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Joe Biden and Kamala Harris speeches: Election 2020 live updates

A sign advertises the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. The speaker list for the convention has been scaled back significantly after the coronavirus forced Democratic planners to scrap plans for an in-person event in Milwaukee and shrink most of the live programming to two hours each night from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET. Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, is set to accept the party’s nomination and deliver his acceptance speech next Thursday during the Democratic National Convention held in a virtual setting. Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is expected to do the same a night earlier.

The Democratic National Convention Committee on Tuesday announced its speaker line-up for the convention, unveiling a list that includes both Barack and Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and a host of women Biden had considered as his running mate.

The speaker list for the convention has been scaled back significantly after coronavirus forced Democratic planners to scrap plans for an in-person event in Milwaukee and shrink most of the live programming to two hours each night from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET.

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will headline the first two nights of the convention, and Harris, along with former President Barack Obama, are expected to deliver the keynote Wednesday evening. Biden, introduced by his family, will accept the nomination on Thursday night.

The list of speakers from the four-night event aims to represent the ideological diversity inside the Democratic Party, with representatives from the party’s left like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking, along with more moderate members of the party like vulnerable Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar each getting key speaking slots.

Monday’s speaker line-up features the broadest representation of Joe Biden’s supporters across the Democratic spectrum, from Sanders, a leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to Klobuchar, his one-time primary opponent. Former Gov. John Kasich, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, is also slated to speak on the same evening.

Neither Biden nor Harris will travel to Milwaukee, the original convention site, due to safety concerns related to Covid-19. Instead, Biden will accept the nomination from Delaware.

Read more about the DNC line-up here.

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2020 election state polls suggest Joe Biden has a clear national lead

What’s the point: One of the big questions when we look at national polls is whether or not they’re an accurate representation of what is going on at the state level. One of the easiest ways to check is to compare state poll results to the past presidential vote in a given state. I did so for all telephone polls that called cell phones since the beginning of April.
When we average out these state polls, they suggest that Biden’s running about 6 points ahead of Hillary Clinton’s final margin.

In other words, the state level polls suggest that Biden has a national lead of around 8 points.

That’s actually a little greater than the 6.6 points Biden has in the high quality national polling average taken during the same period. I should note that if we weight the average of state polls to each state’s population, we get a margin just north of that 6.6 point mark. (Weighting by population leaves us somewhat more susceptible to outlier polls, as we have fewer polls from the most populated states.)

EIther way, all methods agree that Biden has a fairly sizable national advantage.

Examining the state polls has the advantage of having a lot more data points to play with, so I feel fairly secure that they’re giving us a decent snapshot. We’re looking at more than 20 polls and more than 15,000 interviews. The aggregate margin of error is small.

Additionally, we can look at states we expect to be at least somewhat competitive (i.e. those where the margin was within 10 points last time) and those that we don’t think will be close in 2020.

In the competitive states (where most of the state polling has been conducted), there has been an average swing of 6 points toward Biden compared to Clinton’s 2016 result. The same is true in the non-competitive states.

At least from this state level data, it does not seem that either candidate is running up the score disproportionately in areas that were already friendly to him.

Biden has posted leads of greater than 5 points in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania. He is ahead in more than enough states to capture 270 electoral votes, if the election were held today.

We can test our data, too, to see what would happen if the polls are underestimating Trump like they did in 2016.

What I found was Biden would still be ahead, even with a 2016 sized mishap.

The polls underestimated Trump by 1 point (RealClearPolitics) or 2 points (FiveThirtyEight) in the aggregate of the states we currently have polling from. Applying that 2016 bias to our current data, Biden would have a 6- to 7-point lead nationally.

Concentrating on just the competitive states, the polls undersold Trump by 2 points (RealClearPolitics) or 3 points (FiveThirtyEight). If the polls in the competitive states were off by as much as they were at the end in 2016, Biden would still be ahead in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Of course, it may not be wise to expect a 2016-sized polling era in 2020. The polls in these states that had major statewide contests in 2018 were pretty much unbiased. No matter what set of states (all or just competitive) and which aggregate, the polls were not more favorable to Republicans than the final result.
In a state like Wisconsin, the final 2018 Marquette poll nailed the final Senate margin and underestimated the Democratic candidate for governor’s margin by 1 point.

The bottom line is Biden’s ahead right now nationally and in the competitive states. The good news for Trump is he has about six months to change the course of the campaign, which is more than enough time to do so.

