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Coverage of the First Caucus in Iowa; Trump Speaking at Caucus Site; Voting Now Underway At Caucus Sites; Entrance Polls: Clinton Holds Slight Lead Over to Sanders; First Votes Coming In From Iowa Caucuses; Entrance Polls: Trump; Cruz; Rubio In Tight Race; Some Democratic Caucuses Reporting Votes. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 1, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:14] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Good news for Donald Trump on the Republican side. But we are now about to get our first indications.

All right. This is the CNN key race alert based on the early entrants polls that we are getting. It looks like there is a three-man race on the Republican side. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. That's on the Republican side right there. We project they are the early leaders based on the snapshot that we are getting people as they were walking in. We will update that as we go along. But this is an early snapshot.

On the Democratic side, a two-person race, we can now say based on the CNN entrance polls, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They are clearly in a close race right now. We are going to get more information as we get more information from these entrance polls. Questions that we asked individuals going into key caucus sites. We certainly are giving the early indications. Three-person race on the Republican side, two-person race, excuse me, on the Democratic side. But that could easily change.

I want to walk over here with David Chalian, our CNN political director who is making a closer look. You have been studying these entrance polls numbers. What are the some of the things you are seeing?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, one of the key numbers that we look for right away, Wolf, was the first time caucus goers. Are these candidates expanding the universe? On the Republican side, take a look at these numbers. Forty-three percent are first time caucus goers, 57 percent have attended a caucus before. That 43 percent is higher than we saw in the 2012 Republican caucuses. It was only 38 percent first time caucus goers then. So that is increasing. New people to the process and that is clearly going to have impact tonight perhaps a good though for Donald Trump.

We also found out when you decided. Take a look at this, 34 percent of the Republican electorate decided in the last few days, 65 percent decided earlier. So that, Donald Trump decision to skip the debate, Wolf, to not show up there and hold his own event, that may not have had as much impact even though it was a very dramatic moment because it seems like a great majority of the Republican electorate actually had their choice locked in. We also had some numbers on the Democratic side that I want to bring

you. The same time. First time caucus goers, take a look at this. Ever attended a caucus before, 59 percent said yes and 41 percent said no. That is different in 2008 when Barack Obama changed history with the Iowa caucuses and then an explosion turn out. It was 57 percent first time caucus goers then. Now 41 percent. This is not a number the Sanders campaign is probably going to love tonight. This is welcome news probably for Hillary Clinton campaign. And when did they decide? Take a look at this. This was a race that was locked in pretty early on, 86 percent of Democrat said they decided earlier than the last few days. Just 13 percent decided in the last few days.

BLITZER: So that would be potentially good news for Hillary Clinton as well.

CHALIAN: Well, because she has been the dominant force in the race. So any of that last moment enthusiasm that we may have seen in Bernie Sanders rallies, that necessarily didn't impact how people decided. A lot of Democrats have decided.

BLITZER: All right. So based on the entrance poll results, the early leaders on the Republican side as we have been pointing out, Donald Trump, there he is. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The early leaders on the Democratic side based on our CNN entrance polls. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Let's go back to Jake and to Dana.

Jake, there is a lot to dissect. We are going to be getting the real numbers fairly soon.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. These are just the early numbers. Let's talk about turn out, Dana. And how many of these voters are voting in a caucus for the very first time. Because these are numbers that could be very significant.

As Wolf and David Chalian just explained in terms of Republicans, according to these early numbers, first time caucus attendees, 43 percent said this is their first caucus, 57 percent said they attended a caucus before. The significance.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a huge number. It really is. A first time caucus goer. And the reason why we are - and David mentioned this, we were really focusing on this is because Donald Trump, the whole game for him is turning people who stood in line for three hours to go see him who were not engaged in the political process turning those people into actual caucus goers. And we don't know for sure, obviously, if the first time caucus goers are for Donald Trump. But they are more than likely.

And it's not just me saying that, that sources in the Cruz campaign who have said going in that they want that number to be lower because the more traditional conservative evangelical voter is somebody who has been there before and that's good for Ted Cruz.

TAPPER: All right. And we will talk about the Democratic numbers in a second. But right now I want to go to Sara Murray. She is with the Trump campaign in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sara, what is the campaign saying? What are your sources in the campaign telling you as the campaign sees these numbers coming in and watching CNN or even hearing them on the ground from the officials at the precincts?

[20:05:02] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Jake, the fact that we are seeing these big turn outs showing at these caucuses precincts is certainly good news for the Trump campaign. They were telling leading up to this, that they felt confident about anything over 120,000.

The fact that you are seeing such a high percentage of new caucus goers is also great for them. And in fact, the Trump campaign took precautions to guard against the possibilities. And there would be so many people that you would actually run out of registration forms. That's why they were handing this out to people. On the front you can see it shows people went to caucus. It's a reminder. But on the back is actually a voter registration form so they are new caucus goers could show up even if they showed up later, even if folks were out of these forms and still register to vote for Donald Trump.

So you could see that they are preparing the entire time for a high turnout. Now, Donald Trump is on his way to some caucus site to see this for himself. And I'm sure we will getting a reaction for him after he does.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray. I'm sure we will.

Let's go to Jeff Zeleny right now who is in Des Moines at Sanders campaign headquarters.

