Low turnout a ma­jor worry for Democrats

Sunday Territorian - - WORLD -

IOWA Democrats are re­cov­er­ing from a num­ber of dis­ap­point­ments af­ter last Mon­day’s Iowa cau­cuses, though one has re­ceived less at­ten­tion than the oth­ers.

About 176,000 Iowans at­tended their precinct cau­cuses, a slight uptick from 2016 but fewer than ex­pected.

The num­ber is cer­tain to rat­tle Democrats who are bank­ing on high turnout in bat­tle­grounds across the coun­try to win in Novem­ber. And it raises doubts about whether Iowa is winnable by Democrats, af­ter a re­cent shift to­ward Repub­li­cans. The num­ber was per­haps most dis­ap­point­ing to Ver­mont Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders, whose strat­egy in the pri­mary and the gen­eral elec­tion hinges on bring­ing out young and in­fre­quent vot­ers. Asked about the turnout at a de­bate Fri­day night, San­ders ac­knowl­edged it was off the mark. “That’s a dis­ap­point­ment and I think all of us prob­a­bly could have done a bet­ter job of bring­ing out our sup­port­ers,” he said.

The pa­rade of can­di­dates, a Demo­cratic base seething to un­seat Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and high par­tic­i­pa­tion in 2018 midterms had party in­sid­ers braced for a turnout to match or top the con­test’s high-water mark.

But Mon­day came nowhere near the 2008 cau­cuses, when roughly 238,000 Iowans par­tic­i­pated in the kick­off clash among Hil­lary Clinton, Barack Obama, one­time Iowa favourite John Ed­wards and a hand­ful of oth­ers. The 2020 cau­cuses did draw 5000 more than 2016, when Ms Clinton nar­rowly beat Mr San­ders, but went on to lose to Mr Trump.

“It was lower than I ex­pected,” said for­mer Iowa Demo­cratic Party ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Norm Sterzen­bach, who has been ad­vis­ing Min­nesota Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar’s cam­paign. “It was def­i­nitely lower than what the con­ven­tional wis­dom was.”

Democrats in Iowa are fight­ing to over­come a decade­long slide that has shrunk their ranks in ru­ral ar­eas and once re­li­ably Demo­cratic-vot­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing towns along the Mis­sis­sippi River.

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