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Decision Day In Iowa Where Voters Are Taking Part In Caucuses; Some Caucuses Already Underway At Satellite Locations In and Outside Of The State; Awaiting Results From Caucuses. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 3, 2020 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's decision day in Iowa where voters are taking part in caucuses. You're looking at some live pictures coming in from one of the caucuses in Des Moines, caucuses that could shake up the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center.

We're closing in on the official start of the first contest of the 2020 election. Most caucuses begin across Iowa, about two hours from now. Eleven Democratic candidates are hoping to stand out from the pack, only one will come out on top. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, they are the leading contenders in Iowa. They're bracing for a close battle tonight.

Some caucuses are already underway at satellite locations in and outside of the state. We're awaiting results from caucuses happening right now in Des Moines, Iowa, St. Petersburg, Florida, also in Queen Creek, Arizona, that's near Phoenix.

Let's go to Jeff Zeleny. He's in Des Moines at one of those so-called satellite caucuses. Are you getting some results, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We are, Wolf. And what we're seeing now is a realignment in real time. There were two candidate preference groups, the Warren campaign and the Sanders campaign who were viable here. Those were the only two candidates who were viable. So now, there are other supporters who are moving around and seeing where they are going to go.

We should point out, Wolf, this is a snapshot in time. This is one location, this is one satellite caucus. Not indicative, as far as we know, of what is going to happen tonight. It is just one location. But it's clear there's a lot of enthusiasm for the Sanders' campaign, not surprising. They're closing the campaign strong, no question. But we are watching now the realignment.

You can see some people moving back and forth. There's a little bit of discussion going on, as you can see, with the Bernie Sanders supporter, perhaps trying to convince supporter for Pete Buttigieg to come on to their side. The Buttigieg campaign in this particular satellite caucus was not viable.

It took 11 people to be viable. They had around 9 or so under a preliminary count, so now there is some conversations and horse trading. Let's look over here to the Warren campaign, also some conversations going on here with some Sanders supporters and Warren supporters.

Wolf, again, just a snapshot in time as these satellite caucuses are unfolding. We'll come back to you when we have the numbers from the Drake Fieldhouse. Wolf?

BLITZER: You know, before you go, Jeff, I want you to explain what a viable candidate means and what realignment means right now, because we're going to be hearing a lot of that over the course of the next several hours.

ZELENY: We are, indeed. And in a satellite caucus, the rules are slightly different. So let's talk about the rules of the caucuses overall tonight. The rules are that a candidate has to have 15 percent support in most caucuses in the room to be viable. If they are not viable, if they don't have 15 percent support, then the second choice begins to be incredibly important.

And what that means is, if -- like here, this afternoon, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg was not viable, so then some of his supporters were going to other places. I can see right now, Wolf, follow me here with my photojournalist, Andy, can come with me, there are some people going over to the Sanders campaign, so that's where some of the conversations and horse trading comes into play.

This is just a preview of what we're going to see tonight on a much larger scale here. At this very location, there are going to be perhaps more than 500 people gathering and all the campaigns are certainly working to organize that. But viability and second choice, so important, we are keeping an eye on those second choice decisions tonight, for candidates who aren't viable. That could boost someone --

BLITZER: All right, hold on for a moment there, Jeff.

ZELENY: So just a snapshot here, a bit of a test run.

BLITZER: We've got the results from the first round over where you are. And you could take a look at this. Bernie Sanders, 60.6 percent, Elizabeth Warren, 21.1 percent, but everybody else below that, 15 percent margin, Pete Buttigieg, 11.3 percent, Andrew Yang, 4.2 percent, Klobuchar, 1.4 percent.

So those who support Buttigieg, Yang and Klobuchar, they have options right now. They're not going to be viable, these three candidates. They're not going to go to the second round. At this one caucus only, Jeff, explain what's happening now. What are their options, those who went for the non-viable candidates?