Jeff, how is the campaign feeling? What are they saying after getting these numbers and looking at the turn out in these precincts?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they have been very focused on the first time caucus goers as David was mentioning earlier. That is a critical component to them. But it's important to point out that first time voters are not senator Sanders alone. The Clinton campaign was also working at first time voters. And the age range of age 17 to 25, those are voters who have not caucused before. And both Senator Sanders and Hillary Clinton were working them aggressively. But no question, the Sanders campaign was hoping for a bigger showing of first time voters. But important to point out, these are preliminary numbers.

But Jake, I can tell you. I have been having conversations with several voters in their precinct sites this evening who I have been talking to over several weeks. And across the board from (INAUDIBLE) to Johnston to Ames to western Iowa, every single precinct, the five voters I talk to, completely crowded and packed more than ever before.

Again, anecdotal information, there are 1681 precincts across this state. But it is interesting to see these pictures coming in from them that are very crowded. And a lot of people registering to vote there. So we are watching exactly what is happening in these precincts. But the first time voter thing may not be as good for Senator Sanders as they had hoped -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny at Sanders headquarters.

And Dana, Jeff raised an interesting point. These are very early numbers. And as we know from eight years ago when the initial results suggested that Hillary Clinton was going to win Iowa and she came in third that night. They tend to skew older people who showed up at caucuses earlier and tend to be a little bit older and they tend to be female.

BASH: That's exactly right which could -- all could be an early indicator for Hillary Clinton that maybe could be a false one with these numbers. So it is good to have caution. But the combination of the early numbers, the anecdotal information we are getting from the people who are at the caucus site and the texts and emails that we are getting from our sources all seem to suggest that turn out is higher than normal.

TAPPER: Although, according to these first numbers, the number of first time caucus goers who are turning out from the Democratic caucus is lower than it was eight years ago when Barack Obama was able to win the night.

BASH: So huge. It was a record high.

TAPPER: Yes, 57 percent.

BASH: That's right.

TAPPER: Let's go to Anderson Cooper back in Washington -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. We are going to talk with our panel about all of this, of course. We will start to actually get results from caucus sites over the next several hours. We are going to bring that to you as soon as we get them. So we will actually get some hard numbers to look at.

But Jeffrey, certainly for your candidate, Donald Trump at Republican side, the idea of a relatively higher number of first time caucus goers that seems to break well for Donald Trump.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It does. But the one thing I would caution is my parents were in politics and they told me always remember President Dewey. You just never take anything for granted. This is ongoing. We are just at the very beginning of this process. So there is a job to do. And the people out there I'm sure are doing it. So whatever reports are, keep it going.

COOPER: That's what's so exciting about tonight is this is the first time we are actually getting votes from people, the people who matter. No offense.

LORD: This is a big deal.

COOPER: Actually people who are going to be making the decision. S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And why this is such a huge

night unlike so many Iowans before. Remember back to Iowans where like John McCain didn't even (INAUDIBLE), I mean, he didn't go. Al Gore didn't go to Iowa.

This is so important because this election especially for Republicans has been so unpredictable starts to finish. So now we are finally going to get some actual hard data so that we can kind of stop speculating --.

COOPER: I remember months ago, so many people were raising questions about your candidate, Donald Trump. What if he doesn't do well? Is he going to completely flip out? Is he going to just dropout? You know, all those questions will start.


[20:10:00] CUPP: (INAUDIBLE) is winning. And I heard him say today for the first time is the L word. He said win, lose, or draw, I still love you, Iowa. It looks like you might have a good night. Again, it's very, very early. We can't tell. Definitely setting expectations.

COOPER: We are getting a look at Donald Trump actually at a caucus site in West Des Moines. A number of candidates actually going to caucus sites. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio as well, we were told. There is going to be (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump at a caucus site out until the last minute. We heard Hillary Clinton is in the hotel room. Donald Trump is there pressing the fliers, doing whatever he can.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is important is a big deal for Republicans. This is also a very big deal for Democrats.

There is - if you look at the data. There, looks like there is a youth rebellion in this Democratic Party for Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton. I would have never thought - I bet Hillary Clinton never thought she would wake up in the morning and pray that young women didn't go vote. Because young women, if it were up to young female Democrats, they would give this thing to Bernie Sanders. That is shocking because something is going on here.

I think, unfortunately for Sanders, though, the structure of this youth rebellion is actually hurting him because the young people are clustered on this campuses. They are not fanned out like they were in 2008. And so - but there is something I hope that the establishment, win, lose, or draw, paid attention to, young people want to idealism. They want to believe in a better future. This is a movement versus the machine. And that's what this is all about.

COOPER: Let's keep focusing on. I mean, you had Donald Trump, here there with his wife out at this site. Does it matter at this point? I mean, does this kind of thing poll actually help?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No a lot. I think it's cool. I think it is (INAUDIBLE). I mean, you can never experience an Iowa caucus in person. That's good for Mr. Trump. (INAUDIBLE). Donald Trump is a noted journalist. He can't stand to shake hands. He is leading as a politician.

COOPER: I just saw him kissed -- somebody just kissed him.

BEGALA: Maybe a future trophy wife. We don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is very successful with the ladies.

COOPER: Paul - but when you look at -- you have Donald Trump here. You have a number of Republican candidates out in the last minute. I mean, it is just -- let's just take a moment because it is an extraordinary to think, and I said this before the night already, but six months ago nobody would have believed that this man would be leading the pack. Very possibly going to win tonight. Nobody, I think, except Jeffrey Lord.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He showed up in the dark day when everybody ridiculed him.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And he turned into a real candidate, right. I mean, he is out there. You know, maybe not kissing anyone, maybe other than his wife. But he rolled out endorsements. He has Sarah Palin. He had Jerry Farwell Jr. So he is acting like a politician.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He would be in a fight, you know, a neck and neck fight with Ted Cruz for evangelical voters. Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a home game for him. And he was second in the polls and maybe second tonight among evangelicals.