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Republicans Accuse Democrats of Trying to Deviate Cliffhanger California Special Election

Republicans in California could potentially pull off a feat that’s rarely seen in this day and age, and that’s to flip a Congressional district from blue to red in the Sunshine State. The 25th District is close in private polls for a special election to fill the vacated seat of former Rep. Katie Hill, but not a foregone conclusion in the long run for Democrats.

Democrats believe state assemblywoman Christy Smith could lose the upcoming election, but being on the ballot during November’s General Election—with presidential nominees on the ballot—could refill the seat with a large turnout at the ballots.

“We don’t underestimate how much of a Republican-leaning district this could be in May, but that will be a different electorate in November,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said on “We don’t get in this to lose a race, but I do think that in November, Christy will be successful.”

Winning the war is the ultimate goal for Democrats, but seemingly winning the battle right now is former Naval aviator Mike Garcia, 44, who has gotten a jolt of energy from Republicans in the northern L.A. suburbs.

This energy comes despite Hillary Clinton winning the suburbs north of Los Angeles in 2016 and current president Donald Trump trailing Democratic opponents in most polls heading into the 2020 presidential election.

The 25th District, and most of the region north of Los Angeles, is older and not as diverse as L.A. and its suburbs and inner city, which leads to a 9- to 10-point possible swing in May’s special election.

“It is not a unique district. It is similar to many of the districts that we won in the fall,” a Democratic consultant told “This was an anti-Trump response district, and if we’re ebbing in those districts we need to find out why. We can’t just brush it off.”

Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. House Democrats unveiled new letters to the Attorney General, HHS Secretary, and the White House demanding the production of documents related to Americans health care in the Texas v. United States lawsuit. Also pictured is House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV).
Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Democrats are expectingly thinking they will lose the seat in May, only to win it back by an invigorating voter base in November when the seat is on the ballot again, this time with a presidential race in the balance.

“I think that’s why a lot of groups are kind of pushing the pause button,” Aguilar said. “And I think it’s a realization that the dynamics in this race in November are going to just be very different and lean our way significantly.”

This means the Democrats could wittingly let its Congressional seat fall to the wayside for half a year in order to regain it for another two years—at the minimum.

Hill resigned after there were reports she had inappropriate sexual affairs with staff members.

The special election for Hill’s vacated seat will be May 12, 2020.

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2020 election: Joe Biden’s South Carolina rout sends a warning to Bernie Sanders

Biden’s resilience cemented the core ideological struggle at the center of this year’s Democratic primary. After four contests, Sanders is rising on a coalition of young, liberal voters, energized by rising support among Hispanics. Biden now vaults to the top of a more racially diverse, older and moderate wing of the party, after struggling to power up a campaign that looked stronger in theory than practice.

The issue for Democratic leaders is that, to beat Trump, both wings of the divided party must unite and there is little sign that any candidate can appeal to both sides at the same time. That raises the possibility of an extended Democratic delegate duel that splits the party on race, ideology and age — and preserves the chance of a contested convention in July.

Biden has been running for president on-and-off for 33 years, but never celebrated a winning night until Saturday’s thumping 30-point victory in a primary candidates have used in previous cycles to launch themselves towards the nomination.

In his victory speech, perhaps for the first time, he effectively conflated the agonies of his own life — after burying a young wife and two children, suffering a life-threatening brain aneurysm and flaming out in two previous White House campaigns — with a party and a nation he believes have been battered by a mendacious president.

“For all those of you who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind — this is your campaign,” Biden declared.

“We’re decent. We’re brave, we’re resilient people. We can believe again. We’re better than this, we’re better than this president. So, get up, take back our country. This is the United States of America.”

Biden’s victory, half a lifetime in arriving, emphatically answered a question raised by poor showings in the early states: would his firewall with African American voters survive?

It did. And now the party must endure what could be an elongated battle for the future of the party fought by two septuagenarians.

Sanders: ‘You can’t win them all’

Sanders ruefully conceded defeat, but with a favorable slate of races looming on Tuesday he appears well placed to advance his “revolution” that threatens to overtake the Democratic Party.

“You can’t win them all,” Sanders said, of the South Carolina result, after heading to Virginia, a Super Tuesday state.

“There are a lot of states in this country, nobody wins them all.”