ZELENY: So what is happening now, if you are supporting a non-viable candidate, then you make another choice. So just eyeballing some of them, some of them went over to Senator Warren's campaign. We will find out here in a short period of time what the count is in the second round of counting to see where they all went. But there was -- the interesting part about this is the persuasion aspect at these caucuses. These precinct captains have been trained by these campaigns to approach someone whose favorite candidate did not make the cut, and try and win them over. So you can see, you know, a lot of the discussions, I'm trying to go have a conversation with the one person who is standing for Joe Biden. Let's see if we can chat with him for one second.


Hey, Jared (ph), excuse me. If I can talk to you live on CNN.

JARED (ph): Sure.

ZELENY: So you were supporting Joe Biden. You are the only person in your row. Who did you realign with?

JARED (ph): Well, Mayor Pete, but we're one short right now, and we're not sure that there's anyone we can take from with the new rules. So --

ZELENY (ph): Right, right. So why did you decide Mayor Pete on the second round? Why?

JARED (ph): I'm more of a Moderate Democrat. I care about foreign policy and I think both Biden and Mayor Pete are the two strongest on foreign policy in my view.

ZELENY: Right. Thank you very much. So, Wolf, that is just a snapshot here of the conversations going on. They are trying to make the Buttigieg campaign viable by getting up to 11 people in this precinct.

So, again, consider this a test run, if you will, a preview of what we'll see tonight in nearly 1,700 precincts across the state of Iowa, when there are these conversations going on, back and forth. Again, second choice, so valuable, one of the most important positions and certainly a weighty position here.

So, Wolf, we'll send it back to you as we await this realignment here to see if anyone else becomes viable. As of now, after the first round, certainly Bernie Sanders strong in this precinct. But again, we should point out, this is one satellite caucus, not indicative of the state as a whole. Those caucuses start this evening. Wolf?

BLITZER: From what I saw, a lot of young people there. Quick question, Jeff, we see Buttigieg, 11.3 percent. He's not viable. He didn't reach that 15 percent threshold. What about the Yang supporters and the Klobuchar supporters. I assume they're trying to attract them. And if they get together, they could potentially make Buttigieg viable?

ZELENY: Indeed, they could. And that's -- they're one person short. And actually, I heard someone say they were looking for that Andrew Yang supporter. And that is the other key thing to watch tonight. If you're non-viable, do you stay in the room and go with someone else or go home, do you leave because your candidate was not viable. So that is an important thing to keep an eye on here. But we should point out that this is -- certainly some young people here, but these are, you know, intended for people who have jobs this evening. So we are expecting, since we are on the campus of Drake University, more students coming tonight. And the Andrew Yang supporters actually won the mock caucus, a trial run earlier in the week.

So again, we should point out that -- what's happening now is not necessarily foreshadowing what's to come here tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Important point, all right. Stand by, we'll get back to you. I want to get to Dianne Gallagher. She's over in St. Petersburg, Florida.

It looks, Dianne, they're just beginning right now this process in St. Petersburg. The voting continues.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's Right, Wolf. And I'm back here right now as we're trying to kind of keep the area quiet as they pass out these instructions. They have just now given out those preference cards to the 104 voters, Iowa registered Democrats here in St. Petersburg, Florida.

We had a bit of a delay dealing with the location that we were at here. They have since gotten that figured out. We're in the room and expecting to be starting relatively soon. They got most of the procedural stuff out of the way at this point.

We've been speaking with some of the voters here. A lot of them who spend part of their time in Florida, because the winters are cold in Iowa, but there are also college students who are here, as well as people who happen to be visiting family. They were on vacation. So this is something that as you can listen to them right now, as they're trying to get through.

They voted to go ahead and move into their positions first, before they hear from any sort of voters or representatives from the particular candidates, campaigns, and then they're going to listen to those speeches before they decide if they want to go ahead and move again.

So this has been pretty orderly, as it goes right now. Again, they have a pretty large number of people who have chosen to come out to this. People I talked to were so excited. They were taking selfies and were waiting to get underway in the next couple of minutes here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Looks like a bunch of snowbirds down there in St. Petersburg. Dianne, we're going to get the results of that caucus, 104 Iowa voters in St. Petersburg, Florida. Much more of our coverage right after this.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper with Dana Bash. We are in Des Moines at the CNN headquarters for the Iowa caucuses.