COOPER: If I believe - someone I think two people from the left, somebody who was in Celebrity Apprentice. But Donald Trump could have very easily -- somebody could have very easily -- Donald Trump could very easily just, you know, focused on New Hampshire and given up on Iowa. The fact that he doubled did it - double down on it is very telling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And he has an opportunity and went for it. I just wanted to respond to something that Van said because I was there in 2008. And I remember, if Hillary Clinton woke up this morning not expecting a youth movement on her opponents part and she wasn't paying attention when she got beaten 5-1 by Barack Obama and they came out in record numbers, one of the reasons why it worked, many people were under 30 in that most caucuses as over 65.

JONES: But don't you think, though, you know, Barack Obama is probably the coolest person ever born. This is Bernie Sanders. And this is also young women. I cannot imagine, if you are Hillary Clinton, you don't have heart break that young women are breaking against you in your own party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is stunning to me is he may win this tonight. And Jeffrey, I was at the top of the list when what did he do? He descended from the escalator. I never thought we would see the image that we are seeing tonight. But don't lose sight of the fact that Donald Trump is the candidate most unacceptable to the most number of Iowa Republicans.

Think about what I just said. He has the highest negatives of any Republicans who were in this race and because the field is so diffuse, he still might win the thing. That is what is stunning. But how he gets ahead of that for a general election, I have no idea.

COOPER: But also, not only - I mean, that on a national level, not necessarily an Iowa run, national level, he has been leading among evangelical voters. There were a lot of evangelicals who after his first appearance that had faith in values for Eric Erickson for Red State wrote, you know, he can write off the evangelical vote because it's not going to happen for him based on the comments. That has just been proved wrong.

[20:15:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has really proved wrong because too many people were looking through the wrong (INAUDIBLE). They are looking at Mr. Trump and he is funny but he is also vulgar and he is disrespectful.

Look at the other end. Look at those voters. These people who extraordinarily angry, quite a bit fearful. If he said blame Mexicans that they are rapist or you loss of jobs. He blame Muslims because --

COOPER: You are talking about illegal immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But he is a reflection. He didn't cause those feelings. He reflects them. In the base of the Republican Party today, there are a lot older white men. So angry. They were there. He stirred the pot. He fomented the seeds of the type of rebellion that has now --.


CUPP: That's why this night is so important. Just to give you an indication, and staying with the Republicans, I just talked to the Rubio campaign. They say they are actually taking votes, seeing votes, taking it away from Cruz. This election will come down to an establishment candidate, a mainstream candidate and what I'm calling an anger candidate. And that might be Trump, Jeffrey. That might be Trump. It could be Ted Cruz. But make no mistake, there will be an establishment candidate.

Now, that guy could be Marco Rubio and he could start at 10 percent to Trump's 50. But when the rest of the candidates fate away, that establishment --

S.E. is articulating - she is articulating the establishment hope. And the question is whether Rubio comes through with enough momentum to knock all other establishment guys out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he wins, if he gets a big vote tonight, he goes warring into New Hampshire, and it could be that establishment.

COOPER: Let's check in with Brian Todd who is at (INAUDIBLE), Iowa at another caucus site, Republican caucus site.

Brian, you were seeing a lot of new voters coming in there. I wonder, what's the scene right now?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, so many new voters that they had to delay the proceedings here at least 15 minutes. They were just now getting started here in (INAUDIBLE), Iowa. I have asked this gentleman handed me this new registration form.

This is the reason that they late getting started. I just finished counting at least 115 new registration forms here. The lines have been out the doors but the lines - thank you, sir. The lines have now ended. Everybody here is at full capacity. Look. They are not leaving the kids at home. They are bringing them here tonight. This is how excited they are about this caucus.

We are going to go in here to a standing room only crowd. They are just starting the proceedings here. This is one of the caucus chairs. They are going to elect the caucus chair, them they are going to do the pledge of allegiance then representatives of the candidates are going to get up and have a chance to speak for between two and five minutes. They have to keep it to a minimum because they have so much voting to go on.

Look at this. This is well beyond capacity. People are standing back there. This is how enthusiastic people are for voting in this. This is the Republican district of (INAUDIBLE), the 13th Republican district. They had 222 people in 2012. This place holds at least 450. It looks like they have, at the very least, Anderson and Wolf, doubled that. They have people standing up on the podium behind the caucus chair here.

People standing next to the walls on my left. People are ling this place. They are incredibly enthusiastic about coming here. We talked to a lot of people changing party affiliations and voting for the first time. Some of them told us they are doing that to vote for Donald Trump. But a lot of them also told us they are doing it to vote against them. So that is what is going to make the ballot count here so very exciting when they start this. But they have to get through the speeches then they are going to vote in secret. Different from the way the Democrats do it. That they vote in secret. They put the name of their candidate on a piece of paper and then they put it in a basket and start counting. They will be doing that soon.

COOPER: All right, Brian. Let's let them go ahead. We are going to go and check in with Tom Foreman who is in (INAUDIBLE), Iowa at a Democratic site.

Tom, what's the scene there?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want you to look at something if you can. This man was just handed number 400. That's how many voters were there that thought they would get 250 to 300. They hit 400 and now they still have about 10 people to go here to sign up.