On Super Tuesday, Sanders will be favored in some of the biggest prizes, in populist states like California and Texas, and is tipped to perform well in liberal Massachusetts and Minnesota — home to two of the race’s remaining candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, respectively.

Biden, who constantly touts his role as Barack Obama’s vice president, will hope to vault from a win in South Carolina into other states where black voters play a key role, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas.

But time is short for the 77-year-old former Delaware senator to capitalize on post-South Carolina momentum. He is sure to get a big fundraising boost — but will struggle to place advertising before 14 states and one territory vote on Tuesday.

And there remain questions about his capacity to put together a firing-on-all-cylinders campaign and fundraising infrastructure to compete with Sanders nationwide, small donor political movement.

Sanders still looks favored to emerge from Super Tuesday with a significant lead in delegates, which could be difficult to overhaul even if Biden can unite moderates, given the Democratic system of proportionally awarding delegates.

The former vice president will hope to establish himself as the only possible alternative to Sanders. And he will hope that his big win in South Carolina sends a signal to moderate voters that he — and not former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has dropped half a billion dollars on the race and faces his first voters on Tuesday — is the only viable alternative to Sanders.

Biden: America doesn’t want a revolution

Biden took direct aim at Sanders in his victory speech, arguing that America would reject his radical democratic socialist approach that Biden said would not be able to deliver on big promises.

“Folks, win big or lose, that’s the choice. Most Americans don’t want the promises of revolution. They want more than promises. They want results,” Biden said.

While the overall momentum and the map on Tuesday appears to favor Sanders, there were warning signs in South Carolina.

For all the talk that he has broadened his coalition four years on from his loss to Hillary Clinton, he won only one in five black voters — a critical demographic in November. Four years ago, Sanders won 14% of African Americans in the state, according to exit polls. It also remains unclear whether Sanders has strong appeal among moderates — and whether, faced with four more years of Trump, he could unite the party around him as nominee.

Intense pressure will now mount on other centrists like Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to wrap their campaigns to avoid siphoning delegates away from Biden in a way that bolsters Sanders.

Former Democratic candidate Andrew Yang said on CNN on Saturday night that each candidate faced a fateful choice, one he made himself a few weeks ago after failing to crack the top tier.

“No. 1, can you win? No. 2, are you helping your cause by staying? And No. 3, are you helping to defeat Donald Trump by staying?” Yang asked.

One candidate who had that conversation with himself and decided to pull out on Saturday night was Tom Steyer — the billionaire who dropped more than $20 million of his own cash in South Carolina but looks set to come a distant third place.

Still, there is no guarantee that supporters of the moderate candidates would automatically gravitate towards Biden if their favorites drop out.

Another candidate — Warren, who has so far failed to topple Sanders as the champion of the most progressive Democratic voters — said on Saturday night her campaign was built for the “long haul.”

But she also appeared to hint at an assessment of her prospects in the days after Super Tuesday.

“I’ll be the first to say that the first four contests haven’t gone exactly as I’d hoped,” Warren said. “But Super Tuesday is three days away and we’re looking forward to gaining as many delegates to the convention as we can.”

She added, “It might take days or even longer to know the full Super Tuesday results, but they will be critical in sorting out who our nominee will be this year.”

A Democratic official close to the Biden campaign told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that it would help the former vice president if Warren and Klobuchar stay in the race through Tuesday, since they will give Sanders a close run in their home states and put a ceiling on the delegates that he can win there.

It appears there is no realistic path to the nomination for Warren, Klobuchar and Buttigieg, given Saturday’s results and the long term look for the race.

Some Democratic leaders fear that Sanders’ brand of “democratic socialism” will represent a juicy target for Trump in November and will prove too radical for suburban voters who handed Democrats the House in 2018.

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Here’s What We Know About Russia’s ‘New Playbook’ for Election Meddling in 2020

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U.S. intelligence officials told a House committee last week that Russia is attempting to meddle in the 2020 presidential election on behalf of President Donald Trump, according to a New York Times report on Thursday. And they’re reportedly using a “new playbook” to do so.

In 2016, the Russian government created troll armies and impersonated Americans and American groups in 2016, but now, it’s cutting out the middleman and just trying to get Americans to repeat blatantly false information themselves, the intelligence officials reportedly told Congress. The government is also allegedly working from U.S.-based servers rather than ones in Russia, the officials reportedly said, an attempt to circumvent monitoring by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The National Security Agency also apparently told House lawmakers that Russian hackers have “infiltrated” Iran’s cyberwarfare unit, “perhaps with the intent of launching attacks” and making it appear that they come from Iran. And lawmakers were also warned that “foreign powers” could use ransomware attacks to incapacitate or pry with voting systems and registration databases. Last year, there were ransomware attacks on at least 140 state and local government and healthcare providers in the U.S., CNN reported in October.