Right now, you are looking at a satellite caucus at Drake University, and satellite caucuses are not the official caucuses. These are the smaller caucuses, some of them in Florida, some of them in France. This one is for shift workers who will not be able to make the caucuses later this evening.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: That's right. And our Jeff Zeleny is there. And he's been -- Jeff, you've been watching as the first round ends and as the sort of toing and froing has begun, really aggressively, to bring the people who supported candidates who were not viable. I mean, they didn't get 15 percent over to other candidates. What does it look like now?

TAPPER: Right.

ZELENY: Dana, this is a fascinating caucus 101, if you will. I'm standing next to Gabe (ph), who is a student at Drake University, who was just getting the hard sell from a Bernie Sanders volunteer.

Gabe (ph) came here tonight to caucus for Pete Buttigieg. He was not viable, so that makes Gabe's (ph) vote up for grabs. So, Gabe (ph), what was the sales pitch that you were just getting moments ago from the Sanders official?

GABE (ph), STUDENT: He was going after the "I'm more moderate," and going after the very liberal aspects of Sanders.

ZELENY: What questions did you have for him?

GABE (ph): I really didn't have any. I was more -- I'm trying to convince other people to go here. But --

ZELENY: And you just told me that you're probably not likely to go to Sanders. You're going to do what?

GABE (ph): I think I might go to Warren if Pete can't be viable.

ZELENY: And why is that?

GABE (ph): I really like, as a student, the student debt thing, but her energy that she brings. I think she has a better chance to beat President Trump.

ZELENY: So, Gabe (ph), we're going to follow you and watch what you do.


So, Jake and Dana, that is just a snapshot in time here. Let's walk over to the Bernie Sanders supporters. You can see in the corner of the room, the next round of counting is going to be underway. They seem to be pretty supportive of this.

Certainly, there are some other supporters from other campaigns who did, indeed, embrace that message and they are indeed going for Bernie Sanders. So the Sanders campaign, certainly the loudest tonight, but we do not know what the second alignment was. So it's important to know, as we prepare for this evening, applause and enthusiasm certainly is important, but the votes are the most important thing.

And I can also, let's just turn back around here to the Warren campaign. Certainly, it's bigger than it was before. Certainly, at least my eyeball does not look like it's as big as the Sanders' campaign, but we'll send it back to you, Jake and Dana, as we hear the counting that's underway right now.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny at Drake University, a lot of people in that room obviously feeling "The Bern," as it were. And just to remind our viewers what's going on. First, there is a first count where everyone goes into the room and huddles with the people who are with the candidate they support.

So Sanders over there, Warren over there, Buttigieg over there, your group needs to reach a 15 percent threshold, 15 percent of all the people caucusing. If your group, your candidate, has not reached that threshold, then you are not viable. You've not reached the viability threshold. And that means that you have to go find someone else to join or you can just go home.

And a lot of people -- and also what's new this year, is the people that you -- the candidate you commit to early on, you're locked in. You have to stay with that candidate. There's no swapping, there's no -- some people thought it was mischief-making kind of in the past --

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: -- when people would caucus with the Sanders supporters, and then shift to Clinton or whatever.

BASH: That's right. And actually, we're going to see that happening, not the mischief-making but the shifting going on as we speak. I want to go to Sara Sidner who is in Arizona, at one of the satellite caucuses that we've been watching.

Sara, what's going on there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are all sitting, and I just want to give you an idea. Lots of folks here filling up the theater seats, they are all starting to talk to their captains, and they're about to start counting. They will do a head count first, but there have been speeches already that we have listened to.

Folks standing up and speaking for Biden, and Warren, and Buttigieg, and Klobuchar, all of their impassioned speeches here. They are now passing along the cards that they will also use to count the final count. But you are seeing people sit among the group that they have chosen to caucus for. That is what's happening here in Arizona and everyone is just getting ready to get the counting started.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Sidner in Queen Creek, Arizona. We're going to go now to St. Petersburg, Florida where Dianne Gallagher is. And just so you understand, this is the first year that the Iowa Democrats have done this. They're going to satellite offices, where residents of Iowa who just happen to not be in Iowa, are caucusing. Dianne Gallagher, what's going on where you are?