And look at the room. If you come in here. Look at these numbers. Huge, huge numbers. They thought they would actually be voting by this time. They are still trying to get people squared away here. They haven't started that process because look at this. No room for anyone except to stand. People sitting on the floor. The chairs were take up a long time ago. This is the Hillary Clinton side over here. You go t other side, you can see that Bernie Sanders side and people have completely filled in the space.

There are team Martin O'Malley supporters in the back there. But they are clearly vastly outnumbered by this. And it was very clear talking to all the precinct officials here. This is something they really did not expect. They thought again maybe 300 tops. They are at 400 and it will be about 410 total voters here tonight by the time they are done -- Anderson.

[20:20:13] COOPER: And Tom, what about the undecided area?

FOREMAN: The undecided back here uncommitted. I can walk you back there (INAUDIBLE). There are really aren't many of them, Anderson. There are many, many people here who are first time voters. They told us that. They jumped out to tell us that. Very proud of it.

But take a look in this room. And in here, we really have just a handful of people in the back here. And frankly, some of the people who are talking to them right now are people who with the Hillary Clinton and the Bernie Sanders campaign trying to get This is the uncommitted room and in here we have a handful of people and some of the people who are talking to them are people who are with the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaign and trying to get them to change. So out of the number you are seeing back there, I'm going to say that on probably two-thirds or three-quarters that are committed and the rest are not, very few people But this is the real story of the night here in Coralville, Iowa. This massive crowd gather where they just didn't expect anything like this and they are coming in with much, much bigger numbers -- Anderson.

COOPER: Right. So Tom, if you can just show us the Sanders side and the Clinton side and let our viewers kind of eyeball maybe judge for themselves sort of overall numbers.

FOREMAN: Sure. On the right here if we go from the frond and we pan all the way back, this is the Bernie Sanders side. So all these people going all the way back. And it gets a little hard to see when you go all the way down to the end here, Anderson, because you will see people are packed into the standing area down here at the end. In fact, the two groups are kind of shoved up against each other with a few Martin O'Malley people in the middle. So it is kind of hard somehow to tell where they belong. But now when we swing over here, you start seeing the Hillary Clinton stickers. And if we come back this way, you can see the Hillary Clinton crowd and you can make your own judgment as to which looks bigger at the time. There are going to be some counting going on here and it is going to take longer than expected, no doubt, because as we pointed out, they haven't been able to get to the voting yet, Anderson. COOPER: Yes. All right, Tom, fascinating stuff.

Let's go to Pam Brown who is at a Democratic side in Des Moines.

Pam, tell us about the scene there.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's supposed to start here very shortly, Anderson. But there has been record turnout at this caucus site in Des Moines, 141 people showed up. And you can see here on the left side, these are Hillary Clinton supporters who are in their group. In fact, they plotted this place in particular because this is where Barack Obama's group won in this caucus site eight years ago. And then I'm going to have my photographer pan on the other side. These are the Bernie Sanders supporters. They are here because they believe that Bernie Sanders will start this political revolution. They don't like the status quo.

At the early estimates, very early unofficial numbers, there is around 75 Hillary Clinton supporters and 60 Bernie Sanders supporters and there is undecided. There was about six undecided. So those are going to be key as soon as they start caucusing. You can bet that group in particular is who they are going after trying to pull them to their side. And you bet Bernie Sanders voters here will be try to pull Hillary Clinton supporters so that they have the bigger number. It is extremely tight here and we expect the action to begin here momentarily. Back to you.

COOPER: And all right. Pam, thanks very much.

Let's go to Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, the caucuses, they are getting under way right now in the Democratic side. The Republican side, we just got rejoin our viewers live pictures from inside those caucuses. We are going to show you the counting as it happens inside those caucuses.

And when we come back, we are going to share with you the results we are getting from the early entrance poll numbers and actual numbers as well because some initial Republican numbers are beginning to come in.

Much more of our special coverage right after this.


[20:27:02] BLITZER: All right. As we wait for real numbers, real votes to come in, we want to share with you what our entrance polls are now revealing. Remember, these are estimates based on interviews with a sampling of voters as they entered select caucus sites. Take a look at this. Here are the numbers from the early entrance polls.

This is a key race alert. Take a look at them. Remember, these numbers are estimates based on our survey of people going in for the entrance polls, 27 percent for Donald Trump, 22 percent for Ted Cruz, 21 percent for Marco Rubio, Ben Carson is nine percent. Remember, this is an early estimate. These are estimates based on a survey of voters as they were coming in to various caucus site. The final outcome, I want to stress this, the final outcome may be different. It's important to note that these first results come from interviews with caucus goers who arrived early. And I also want to remind our viewers that experienced have shown, those who show up early at caucuses may vote differently than those who arrived later. So this is an early sense of what we are getting from the CNN numbers. A close race between second and third. Donald Trump slightly ahead in first among the Republicans.

Let's go back to Jake and Dana for more.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. Well, the first reaction I have is wow. We are actually at the point where the voters are actually coming forward and saying who they choose and not just by going to rallies but by actually voting in caucuses. And Donald Trump, six months ago, who would have ever expected that he would be leading just in preliminary numbers, obviously, in his entrance polls, but leading. Here he is speaking in West Des Moines at a caucus precinct. Let's take a listen to him.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everything that we are doing has been wrong. We made so many bad decisions. You look at the Iran deal that we just made. We are giving away $150 billion. We did nothing. We owe $19 trillion and the budget that we just approved, they got approved in literally hours is worth $2 trillion. It funds everything that all of us in this room don't want to see it fund. We will strengthen our borders. We are going to build a wall. (INAUDIBLE). You will pay for a wall.