The briefing also included a revelation that Russia intended to interfere with both the 2020 Democratic primaries and the general election, the Times reported. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report released last year found that the Russian government had also tried to influence the 2016 Democratic primary.

One tactic that hasn’t changed, intelligence officials reportedly said, is that the Russian government is looking to exploit existing controversies and close election results to question the integrity of the American political system.

READ: Trump and Putin joked about election interference and killing journalists

“The message was, ‘it appears they’re favoring one candidate over another, and everybody should be cautious,’” a CBS News source who attended the Hill meeting told the network.

The report wasn’t exactly what the GOP wanted to hear. Trump was reportedly “angered” by the disclosure, believing it would be used against him by the Democrats. He reportedly “berated” acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire — whose aide, Shelby Pierson, reportedly delivered the briefing — for allowing it to happen.

Administration officials sought to downplay Pierson’s report, which, according to the Times, was “the conclusion of multiple intelligence agencies.”

“A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker,” a “national security official” told CNN. “But not that they prefer him over (Bernie) Sanders or (Pete) Buttigieg or anyone else. So it may have been mischaracterized by Shelby.”

Trump replaced Maguire with U.S. ambassador to Germany and former Fox News contributor Richard Grenell this week. Administration officials said the timing was coincidental, according to the Times.

READ: The Russian group that hacked the DNC has now breached the company at the center of Trump’s impeachment

Republican lawmakers at the meeting also reportedly defended Trump from the assertion that Russia would intervene on his behalf, including Utah Rep. Chris Stewart. “I’d challenge anyone to give me a real-world argument where Putin would rather have President Trump and not Bernie Sanders,” Stewart told the Times.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff — the House Intelligence Committee chair, whose presence at the meeting particularly irked Trump, according to the Times — said in a Thursday tweet that “We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections.”

“If reports are true and the President is interfering with that, he is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling,” Schiff continued. “Exactly as we warned he would do.”

Cover: Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses during his meeting in the Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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US election 2020: Meet the Democrats vying to take on Trump

Election season is getting under way and the race to become the Democratic challenger to Donald Trump is hotting up.

Last summer, there were nearly 30 serious candidates vying for the attention of the party’s supporters, but fewer than ten are still standing.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the relatively well-known frontrunners, but some of the chasing pack were mostly unknown outside the Washington DC bubble before running.

Here’s our rundown of the candidates left in the race, with a take from the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher on each.

Who are they? What are their key issues? What’s their secret weapon against President Trump? We’ve got it all covered.

  • Veteran politician who was a Delaware senator for more than three decades before becoming Barack Obama’s vice-president in 2009.

    Key issues:

    Rebuilding the middle class; investing in federal infrastructure; tuition-free public universities.

    Anthony’s take:

    For the better part of 2019, campaign-watchers in the media and the political world were waiting for the former vice-president’s stumbles and bumbles to catch up with him. Entire candidacies (Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and others) were built around the premise that the early frontrunner was poised for a fall.

    That hasn’t ended up happening. While other candidates have surged and faded, Biden keeps on keeping on. His support has been doggedly stable, drawing largely from elderly, moderate and black voters.

    He doesn’t have as much money or draw crowds as big as some of his rivals – and that could catch up with him in the end. He hasn’t faded, but he hasn’t surged either – and the only way that may happen is if he becomes the safe harbour candidate for voters concerned about more radical alternatives.

    But even if the road gets rocky, Biden has proven he has staying power.

    Secret weapon:

    Comfortability. Like an old pair of jeans, Biden is a known, unthreatening quantity. After four years of Donald Trump, that could be the ticket to victory.

  • Progressive senator from Massachusetts who was a law school professor before entering politics.

    Key issues:

    Wealth tax; healthcare and abortion rights; criminalising corporate negligence.

    Anthony’s take:

    There was a moment during late summer when it appeared Elizabeth Warren would be the Democratic candidate to beat when the calendar turned to 2020. Then she got bogged down explaining and recalibrating her healthcare proposals, voter concern about her “electability” resurfaced and an end-of-the-year spat between her and Bernie Sanders set both sides’ supporters at each other’s throats.