GALLAGHER: Hey, Jake, yes. So right now, they have just broken into their first preference candidates at this point. So we're going to walk around.

Right now, they're busy electing who they want to sort of lead this particular candidate area. People are coming through and counting. We have been instructed by the leader here that we can't interview them while they're doing this. She wants to stay as by the book as possible, because this is a new thing for them.

She said she doesn't want the satellite caucuses to be upset or messed up in any sort of way. But you can see, we've got those who are caucusing here, we're signing this, for Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar over there in the corner.

We're standing right here by the Joe Biden people who want that. Across from us right now, and I'm going to get George to turn around. We've got Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang in the corner here.

Now, some people who were told that their candidate may not already be viable. They have mentioned Tulsi Gabbard. We're told to stay sitting here in the middle right now and they're going to move forward afterward.

We are doing these a little differently at these particular caucuses. They voted to hear from the people who want to persuade you after they've already broken off into this -- into their respective corners right now. So they've been moving around, the wheeling and dealing is going to be happening in the next few moments here.

But again, they've talked to me about how important something like this is to them. We're late. This has taken about an hour-and-a-half from when people first started catching up.

And I want you to hear, you can see they're kind of -- again, the political spirit that we've seen here --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dream big, fight hard. Elect the first female president.

GALLAGHER: And you can, again, just kind of get the experience and the vibe here in St. Petersburg, Florida. A lot of people who are here spend much of their winter in Florida that we've spoken to, Jake, snowbirds or snowhawks, if you will -- watch out, there, George, for that chair.


And they've said that -- some of them haven't been able to go back and caucus. I spoke into some other voters who say that they use frequent flyer miles, or just coughed it up and had to eat the cost of flying back there. Now, just because they haven't been able to fly, they've already seen -- all right, here we go.


GALLAGHER: All right. And I'm going to send it back to you guys as they're still trying to figure this out before the speeches began. But we're getting underway here in St. Petersburg, Florida for the first satellite caucus that they're experiencing.

TAPPER: All right, Diane Gallagher with some snowbirds from Iowa in St. Petersburg, Florida. We're going to squeeze in another quick break. We'll come back and cover more of this first round of caucusing in the satellite caucuses. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Results from the satellite caucus at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Jeff Zeleny is there. How many participated Iowa voters and what are the results?

ZELENY: Wolf, we do have the results from this satellite caucus at the Drake Fieldhouse at Drake University. And these are the overall numbers. Take a look at these.

Bernie Sanders winning this satellite caucus with a 67.7 percent of the people participating here, Elizabeth Warren coming in second in this satellite caucus with 32.4 percent.

And it was interesting in the realignment, which we saw just a short time ago, seven individual people here went to the Warren campaign. Three individual people went to the Sanders campaign on realignment, so we do not know, of course, if that will be the center of the evening.

But let's just walk through the Fieldhouse here and you can see the Bernie Sanders supporters are leaving now. A lot of them, as it turns out, were actual campaign workers. Because they do live in Des Moines, they have been working here for some long time.

So you can here behind here, and this, of course, also actually now is a minimum wage protest that has just happened spontaneously. We've seen them all across the country pushing for $15 minimum wage.

But back to the caucus here, Wolf, so interesting. Again, not representative, necessarily, of what is going to be happening in just about an hour or so time in nearly 1,700 locations across the state. But the process is the same.

So things to watch tonight, watch that second choice and watch that negotiation there. I am told by aides to the Buttigieg campaign and the Biden campaign, and others that they are prepared to make those arguments to potentially other candidates who aren't viable. We should point out, in this satellite caucus, at least, only one person showed up to support Joe Biden. He ended up going to Elizabeth Warren.