TRUMP: We are going to bring our country back. When I started this journey, an amazing journey on the cover of "Time" magazine this year and people are talking about all of this, not just me. They are talking about us and what's happening. To take our country back and run it the way it's supposed to be run. It's a great country and we are not going to make the mistakes. We are not going to.

Remember this. I am not getting anything from all the special interests. I am funding my own campaign. It is called self-funding. I'm doing my own. So I'm not going to be told by Ford or by anybody else what to do. I'm doing the right thing for you. I don't need any money. I don't want them (INAUDIBLE).


[20:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... interest some for these, funding ways that campaign. I'm doing my own. So I won't be told by force or by anybody else what to do. I'm doing the right thing for you. I don't need their money and I don't want their money. Are those in great big company, one of the great companies? Something greatest assets of the world and so whenever I say that, not into break our country on, I say it because that the kind of thinking our country needs, we are in trouble, but we can turn it around we're going to make America great again. And thank you all. Thank you.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right that was Donald Trump speaking in West Des Moines in Iowa, at a precinct. The caucuses are going on right now. Let's turn to the other side of the aisle and visit a Democratic caucus. All right, Pamela Brown is at the site of one of them. Pamela, were are you? What's going on were you are?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're at this caucus site here Des Moines, Iowa. Eight years ago, with one for Barack Obama today our early estimates barely early estimates show that 58 percent are in favor of Hillary, 42 percent in favor of Bernie Sanders, but the numbers are still fluid. 57-43, those numbers are changing and here are the undecided groups.

Watch as this unfolds. So this is what caucusing is all about because you have both the Sanders as well as the Clinton side getting in here and trying to sway their opinions. Trying to convince them that their candidate is the one to go for and it's extremely important especially right now because it's so tight between both sides.

The voters here, who were undecided and the one Martin O'Malley voter could makes the difference and put either Sanders over the top or Hillary Clinton let her maintain for lead he has right now, the very narrow lead at this particular caucus site. And see we have a Sanders supporter, right here speaking to a Hillary supporter. We've heard the fact that they say you know "Hillary will continue what Obama's legacy if you vote for her and go on this side, you know she will do what you wanted to do".

We spoke to this one undecided voter, right here, "He said, I want to vote for Bernie Sanders, that's why I leading toward, my concern is that if I vote for him, that he is not going to make it to the long haul so I'm thinking about Hillary Clinton."

So you've seen this all play out, right now were they're trying to convince them. Again these voters , right here could make the difference tonight for Bernie Sanders or for Hillary Clinton. We are keeping as close eye on the numbers and I'm keeping a close eye on these conversations, at these the voters know the different camps voters and they will have to duke it out because it's extremely tight and competitive. Back to you.

TAPPER: Democracy in action in Des Moines that Pamela brown at the Democratic Caucus site and who those on O'Malley supporters end up going for could actually make the difference in some of these high races.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. It is such a fascinating game of political chess, this caucus sites because of the on the practice on the Democratic side. It there are decisions being made on the fly by the Clinton campaign and by the Sanders campaign about whether or not they should send their own voters, work at their own voters to go give Martin O'Malley more of a boost so we get that 15 percent especial because that could open hurt Bernie Sanders and that and same thing is going on vice-versa.

So these are things happening in realtime that done incredibly complicated and they are but it just gives you a sense of how dynamic and organic these caucuses are.

TAPPER: And with the anecdotal reports that turn out his way up and some key precincts. Really, anything could happen. Let's go back to Wolf Blitzer, who's in Washington, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Chief race anything could still happen. And Jake thanks very much. As we wait for real votes to come in and they will come in with at very soon, we want to share with you what are in "post polls" are revealing. Once again these are estimates based on interviews with a sampling of voters that entered select caucus sites. Here is the numbers on the Democratic side.

Right now this early snapshot, Hillary Clinton the 50 percent, Bernie Sanders, 44 percent, Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland Governor 3 percent. Remember, this is an early snapshot, these are estimates based on our survey of voters as they were going into this Democratic caucus sites.

The final outcome, I have to stress the final outcome may be different and it's important to note that the first results that come from interviews with caucus goers who arrived early. Experience has shown us that those who show up at caucus sites the earliest may vote differently with those who arrive later.

I want to go back to Pamela Brown, she's at a Democratic caucus site in Des Moines right now, Pamela what are you seeing?

BROWN: A lot of excitement here at the caucus site, you just saw how the different camps are trying to persuade the undecided voters and four of them have gone over to the Hillary side and they went over to lots of clapping and lots of cheers. But the sanders side is not giving up. They hope that in the next 30-minute window they will have time to convince some of the Hillary supporters right here on the site to come over to their side and that would put them over the top to win this caucus site tonight.

It is far from over but as you just saw, four undecided voters were persuaded, were convinced to go over to the Hillary side and there are still two that say they're undecided, they're uncommitted and so the next 30 minutes will still be crucial for them.

[20:35:12] Back to you.

BLITZER: And people are speaking now, their trying to convince, various people to change their minds. Is that right, Pamela?

BROWN: That's going to happen shortly. So they had a five-minute window to convince these undecided voters to go to one side or the other and now your going to see through the caucusing play out where the tow sides will talk to each other and try to persuade one side to come to the other. And so were source would have an early stages of the process here at this particular caucus site in Des Moines but I have to point out there is 141 people here.