    She still has many of the strengths that made her rise possible – a well-funded and extensive campaign organisation, an “I have a plan for that” campaign message that appeals to solutions-oriented voters, and star-power appeal for many on the left.

    Her challenge seems to be that she has been caught between moderate voters who are opting for candidates like Biden and Buttigieg and liberal ones who are sticking with – or returning back to – Sanders. It’s a trap now-departed candidates like Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke are very familiar with.

    Secret weapon:

    Selfie-taking. Warren has proven to be a very underrated campaigner, improving her stump speech as she goes along and showing a boundless energy at rallies and town halls, where she frequently poses for photos with supporters for hours on end.

  • Vermont senator and self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist” who came close to the nomination in 2016.

    Key issues:

    Medicare-for-All universal healthcare coverage; raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans; upping the minimum wage.

    Anthony’s take:

    The big question hanging over Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign was whether it would be able to recapture the magic of his 2016 effort.

    For a while, it was no sure thing. The 78-year-old candidate had a heart attack in October, raising concerns about his age. He was competing in a much more crowded field, which featured another liberal heavyweight, Elizabeth Warren. His polling support ebbed and flowed for much of 2019.

    By early 2020, however, he had re-established himself again as the progressive standard-bearer, whose sometimes gruff and always consistent message about income inequality and corporate rapaciousness lent him an air of that much-sought-after modern political quality – authenticity.

    To win the nomination he’ll have to either count on a field where the moderate Democratic vote stays divided or ensure that his base reflects the diversity of the Democratic party – all while deflecting what will be a fierce effort by some in the party to derail his campaign.

    Secret weapon:

    Loyalty. More than any other Democratic candidate, Sanders has a core group of supporters who have stuck with him through thick and thin. They despaired when he lost in 2016, and have been planning his political revival ever since. Now their time has come.

  • Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a military veteran and the only openly gay presidential hopeful.

    Key issues:

    Political reform; LGBTQ rights; college loan relief.

    Anthony’s take:

    Pete Buttigieg came from nowhere (technically, Indiana) to burst onto the national political scene in 2019.

    He experienced two polling surges in early-voting Iowa and New Hampshire over the course of the year, as his earnestness, rhetorical skill, fresh-faced appeal and groundbreaking nature of his candidacy attracted popular support and top-of-field campaign fundraising amounts.

    The biggest question facing his campaign is whether the attention and interest he’s generated in those early states will translate into success as the Democratic race moves to states with a more diverse electorate that reflects the composition of the Democratic Party nationwide.

    Numerous polls show him garnering little or no support from black voters, for example. If he can’t change that, the heady days of campaigning to enthusiastic crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire will quickly come to an end.

    Secret weapon:

    Time. As one of the first millennials to run for president, the bulk of Buttigieg’s political career still lies ahead of him – and his early success is a sign of things to come.

  • Former banker and New York mayor who is one of the richest men in America.

    Key issues:

    Economy; immigration; gun control; climate change.

    Anthony’s take:

    Michael Bloomberg is a very data-driven businessman. But it doesn’t take an advanced degree in quantitative analysis to realise that the Democratic field, even at this late date, is still in flux.

    His strategy appears to be to let the current frontrunners fight it out in the early voting states, then take on a diminished field later in the process using his near unlimited resources. He’s spending heavily on national advertising and focusing on “Super Tuesday” states like Texas and California, which have a big impact on who gets the Democratic nomination.

    It’s a risky play that only someone of Mr Bloomberg’s vast wealth can afford to make.

    Although Bloomberg’s poll numbers are ticking up, it’s hard to imagine the more liberal members of the party will support a business-friendly New York City plutocrat ex-Republican – particularly one who could present a late threat to a progressive candidate like Sanders or Warren.

    Bloomberg might even end up splitting the moderate vote in the March primaries, making the path to the nomination easier for a liberal favourite.

    Secret weapon:

    Lots and lots of money. No one has run a campaign quite like Bloomberg. Then again, no one has had the vast sums of money to run a campaign like his. He’s carpet-bombing the airwaves and online in a way that is unprecedented in modern US political history.

  • Three-term Minnesota senator who has shown she can win votes in a Midwestern battleground state.

    Key issues:

    Infrastructure investments; mental health programmes; lowering prescription drug prices.

