Democratic Race in Iowa: Too Close to Call

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton seemed poised to eke out a victory over Bernie Sanders in the nation's first electoral contest of 2016. 

Clinton's campaign declared victory in the Iowa caucus by 9:30 p.m. local time, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell reported. The network had not yet called the race in Clinton's favor.

At 10:15 p.m., Clinton was leading Sanders by less than one percentage point — with 50.2 percent of the caucus supporting Clinton, and 49.3 percent of the caucus supporting Sanders, according to The New York Times

Martin O'Malley, the longshot candidate and former Maryland Governor, had suspended his campaign by 9:15 p.m. local time, MSNBC reports. The former Baltimore mayor was expected to make his formal announcement later that night at his post-caucus party. 

Before voters closed their doors and began their respective caucuses, the Real Clear Politics average of a wide swath of polling data had Clinton 14.4 points ahead of Sanders, who was returning 37.2 percent as the caucus began. 

After a weekend spent campaigning across the state with her daughter, and husband, former president Bill Clinton in tow, the Democratic front-runner landed a major endorsement "with confidence and enthusiasm" from the Times editorial board Saturday. The 68-year-old former secretary of State was lauded as one of the "most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history." 

In a Monday interview with Matt Lauer on Today, Clinton hitched her wagon to the progressive accomplishments of the Obama administration, which she served as secretary of State. "I think what President Obama inherited, an economy that was in the ditch, he doesn't get the credit for pulling it out," she said. "He doesn't get the credit that he deserves for the Affordable Care Act, something we've been trying to do, that I sure tried to do to get us on the path for universal coverage."

Sanders also spent the weekend touring the state and repeating his populist message to packed crowds. On Saturday night, indie rock band Vampire Weekend hosted a student rally and concert for the senator from Vermont in Iowa City, praising him as a "once-in-a-lifetime candidate," according to the Times. The 74-year-old independent then jumped onstage to join the band in a rendition of "This Land Is Your Land." 

By comparison, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's Saturday night was "kind of depressing," according to the The Huffington Post. While Sanders and Clinton were speaking on large stages to teeming crowds of supporters, O'Malley "stood on a chair in his cramped campaign office." 

HuffPost continues:

"About 100 or so people came to hear him talk. A table in the back offered a spread of hamburgers, store-bought cookies and something simmering in a crockpot. A printed 'Wish List' taped to the wall asked supporters for donated items. A couch. Inflatable mattresses. Pens. A vacuum cleaner.

"The last request on the list was scribbled in by hand: 'A victory in Iowa!'"

If O'Malley does not win at least 15 percent of the vote in a given precinct, the candidate will be deemed "not viable," and his supporters will be asked to back one of the top contenders instead. Pre-caucus polls placed O'Malley's support around 4 percent — not enough to be deemed viable, but enough to "tip the balance" in a close call between Sanders and Clinton, according to The New Republic

This story is developing. Check back for updates. 

READER COMMENTS ()