Last year there around 100, so record turn out of almost 50 first caucus goers and then majority of them were voting for Bernie Sanders and there were a lot of younger voters as well that we've seen here, all of those younger voters voting for Bernie. And here we see these playing out, this one undecided voter here in the turquoise is she talking to the Bernie Sanders supporter right here on the block, he is trying to convince her to go to the Bernie sanders side and then we have a Hillary supporter, right here that the precincts have them for Hillary stand trying to get in there and get her argument in to come to their side.

So it's really incredible to see this democracy in action. They still came here with their arguments in place and they are playing it out right now. Back to you.

BLITZER: Interesting stuff. I want to go to Tom Foreman, right now she's at Coralville another Democratic caucus site. And Tom I take it -- are they counting people already over there?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly what they're doing right now. Walk down this way, you'll see this woman with a stack of cards in her hand where the cards she's collecting from voters in the Hillary Clinton camp. They're going to count those to get a sense of how many were there. They also have over here to turn a right around a man doing the same thing for the Bernie Sanders camp. He's collecting cards for that.

Once again those gather along with the cards that have been collected for Martin O'Malley and that to make it reaches the total of 416 people in the room, Wolf, if they get that and they will know which group has reached viability. Every group here has to reach at least 63 voters to be viable to continue, Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Tom. Tom Foreman over there in a Democratic caucus. All right were getting the first real votes now of these the 2016 presidential campaign. Right now I want to share this votes with you.

All right, this is a key race alert on the Republican side, very, very early but actual votes are in. They're now being counted for the first time in this 2016 presidential race. Ted Cruz his 10 points, 10 votes ahead of Donald Trump, 35 to 33 percent and look at the numbers are very, very small. Marco Rubio, 12 percent, Ben Carson, 10 percent, very early 1 percent of those the caucus sites now reporting, Ted Cruz slightly ahead of Donald Trump but once again, very, very early.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton very early 4 percent of the caucus site reporting, 52 percent early with Clinton. Bernie Sanders 46 percent, and Martin O'Malley lay down in only 2 percent. But remember these are very, very early numbers. But these are the first real numbers actual votes in this the 2016 presidential race. Let's go back to the political director, David Chalian were looking at more numbers as well.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the key numbers that you and I were looking for tonight on the republican side were evangelical Christians. We know that they drive the Republican caucus going electorate. Take a look at this, 63 percent of the Republican that showed up tonight or Evangelical Christians. That is higher than we saw in 2012. They drove Rick Santorum to victory then. 63 percent, the candidates have expanded the universe of this force within the Iowa GOP.

Take a look at how they break by the candidates, this may be the most fascinating number of the night, 26 percent of Cruz, 24 percent of Trump, 21 percent for Rubio, 12 percent for Carson. Do you -- that is a three-way split there among evangelical Christians, Donald Trump have been saying all along that the evangelicals love him and we know it was part of Ted Cruz's base. But with them splitting the vote among evangelicals like that, that is what is going to make this race, so competitive.

Let's look at how it is among non-evangelicals and how they voted. Trump has a big lead here, 32 percent to Rubio's 23 percent to Cruz's 15 percent among non-evangelicals on the Republican side, for that's split among evangelicals. That is got to be worrisome if Cruz headquarters. They wanted to run up the margins among evangelical Christians as you know. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are taking equal shares. So that is a warning sign for Cruz.

BLITZER: What about on the Democratic side? What are we seeing there?

CHALIAN: Well, what's driving the democratic race? Barack Obama is a big part of it. Take a look at these, we asked Democrats, what should the next present do, continue Obama's policies, 56 percent said that should happen. That's why we've been hearing by Barck Obama, mentioned on the campaign trail by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders so much.

32 percent want to go to a more liberal direction than Barack Obama.

[20:40:02] That's probably good news there for Bernie sanders, 7 percent want less liberal. And what are the issues that are most important to Democratic voters tonight, the economy and jobs and health care equally at top there and just behind them, income inequality. That is why at the Democratic debate they have sound a very different than the Republican debate. Those are the issues that we've been hearing, Bernie sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley talking about.

BLITZER: Terrorism surprisingly pretty low.

CHALIAN: Pretty low, it is not being a driving force inside the Democratic race on Republican side it has been talked about a lot more. But yes, this is -- it is may perhaps it just happened right after San Bernardino and Paris that number would be at least, we saw that happen in the polls at that time but and it reverted back to the sort of the base issues of the Democratic Electorate.

BLITZER: Nice, we got the first real numbers coming in. We got early entrance polls snapshot, I want to go back Jake and Dana, analyze for us what we just saw.

TAPPER: What's fascinating, obviously, these are not complete inference poll results it's about halfway through the polling results, but it does give us a good bunch of information top look at. And first of all what's fascinating, a huge turn out by evangelicals but they are splitting, they're not all ...

BASH: You bet.

TAPPER: ... you would think that Ted Cruz would put so much on evangelicals and relying so much on them. His only a 26 percent, Trumps at 24, Rubio, like a bullet, 21 percent.

BASH: That's right, that he is doing well, Rubio, but let's focused on Donald Trump.

TAPPER: And the very fact.

BASH: And the very fact that he is -- that he's got a quarter of people of who call themselves evangelicals. Its mind blowing because he is, you know, just recently he has been going to church and making a big deal out of it. But I was in an event with him and Jerry Falwell Jr. who sat on the campaign trail with him for the past few days. And Falwell said something that I think really resonated with a lot of people there which is "If you have a sick child, you take that child to the best doctor. You don't ask that doctor whether not they go to your church."