    Anthony’s take:

    Amy Klobuchar entered the race as a dark horse, and she has remained largely in the shadows.

    As the field, and the debate stages, thinned, she picked up some support, but she has never made the move to the top tier of candidates that some expected. Even in Iowa, which borders her home state of Minnesota, she remains well behind the front of the pack.

    If Biden stumbles, she would be well-positioned to pick up moderate support – pitching herself as a practical politician who has proven she can win in swing states. With every passing day, that seems like less of a possibility, however.

    Although she saw an uptick in fundraising at the end of 2019, that money is being spent heavily in early states, leaving little for an extended run into the primary season if her fortunes don’t change quickly.

    Secret weapon:

    Practicality. During the debates Klobuchar often presented herself as the voice of reason, arguing that some of her more liberal rivals were advancing plans that could never be enacted.

  • Hedge-fund billionaire from California who has a history of advocating for liberal causes.

    Key issues:

    Climate change; healthcare.

    Anthony’s take:

    Tom Steyer appeared to close the door on a presidential bid back in January, instead pledging to do whatever it takes to remove Donald Trump from office via the constitutionally outlined impeachment process. He changed his mind, which is the kind of luxury afforded a billionaire.

    Since then, Steyer has found an effective strategy for repeatedly landing on the debate stage, if not in the top tier of presidential contenders. He’s focused his advertising money on Nevada and South Carolina – two early-voting states whose polls count for debate qualification but have not been the focus of the rest of the presidential field. He’s surging to near the front of the pack there, while languishing in the cellar in every other survey, national or state-level.

    So far, at least, Steyer hasn’t been able to make a lasting impression in front of a national audience, except for a brief post-debate moment where he had a front-row seat to the icy standoff between Warren and Sanders. He might be taken more seriously if his polling in South Carolina and Nevada holds up after the heavy-hitters start ramping up their campaigns there – but that’s a big if.

    Secret weapon:

    Money. Maybe that’s not that secret for a billionaire, but in US politics there are few weapons more effective than a bountiful source of cash.

  • Progressive congresswoman from Hawaii – and the first Hindu member of Congress – who is also an Iraq War veteran.

    Key issues:

    Ending interventionist foreign policy; climate change; gun control.

    Anthony’s take:

    Tulsi Gabbard’s biggest calling card during the 2020 presidential race may end up being her willingness to mix it up with other candidates – on the debate stage and the campaign trail.

    She hasn’t hesitated to draw stark contrasts between her non-interventionist foreign policy views and those of her opponents, who she says support endless “regime change wars”. She’s even filed a $50m defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton for suggesting that she was Russia’s favourite candidate.

    It would take a lot to get her into contention at this point, but before it’s all over she will have left a few bruises on her opponents.

    Secret weapon:

    Nerve. As one of the youngest candidates in the field, it took a lot of courage for Gabbard to go up against the established figures in the race. Say what you will about her appeal as a candidate, but she never blinked.

  • Former Massachusetts governor, trained lawyer and close friend of Barack Obama.

    Key issues:

    Healthcare; climate change.

    Anthony’s take:

    Deval Patrick entered the race late and has bet everything he has on making a good showing in either New Hampshire or South Carolina. So far, there’s no indication this strategy is working.

    He has obvious political skill, but unless your name is Oprah or Michelle Obama, it takes more than skill to have an impact on the race at this point.

    Secret weapon:

    Connections. Patrick is friends with Barack Obama, who reportedly offered him advice before he launched his presidential bid. He needs a little of that campaign magic to rub off.

Tap here if you can’t see the candidate search tool

The race so far

Although the field has now been whittled down to less than ten contenders, at one point it had swelled to nearly 30 Democrats.

Former congressman John Delaney began his campaign back in the summer of 2017 and was joined a couple of months later by Andrew Yang. After two and a half years of campaigning, Delaney admitted defeat and withdrew in January. Yang dropped out after getting just 1% of votes in Iowa and 3% in New Hampshire.

Others, like Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick, left it late to get involved. Bloomberg’s strategy is to focus his attention on states that will vote on Super Tuesday (3 March), spending huge amounts of his personal wealth on TV ad campaigns to pick up support. Patrick’s strategy is unclear.

Polls point to clear top tier

Joe Biden was the accepted frontrunner in this race throughout 2019. After serving as Barack Obama’s vice-president for eight years, he had strong name recognition and held a clear lead in national polls.