So a bit of a caucus 101 lesson here, if you will, Wolf, a bit of a primer, if you will, for what we're going to see tonight. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Dianne Gallagher right now. She's in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Dianne, there's a satellite caucus going on over there, what are you seeing?

GALLAGHER: Yes, yes. Wolf, right now, I'm going to let you take a listen in. They are -- yes, they're going to take a listen in right now, Wolf. They are trying to convince people about their candidates right now.

This is a man trying to convince other people to come and caucus for Joe Biden right now. I want you guys to take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is the one who can take out Trump, and that has to happen.

GALLAGHER: So what they're doing right now is, before they do this final count, they're trying to see if they can bring people over before the first count --

BLITZER: Counts from the first round in St. Petersburg at the satellite caucus, Klobuchar, 43.6 percent, Buttigieg, 19.8 percent. But look at this, the next three below that 15 percent threshold that they need to be so-called viable, Biden 12.9 percent, Warren, 10.9 percent, Sanders, 6.9 percent.

So they're going to -- there's going to be an effort now to convince those who were siding with Biden, Warren, Sanders, to go ahead and support one of the viable candidates, Klobuchar or Buttigieg. We'll watch this very, very closely.

Anderson, it's only just beginning.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, thanks very much. I want to talk with our panel here. You guys have been looking at kind of the age difference. I know you, Bakari, you earlier were talking about looking to see, are a lot of these caucusgoers, new time caucusgoers have they been before?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's actually one of the larger numbers that we'll see tonight. I mean, those people who are first-time caucusgoers, those people are likely bought into this process by Andrew Yang and more or so Bernie Sanders. And I think that that's going to have a huge impact.

That this is a -- and I think that you have to look at the turnout from 2008 and 2016, 2008 was the largest turnout you had. We had a young man named Barack Obama. And in 2018, you still had a bit of a bump.

So I think the turnout tonight falls somewhere in between that, but that number of first-time caucusgoers is going to be very, very important. What we're seeing is the older the voter is, the more inclined it looks to see. You would think that there -- Klobuchar voter or Biden voters. The younger the voter is, it's probably a Sanders voter or Yang voters, and tonight always ends up with what I started. We don't know what's going to happen.


CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It's worth noting, by the way, that Bernie Sanders has been open to BakarI's point. Bernie Sanders has been open about that. Look, he needs a big turnout. He needs non-traditional Democratic voters, because if it is small, certainly if it's below 2016, it's not going to be -- I don't think it's going to be 2008, just below 2016.

That looks pretty good for Joe Biden. Joe Biden is the candidate that sort of -- he's got the Vilsacks, the former governor and former first lady state. He's got two or three of the Congress people, right? So he's got the sort of what we traditionally look at as the institutional establishment player. The question is how much can Bernie Sanders grow that into people that aren't going to consider Biden.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. It's the perfect Petri dish for what we talk about every cycle, which is how can young people really show up in their numbers? We know Millennials are the largest voting bloc. Will they show up? The number is that 47 percent of these Iowa caucus-goers are allegedly going to be under 50. But will they show up in those numbers? That's going to be super interesting. And can Bernie do something that has not been done before?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What I think is fascinating is the interpersonal dynamics in the room. Because of the age splits, you have young people talking to other young people, trying to maybe make them feel like, hey, come be your own, you know, age group. And because the age splits are so big, at the end of the night, I would be fascinated to talk to some of the campaign workers to see if interpersonal dynamics in the room acted like what we see in the polling, which is young people herding around certain candidates and older people herding around others.

SELLERS: And it's just Millennials. Look, I'm a Millennial. But it's also this new burgeoning group of politically active generation Z people. They're in high school, they're 17, you can vote in the caucuses at 17, but they're also in college now. And that's where Bernie Sanders does extremely well organizing the college campuses.

And, again, at the end of the day, you said this, Governor, the number one goal is to beat Donald Trump. And to beat Donald Trump, you're going to have to infuse this electorate with younger voters, voters of color, and it's going to have take a lot of this.

So this is going to be fun. I don't know if --

GRANHOLM: I love me some of those older voters though. They are just fantastic and reliable.