And I'm here -- I heard that anecdotally, I'm sure you did too from people who call themselves born again, an evangelicals they say, "This time it's just not the most important thing, the most important thing is getting somebody new and fresh and not a politician".

TAPPER: Fascinating, Sarah Palin saying the same thing to me ...

BASH: That's right.

TAPPER: ... earlier today one of the Trumps biggest Sarah that he says "Who am I to judge the faith of others. We want somebody who's going to be a good president". And that's what evangelicals are looking for.

BASH: And the context here is what we should say is more even covering that this caucuses, four years ago and eight years ago from in particular, shares my values whether not it is the Republican with the God fearing Christians, that was much more important than it seems to be this time.

TAPPER: All right, were going to talk about the democratic exit polls or entrance polls rather in a second, but right now were hearing wild cheers from a caucus of democratic caucus site, Tom Foreman, is in Coralville. At Tom, what's going on?

FOREMAN: Yeah, they're very excited here. The first count appears to be coming to a close and it looks like currently if you look at the numbers appear with a live realtime counting the voters here, with 53 percent over Hillary Clinton, 42 percent for Bernie Sanders in this room, 3 percent for Martin O'Malley over here. That's will be going to indicate that Martin O'Malley probably is going to fall in the enviable area base on the math we have so far.

So that's what all the cheering that is in as a result were coming in the two sides are cheering, the news of what their candidate has done. And you can see again, the realtime numbers as its happening right here in this caucus. And now they head into the next vote and they figure out and they are going to realize with the other sides.

TAPPER: Good news for Hillary Clinton as of Coralville in East Central Iowa. And that seems to match up with some of the information we're getting from the entrance polls that shows that a majority of the Democratic voters caucus goers at this evening Dana, want to continue Obama's policies. 56 percent while only 32 percent want a more liberal direction that would seem to be how Bernie Sanders is positioning himself with former secretary Clinton positioning herself as continuing Obama's policies. Wolf, back to you in Washington.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. We're getting ready for another key race alert. Take a look at this. These are real numbers very early, 2 percent on the Republican side but Donald Trump he is ahead by seven votes right now. He has 691 votes to 684 for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio got a 282, Ben Carson, 198. So remember this is still so early only 2 percent, these numbers obviously could easily change but these are actual numbers coming in from Iowa.

On the Democratic side, they are counting it more quickly 9 percent of the caucus sites have now reported Hillary Clinton ahead 53 percent Bernie Sanders 46 percent and Martin O'Malley only at 1 percent, now remember these numbers are very, very early, but these are actual numbers and not the entrance poll numbers. These are actual numbers coming in we're about to get a whole lot more.

[20:45:00] Stay with us. We'll be right back.


[20:48:13] BLITZER: All right. They're still trying to make their case. Take a look at this Ted Cruz is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said the Republican caucus is trying to make his case they are getting actually count of numbers in act Iowa another Republican caucus. They are getting intense over there right now. Right now, I want to share with you our latest key raise alert.

All right the numbers are coming off by Ted Cruz, now slightly taking the lead with 4 percent of the caucus sites reporting 31 percent for Ted Cruz, 30 percent for Donald Trump and only 45 votes ahead. 16 percent for Marco Rubio, 9 percent for Dr. Ben Carson a very, very early. Only 4 percent of the caucus sites reporting these numbers will change. On the Democratic side, they are doing a lot a little bit more quickly 13 percent of the Caucus side reporting so far. Hillary Clinton maintaining her lead, 52 percent to 46 percent over Bernie Sanders, 1 percent for Martin O'malley.

Let's walk over to John King. He's over here from the magic wall, let's take a closer look. First of all what were seeing on the Republican side?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": Very early, Wolf, as you noted just four percent of the vote count it the match start to fill in. It shows you cream and red. The dark red as we follow this through the nigh, the darker red is Donald Trump. This letter shade of red here the bright red that is Marco Rubio and the orange color that you see up here is Ted Cruz.

So, what do you see happening? Ted is beginning to fill in up here. This is a key area for him all the way up here. This is the key battle ground over here. Let me take you back in time and show you what I mean but that.

We will go back to 2012 in the Mitt Romney race. Ted Cruz needs this. All right that's what he was running. I'm sure these are small evangelical counties. Out here, more evangelical counties but Romney did have some plan here more mainline establishment Republicans as we watch that play out.

Now, let's come back to the live result as they come in. Rubio winning here to the East of De Moines relatively small county though and a close race only 10 percent of the voting. But look at that split 26, 24, 23 as you start to count the votes.

[20:50:03] If you look at the early results, what does it tell you? It tells you right now Donald Trump is doing well where he needs to. Polk County, the biggest population center in the state this where the most votes are for both the Democrats in the Republicans. But, again, look 35, 34.

Ben Carson running third right now. Polk County at eight percent, so when you look at right now will voters it shape at that? This not installing the way Donald Trump wants it to. But the result are very early in Ted Cruz as key as you see more of this, Ted Cruz has the match to Rick Santorum maps. See all of that gold, that's if you are winning the Evangelicals, that's what you get.

This pink from four years ago as Ron Paul the interesting point will be is who gets those votes this time right now. Right now, Cruz is winning up here in similar Ron Paul areas. We going to watch this from play out at the moment.

Again if Donald Trump in keep Polk County the biggest one dark red, and he can do well over here. And you will see the rapids in that they having for. And he stops in the race at the moment as we count him up to four percent that's about us close to get.

Now we switch over to the other sides and starting to fill it in. The results were actually coming in pretty quick 15 percent on the Democratic sites. Ignore the numbers, forgive me I know it's hard to follow the home. These numbers to the left to the percentages or state delegates percentage within the state of Iowa. That's the state party rule focus on the percentages when we deal with Democrats throughout the night.