Since the start of this year, however, his numbers have dropped and Bernie Sanders overtook him in the RealClearPolitics national average after a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses. Support for Sanders is likely to continue growing following his win in the New Hampshire primary.

Elizabeth Warren, who briefly overtook Biden in October last year, has seen her numbers fall in recent months.

Pete Buttigieg was the big surprise in 2019, gaining traction while other high-profile candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker struggled. His performances in Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to give him a further bounce.

There’s a lot of drama to come

There is one contest every week in February, but the race begins to get really busy next month. On 3 March, there are votes in more than a dozen states – including California and Texas, two states with a huge number of delegates on offer.

Although there is usually a clear winner much sooner, the race officially ends in July at the Democratic National Convention where the candidates with the highest number of delegates becomes the party’s presidential nominee.

Words: Anthony Zurcher, Mike Hills. Charts: Mike Hills. Development: Felix Stephenson, Alexander Ivanov, Steven Connor. Design: Debie Loizou.

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2020 election: The Iowa caucus debacle comes at the worst possible time for our democracy

That there is no winner — or even a single tabulated result — reported by the party early Tuesday morning (or even a time to expect that result) speaks to the depth of the issue in what is the one major job of officials in every election: counting the votes.

As Iowa Democratic Party officials scrambled to explain what had gone wrong — “inconsistencies” in the tally — they were careful to note, in the words of a party spokeswoman, “this is not a hack or an intrusion.”

Which is a good thing! But, it’s hard to imagine a worse time for our election system to falter than right now as election integrity is the question at the center of many conversations.

President Donald Trump was impeached late last year by the House for his conduct in regard to Ukraine — particularly his urging of that country’s president to look into unfounded corruption allegations against one of his potential 2020 opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted corruptly in Ukraine.

Prior to that impeachment investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller spent almost two years looking into Russian’s deep and broad attempts to influence the 2016 election — ultimately concluding that, yes, Russia worked to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton because they believed the billionaire businessman would be better for their own long-term interests.

While Trump has repeatedly insisted that the entire Mueller probe was a hoax, the intelligence community as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee have drawn conclusions similar to Mueller: Yes, Russia sought to meddle and, yes, they wanted Trump to win and worked to that end.

And, in every after-action report — from within the administration and from without — there is a consensus that Russia will (and is) trying to again influence our elections.

“We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests,” then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2019. “We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences and efforts.”

To be clear: There is no evidence that the “inconsistencies” in the Iowa caucus vote are due to any sort of foreign interference. But, what happened on Monday night — and continues to happen Tuesday — is a debacle, plain and simple.

The first goal — and, really, the only goal — of election officials in any race is to ensure that the voters and the candidates believe in the fairness and the accuracy of the result even if it’s not what they had hoped for. Is there any way that any of the candidates will feel that way when the Iowa Democratic Party announces the results from Monday night?

Already, Biden’s campaign has sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party asking for both more information about what went wrong and “an opportunity to respond before any official results are released.”

It’s simply hard to imagine, given what we all witnessed play out on national TV Monday night, that some campaigns won’t try to cast doubt upon the numbers in a way they would not have been able to if the reporting of the tally had been seamless.

That’s obviously problematic for the candidates who appeared to be be overperforming and potentially headed to a victory. But it’s an even bigger problem for faith in our democratic institutions — for us to be able to trust that when we vote, that vote will be accurately counted and reported.

When you consider that Trump suggested with zero proof that 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election — an election he won! — you can see where a broad erosion in our elections could have disastrous consequences moving forward in 2020.

And it’s only just beginning.

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Iowa caucuses: Race to decide election candidates begins

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The spotlight is on Sanders in Iowa: will he shine?

The first event that will help decide the candidates for US president is to take place with Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

Democratic and Republican voters will choose their preferred nominees for the White House race.

While victory in Iowa doesn’t guarantee anyone the nomination, it can help give them crucial momentum.

The path appears clear for Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, but there are still 11 people running for the Democratic nomination.

Many have spent the past few weeks vigorously campaigning in the Midwest state, which is always the first to vote. The primaries contest goes on until early June, and moves on to New Hampshire next Tuesday.

Here’s the story of what to expect in Iowa, broken down.

One person to watch

Polls suggest that Bernie Sanders has risen to be the favourite in Iowa (or – depending where you look – the joint-favourite, with former vice-president Joe Biden).