SELLERS: I do too.

GRANHOLM: I'm not saying that you don't.

SELLERS: Yes, I love the older voters too.

GRANHOLM: We love both.

SELLERS: Yes, we love both. And we're seeing a wide swath of the snowbirds that are slightly older.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But Bernie also does -- I mean, he doesn't only just have young voters, right? I mean, If you look at the last time around where he was neck-and-neck with Hillary, he didn't do that just winning young voters. I mean, he was winning voters that were working class people and, you know, throughout the state.

So I think that there is this real gap for sure, but I think he has an appeal that goes beyond that.

CILLIZZA: And one thing we'll learn too is it was 4.9.9, Clinton, 49.6 Sanders last time. The thing that was different there is it was, if you didn't want Hillary, you got -- you could say, uncommitted, I suppose, with only two options. But, obviously, Bakari mentioned this earlier, you're talking about a gigantic field.

Now, not all of them will be viable, but you have Buttigieg as a potential landing spot for some. Warren, I think, as a potential landing spot. So the question is, are these people -- we know there's a bloc of Sanders people who, as Scott mentioned, are going to be with him no matter what. The issue is, is he going to be that choice for people who don't maybe want Biden or are they going to split up --

COOPER: Well, particularly with Elizabeth Warren, if she fades, do all of her voters, you think, go to Sanders?

SELLERS: I think that's a myth.

GRANHOLM: Not at all.

SELLERS: I think there's a big myth that's pervasive in the media and the Twitter atmosphere and everywhere else, that all Elizabeth Warren voters are Bernie Sanders voters and vice versa. And that's not the case. I think that she has voters who will go across the board. I think that it's not going to be a one-to-one split. And she's going to be a fascinating candidate to watch tonight.

GRANHOLM: And the other really interesting piece of information that came out this week was the number of Yang voters who will not vote for -- who have not -- who won't commit to voting for the Democrat in the general election. There's like 42 percent, a huge number, whereas if you are in Elizabeth Warren's camp or Joe Biden's camp, it's like 90 percent or above, agree to vote blue no matter who. So that's an interesting dynamic. JENNINGS: You know, the dynamic between the Warren and the Sanders people is interesting, because they are, in some ways, fishing off the same policy pier. But in a lot of ways, we're in a post-policy environment in which these elections are more determined by the gulfs we've been talking about, you know, the age gulfs we see, the gender gap we see with Trump, the rural/urban gap we see.

And so they're on the same policy pier, but is that the determinative factor tonight? That's something I would be looking at.

COOPER: Coming up, we're going to have results from satellite caucuses in St. Petersburg, Florida, Queen Creek, Arizona as our coverage of the Iowa caucuses continues after a quick break.



TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's coverage of the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses. I'm Jake Tapper in Des Moines with Dana Bash. As caucus results start to come in, we're going to break them down for you in several ways. For the first time, Iowa Democrats are reporting the results of the popular vote in two different rounds.

So this is how it's going to work. In the first round, caucus-goers declare their first choice candidate, Warren, Sanders, Biden, whomever. In the final round, voters are allowed to switch their support if their first choice doesn't get at least 15 percent support at that caucus. So we're going to be able to compare both rounds to see how the vote changed and how that may have helped the ultimate winner of that individual caucus.


In the end, the winning candidate will be the one who gets the biggest share of the state delegates. State delegates are awarded based on the final round of votes. Again, the state delegates are what matter most. We're going to be watching them very closely, all night long.

And, Dana, one of the things that's so interesting here is a number of the people, a number of the caucus-goers, they're going to support candidates who don't meet that 15 percent threshold. So -- and I'm just making it up now, a hypothetical. You would think, theoretically, okay, so let's say you're a Sanders person and your candidate doesn't make the threshold, well, then, maybe you're going to go to Liz Warren, who's also very progressive. But that's not necessarily how voters make these decisions.