Secretary Clinton at the moment 53 percent, Sanders at 46, O'Malley at one. Again she is doing what she needs to do in the early count. Remember very early count 13 percent of Polk County that's Warren County. Let me drop here 3 percent only, only 3 percent of Polk County sometimes this county counts slow.

Many late night ...

BLITZER: But Des Moines is ...

KING: ... with this one. Des Moines and the suburbs around Des Moines in that's biggest population center, but a big lead for Secretary Clinton in the very early County. Again only 3 percent but that's what she needs to do and she needs to run strong her in the east as well.

In complete results so far, she is beginning to Philadelphia and why do I say she needs to run strong her because of this. This was were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton he also want not only in psychology campus but in Polk County were Clinton is now leading if you come to the 2016 results.

So, again were very early the last thing we want to do is get ahead of ourselves. As the map starts to fill in, at this moment 17 percent of the states why voting, they are very happy in the campaign of courser but it will underline at this moment.

BLITZER: They are moving, they are moving a little bit quickly on the Democratic side. A little bit more slowly on the Republican side right only four percent of the Caucus sites reporting right now. I want to go to Pamela Brown. She is on clock slight, Pamela you are in Des Moines, Iowa. Tell us what you are seeing over there. I think they have actually counted the numbers? Is that right?

BROWN: That's absolutely right and Hillary Clinton won these Caucus sites 52 percent to 47 percent. It's a big win for Hillary, let me correct myself 57 percent to 42 percent. This is a big win for Hillary Clinton because eight years ago she lost to Barack Obama here at this Caucus sites. But, today is a different story.

We spoke to several Obama voters who came here eight years ago who this year said that the campaign really made a difference. The Clinton campaign they feel like she is the leader for them. And that she is going to be able to do the job and we saw the undecided the majority of them came over to the Clinton camp ones they have persuaded to come over and want O'Malley supporter also came to the Clinton camp.

So a big win for Hillary Clinton but I should say, though there more young voters at this particular Caucus site, it excuse voter so it's not necessarily representative of the other Caucus sites across Iowa. Back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Hillary Clinton did well in that Caucus site where you are Pamela. What about our republican Caucus, Brian Todd is joining as right now. Brian you are in Ankeny, Iowa, what's going on there?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will the first moment of truth is that hand right now. This is the voting they just get last call for he ballots. Look they stop the mall into these popcorn baskets and people are still putting them into the baskets over here. They just did last calls so were getting the final ballot. This is also where the counting is going to be going on. This table right here in just a few minutes, look they are stopping. This is what a capacity crowd looks like as the ballots are being put into the basket they're going to be counting manually in just a few minutes.

We will be going to bringing you that count in real time. That's what makes this so exciting. Real time voting if you're looking at it, real time counting live on international television. This is what Caucusing looks like, folks. And again I just can't emphasize how dynamic this crowd is. It was filled to capacity. Some of them have started leaving and some of them are going to hang around to see what the count looks like. This is where it gets exciting.

CHALIAN: The first real votes of this for 2016 presidential campaign here in United States. I want to go Jim Sciutto, he is in the Republican Caucus site as well. Jim Sciutto you are in Green Field, Iowa I see some people talking behind you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Caucus cheering on the back to hit my voice down because the proceedings are underway they just call it to order here. I'm going to ask my camera man just to pen around a little bit here as you see standing them only this is by day the high school band room.

[20:55:00] This is the way Caucuses work. They high school gym, they use the band room, they use the library that's where people come to vote.

But this is twice as many people here this year that will here four years ago twice as many in this precinct. They did a little show of hands here like you may remember we did a little earlier in the larger room of new first time Caucus goers and again, about half the people here raised their hand first time.

Some of the young people some of the folks taking part for the first time in a GOP Caucus. And, so this table right here where the counting is going to take place. They going to start will fill out the ballots just in a couple of minutes, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much. We have another key race alert. Let's show our viewers what we know right now. These are actual votes on the Republic sides, Ted Cruz maintaining a slight advantage over Donald Trump right now with 7 percent of the Caucus sites reporting. He has a 150 more votes than Donald Trump does 30 percent, 29 percent Marco Rubio a close third with 18 percent. 10 percent for Dr. Ben Carson but still only 7 percent of the Caucus sites reporting so far. Cruz a slight lead over Donald Trump.

On the Democratic sites were counting the numbers a little bit more quickly. Lets to go those numbers right now were 21 percent of the Caucus sites on the Democratic site reporting and let's get the numbers back up on the screen. Right now there they are on Democratic side, Hillary Clinton 53 percent, Bernie Sanders 47 percent. Martin O'Malley it looks likes zero percent right now. And apparently the next to threshold the viability number right there but, that's a significant development right there.

21 percent of the Caucus precincts in Iowa on the Democratic side reporting right now close 53, 47 percent. Let's go back to Jake and Dana for more. Jake, this significant that numbers are coming in relatively quick.

TAPPER: That's right although as you point out number a number of times this very growing numbers can be a bit misleading. But they do give us an idea of how tough the Democratic race how hard far it's been been. It's really going to be very very tight and the reason is still between Cruz and Trump at the top are strong showing by Marco Rubio.

Dana, lets talk about expectations, where the candidates needs to come out this evening. Obviously if we say there are three tickets out of Iowa that's not really the case on the Democratic side. There really aren't three tickets out of Iowa.