He is one of four senators running for president who have had to stay behind in Washington to attend Mr Trump’s impeachment trial, but his supporters, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have been energetically campaigning on his behalf in Iowa.

Four years after losing out to Hillary Clinton, could this be the 78-year-old’s time? He is backed by a huge pot of donations and a team of hundreds. But if he won the nomination, would moderate Democrats really rally around a candidate for the White House who identifies as a democratic socialist?

Some of the other big names including Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg will be hoping Mr Sanders doesn’t have it all his own way in Iowa.

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Media captionHow Iowa is like the luge: An unconventional guide to the caucuses

There are also Republican caucuses on Monday, and two people are running against Mr Trump, but the president’s popularity within his own party is such that his nomination is all but a formality.

One piece of context

Iowa, to some extent, provides a glimpse of what went wrong for Democrats in 2016.

In the last election, more than 200 US counties flipped from supporting President Barack Obama in 2012 to backing Mr Trump – and 31 of those counties were in Iowa.

Democrats will be hoping to lure back those floating voters in 2020. And while we won’t know until November whether they have been successful, we may get a glimpse of where the land lies on Monday.

Howard County in northern Iowa flipped by 41 percentage points in 2016, the largest change in the US. The BBC’s Angélica Casas and Marianna Brady went there to ask people whether they would vote for a Democrat in 2020.

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Media caption‘We voted for Obama, then Trump’

One key question

Does Iowa actually matter? It depends how you look at it.

As the primary season curtain-raiser, Iowa can help shape perceptions among voters. A win here can help give a candidate momentum early in the race (as it did in 1976 with Jimmy Carter) and erase any doubts about their viability.

While Iowans have a good record at picking the eventual Democratic nominee, their record when it comes to the Republican candidate is more mixed. When it’s an open Republican race (unlike this year, for example), none of the winners of Iowa has become the Republican nominee since 2000.

It’s worth pointing out that Iowa isn’t the most diverse of states either – the rest of America will vote very differently in upcoming primaries and caucuses.

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Caucus captains gather around a mock official

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People in other states may not understand why you’d stand around for two hours for a caucus

So says Ann Anhalt, from Des Moines, who plans to vote for tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang on Monday. But this is exactly what a caucus involves – they are essentially internal party meetings, scattered across the state, that might last a few hours.

At some point during the meeting, you have to show your support for a candidate. You do this by standing next to others who also support that candidate, and a count takes place.

What’s at stake is delegates – 41 Democratic ones in Iowa – distributed according to how well candidates performed in the caucuses. If candidate A is awarded 10 delegates, those delegates would later vote for candidate A as the Democratic nominee at the summer convention – the aim for any candidate is to gain as many delegates as possible over the primary season.

One voter’s view

Gina Weekley, 36 – Youth advocate from Waterloo, Iowa

I’m married to a woman, so my livelihood and happiness is at stake in this election. My family’s future is at stake in this election. And our freedom as Americans is at stake.

We need a strong leader to emerge as the Democratic nominee. Someone with great passion and energy who can unify the United States.

The division and hate messages that we’ve seen under the Trump presidency needs to end. We don’t currently have a leader that works for all Americans.

I’m caucusing so that future generations can access quality education. We need a president who helps “at risk” youth get the proper services they need so they don’t fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline.

One thing to look out for

At each of the 1,677 locations across the state, a candidate must have the support of at least 15% of voters in order to qualify for a chance to win Iowa delegates to the national convention in July – when the candidate is ultimately picked.

After a first round of tabulations, those who support a candidate that doesn’t reach “viability” have the opportunity to switch sides.

Complicating everything is the new reporting system the Democratic Party has instituted for the Iowa caucus results.

In the past, the party has only released one number – the final tabulation of support after all the caucus horse-trading and support swapping takes place. This time, however, there will be two sets of numbers – the final tally as well as a count of each candidate’s support in the first round of balloting.

That means two – or more! – candidates could be on stage declaring victory on Monday night.

It has the makings for a long, chaotic night – the first of what could be many for the candidates still standing after the Iowa dust settles.

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Media captionSurrogates campaign for Senators stuck in Washington

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Sources: Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren in a 2018 meeting a woman couldn’t win the 2020 election

Sen. Bernie Sanders told Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a private meeting in 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the presidency, sources say. Sanders has denied the characterization of the meeting in a statement to CNN. CNN’s MJ Lee has more.