BASH: It's really not. And it's funny, I was with my producer, Bridget Nolan, and we were at several events yesterday and talking to voters about this very thing. And just for example, we were at an Elizabeth Warren event, and we talked to people who said that they were Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg. We talked to a lot of people who said, Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar. Two people who consider themselves Klobuchar and Buttigieg on the more moderate side of the Democratic spectrum. So they had various reasons, but one maybe is because that they wanted a female candidate, another is just they just liked the personalities. There are so many factors that go in to the decision if the first candidate, the first choice isn't viable.

TAPPER: And the other thing that's interesting is we're going to be looking to this night about story lines, what narratives are coming out of the caucus. For example, four years ago, Ted Cruz won the Republican caucus. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic caucus. But there was such strong showings by the number twos, by Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and by Donald Trump for the Republicans that their victories, Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton were important, but the surprisingly strong showing of Sanders and Trump, and Trump, frankly, had like no organization at all, were really major storylines coming out of it, because a lot of this has to do with exceeding expectations.

BASH: So much of it has to do with that, which is why you are seeing, for example, the Biden campaign, more than I think any other campaign in the top tier, lowering expectations in a big way. I mean, they started doing that many, many months ago, not just for Iowa, but also New Hampshire.

But you're absolutely right. What we saw in Iowa really did set the scene in 2016 for the rest of the campaign on both sides of the political aisle. And we're probably going to see that now.

I believe we can go now to Sara Sidner, because we want to talk about what exactly is going on as we speak. There are satellite caucuses, we've been discussing that. This is a new thing for the Iowa Democratic Party, trying to expand these caucuses beyond the actual State of Iowa.

Sara, you are in Queen Creek, Arizona. What is happening right now at that satellite caucus?

SIDNER: So we've gotten an initial count, just of all of the people who are here, which is 162 people who showed up to caucus here. All of them, Iowa residents who were here in Arizona, a few people here just for just a couple of days, but they wanted to caucus, and so they are here.

What's happening now is they are trying to see which candidate is viable. In other words, which candidate in this very caucus here has about 15 percent of the vote, which is about 24 people. They told me, if you have 24 people, your candidate is viable and that means you stay right where you are. If there are not enough people, then you either have to decide whether you stay in other or that you go to another candidate's group.

So what you're seeing here is people are counting off. I'm going to take you over a bit. People are literally counting off to show how many people are in a caucus. This is Biden's caucus right here. They have -- you hear him say it there, 28 people.

So that would mean that the Biden caucus is viable, that they have enough people so that they can, in the next round of counting, either attract more people who have a candidate that is not viable, that does not have 15 percent of the people who are here in this room, and/or people that do not want to, they can choose someone else, but you have to have a viable group. And that means you have to have, in this particular place, in this particular satellite caucus, 24 people out of 162, 15 percent.

TAPPER: Sara, tell us more about some of the other groups, the other candidates -- Sara, tell us about some of the other viable candidates in the room. Obviously, former Vice President Joe Biden is one of them. Who else?

SIDNER: Yes. So, right now, they have not given those numbers yet, but I'm -- as you look up and look at the crowd that is sitting here, there are -- I heard someone yell out enough people for Klobuchar, for example.


But they are recounting to make absolutely sure they're counting people off. They have captains counting, and then they literally have people themselves counting. So that's what we're doing right now.

But the Biden group is the only group so far that has officially said we have 29 people, we are viable. We are waiting for Buttigieg, we are waiting for Warren. Buttigieg is coming up just now.

So everyone is getting up. Buttigieg has enough. Just take a look there.

This just gives you an idea of how they're doing it here inside this theater. Again, he clearly has 15 percent of the number of people here caucusing. And so they'll keep going like this until they figure it all out to see who's viable and who isn't. And then another count will happen -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Sidner in Queen Creek, Arizona.

Again, these are individuals at satellite caucuses. They have been pre-approved. They are Iowa Democrats. They live in Iowa, but maybe they spend their winters in Arizona or Florida and that's why they're caucusing there.

We're going to squeeze in another quick break and will be right back with more of CNN's coverage of the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Welcome back.

