideology only goes so far: Far more caucus-goers are focused on defeating Donald Trump than on the candidate closest to them on the issues.

Sixty-seven percent of caucus goers identify themselves as liberals, nearly matching the record high in the 2016 entrance poll. At the same time, caucus-goers by 62-36% also say they’d rather see the party nominate the candidate with the best chance of winning in November than the one who “agrees with you on major issues.”

On one hotly debated issue, 60% support a single, government-run health insurance plan – an approach backed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – vs. 36% opposed. Candidate support follows, with better results for Sanders and Warren along among single-payer supporters than opponents.

Whatever that policy preference, health care is by far the top issue out of four that were tested in the entrance poll. Forty-one percent of Democratic caucus participants call health care the most important issue in their choice; of the rest, 21% t pick climate change; 17%, income inequality; and 14%, foreign policy.

Political independents account for two in 10 caucus-goers, on target with past years. There are fewer first-time caucus attendees – 35%, vs. 44% in 2016 and even more, a record 57%, in 2008.

Among other groups, both younger and older caucus-goers are of interest, given their stark divergence in 2016 and in polling this year as well, with far stronger support for Sanders among younger voters. In preliminary results tonight, 42% of caucus-goers are younger than 45, about half of them under 30 – both similar to four years ago. Across the age spectrum, 30% are seniors in these preliminary results – again similar to 2016, and a strong group for Joe Biden.

Demonstrating the greater challenges marshaling support in a crowded race, Sanders’ support among participants younger than 30 is running at about 50% tonight, vs. 84%in 2016. He’s also fallen off sharply among 30- to 44-year-olds. That said, Hillary Clinton won 69% of seniors in 2016; Biden is winning half as many tonight.

The entrance poll asked whom tonight’s caucus-goers backed in 2016: Fifty-six percent say Clinton, 30 percent Sanders and 14% someone else. Clinton and Sanders virtually tied four years ago. In this more crowded race, Sanders retains support from more than half of his 2016 backers this year.

Indicating fluidity in the closing days of the campaign, a third of caucus participants say they finally picked their candidate today or in the last few days – about twice as many as said so in 2016, 16%.

While Sanders and Warren do well in initial preference among supporters of a single-payer health care system, opponents of the idea go in another direction, more for Biden and Pete Buttigieg. Sanders is especially popular among “very” liberal” caucusgoers, trailed by Warren, while moderates go more for Biden and Buttigieg. Compared with other candidates, Buttigieg’s support is distributed most evenly among groups.

The entrance poll measures preferences among caucus-goers as they enter the caucuses. The state party will report these results, as well as results after those backing low-performing candidates get a second pick, in addition to, ultimately, final results based on convention delegate allocations

ABC News’ pollster Gary Langer.

8:03 p.m. Early entrance poll estimates suggest 4-way race

Based on early entrance poll estimates, it looks like a four-person race so far between Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in initial preferences.

What to know about tonight: Iowa caucuses kick off 2020 race to the White House

PHOTO: Signage for the Iowa Caucuses hang in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 25, 2020. (AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Signage for the Iowa Caucuses hang in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 25, 2020. (AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

In the last few weeks, most of the Democratic field — aside from the four senators stuck inside the U.S. Senate chamber for Trump’s impeachment trial — have hunkered down in Iowa, making their strongest and most forceful play for caucusgoers, even if it means sharpening their attacks on each other.

(MORE: Inside the tiny Iowa community with an immigration politics paradox)

The candidates’ closing arguments, which are often threaded into their stump speeches and echoed in TV and digital ads, all center on a refined answer to the question of electability and also show the nuanced differences between the presidential hopefuls, particularly the top tier.

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