We're covering the Iowa caucus. Ryan Nobles is over at the Bernie Sanders headquarters with a very

special guest -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. We are joined by Dr. Jane Sanders, the wife of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

And, Dr. Sanders, thank you so much for being here. I know you've been forced into duty as a result of Senator Sanders being involved in the impeachment trial.


NOBLES: Just give me your impression of with r this campaign stands right now in the Iowa caucuses and what you expect tonight.

SANDERS: Well, it's been an honor. I'm just so grateful to the people of Iowa for their taking such interest in our democracy and really participating so fully. So, it's been -- it's been good.

I'm excited. I'm hopeful. I'm nervous. So it all comes down to tonight.

NOBLES: I mean, you were here four years ago as well.


NOBLES: Can you compare to what it was like in 2016 to what it's like now?

SANDERS: Well, you know, four years ago, Bernie was just getting introduced to the people and I kind of went and waved. This time, especially because of impeachment --

NOBLES: Right.

SANDERS: I've been doing a number of events by myself, and talking to people, and taking questions and learning from them. It's been -- it's been really exciting and it's been, I think, more exhilarating.

People are recognizing that Bernie's campaign is one of justice. He wants economic, racial, social and environmental justice. And it seems to be resonating not just here in Iowa, but across the country. And I think they understand that he wants to improve their quality of life.

So he came in as a known entity --

NOBLES: Uh-huh.

SANDERS: And I could become more of a known entity in Iowa than I was last time.

NOBLES: So, tell me what it's going to be like tonight. Where are you going to watch the returns? What will be -- the mood and the atmosphere would be like? Is Senator Sanders nervous on a night like tonight?

SANDERS: Well, everybody is, I'm sure. We're going to watch it right here and we're -- it depends totally on what the results are in terms of the mood.


NOBLES: Right.

SANDERS: So, so far, so good. I think we're hopeful.

NOBLES: Right. Well, tell me about that. Do you expect to win here tonight? It seems as though there's a lot of momentum and energy behind Senator Sanders' campaign. Will he come out with a victory tonight?

SANDERS: I can't predict. I think we saw 6,000 people in the last couple of days. So, the energy and the enthusiasm is there. Whether or not, it totally depends on how many people come out to caucus.

What's always been true in Bernie's elections is if the voter turnout is high, he does well.

NOBLES: Right.

SANDERS: If it's low, he doesn't.

So, we're hoping that everybody takes it very seriously and right to the final moment and goes to caucus for Bernie and votes for Bernie.

NOBLES: OK, all right. Jane Sanders, thank you so much for joining us.

SANDERS: Thanks, Ryan.

NOBLES: And good luck to you and Senator Sanders tonight. I appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you.

NOBLES: All right. Thanks.

Wolf, we'll send it back to you now.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, and thank Dr. Sanders as well.

Let's go to Queen Creek, Arizona, right now. The first results are now coming in.

Sara Sidner, what -- what are you learning?

SIDNER: We have the first results. There were a couple of really big cheers. I'm going to start off -- we'll do it in alphabetical order.

Let give me you the scene. They are now going to start the second count. So, we'll get you a look at those folks that are here in the theater who will be filling out those cards.

Klobuchar, by far, wins this, 33.5 percent, a big number there. They hollered. And then Buttigieg is next with 24.68 percent and then you have Biden with 18 percent, and then you have Warren.

Now, everyone cheered when they heard the number that Warren got because they are just under 15.82 percent.

Now, if you look at Sanders here, very small number, 4.43 percent. Those are your leader boards, if you will. Steyer got 1 percent, Bloomberg, 1 percent.

And there is still one person here who is uncommitted. So, of all the 162 people, one person still uncommitted. The big number here was Klobuchar.

Back to you, guys.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Sarah Sidner.

We're going to get the final results from Arizona, and one hour from the caucuses, 1,600-plus caucuses throughout the state of Iowa begin.

Much more of our special coverage right after this.



BLITZER: Tonight, Iowans are taking part in one of the most unpredictable presidential caucuses ever.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center.

We're about an hour away from the main event when voters across Iowa declare their choice to be the Democratic presidential nominee. They have a crowded field to choose from.