The primary season of the US election has kicked off. Democratic contenders vying to take on US President Donald Trump will be making their mark at Iowa caucuses.
The primary season of the US election has kicked off. Democratic contenders vying to take on US President Donald Trump will be making their mark at Iowa caucuses.

Five Democrats claim Iowa ‘win’

There are still no results from the first vote for who the Democrats will stand against Donald Trump, but that hasn't stopped five of them from claiming victory.

As the Iowa caucus results continue to be counted, the vote was described as an "unmitigated disaster" by Mr Trump.

The delay getting results has been blamed on a range of factors including the roll-out of an untested app and a new system of counting and analysing the votes.

The Iowa Democratic Party spent Tuesday night being slammed for a delay and Wednesday morning scrambling to work out what went wrong ahead of a call with the furious campaign teams for the 12 candidates.

Race favourites Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders said they were confident of winning, while Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren continued on a "victory" lap despite there being no official count.

In what looked like everyone claiming a participation prize, several candidates released their own incomplete data to back up their claims of victory.

US President Donald Trump seized on the delays to slam Democratic organisers. Picture: AP
US President Donald Trump seized on the delays to slam Democratic organisers. Picture: AP

"Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history," Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said.

"It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?"

It came as Mr Trump took 97 per cent of the Republican vote in his party's caucuses, a largely symbolic poll given he currently faces only two little fancied rivals for the nomination.

Mr Trump, who had not travelled to Iowa and instead dispatched family's members and senior administration figures as surrogates, said: "BIG win for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!"

In the absence of official figures, far left Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders released polling that put him in front, followed by Washington outsider Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren and moderate former vice president Joe Biden.

Mr Biden said: "It looks like it's going to be a long night but I feel good".

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at a caucus campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Picture: AP
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at a caucus campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Picture: AP

"There are indications it's going to be close. We're going to walk out of here with our share of delegates," he told supporters as the night wore on with no results.

"Four more years of Donald Trump will fundamentally alter the character of this nation and character is on the ballot."

Mr Sanders, the Vermont senator who narrowly lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton in 2016 said he had "a good feeling we're going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa".

"Today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," he said.

Republicans and Democrats choose their presidential candidates through a series of primary votes, starting with Monday's Iowa caucuses.

The poll, which is run through arcane rules in which Iowans gather and physically indicate their vote by where they sit or stand in a room, has picked seven of the past nine Democratic candidates.

Changes to rules to increase transparency were blamed for the delay in results.

It will be followed in coming weeks by primaries in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, ahead of 14 states including California on Super Tuesday in March.

Iowa Democrats spokesperson Mandy McClure said the delay was because the party "found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results."

"The integrity of the results is paramount. We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time," she said.

"What we know right now is that around 25 per cent of precincts have reported, and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016."

Earlier, Donald Trump Jr said his father didn't care who won as he sent a message for whoever gets the nomination.

"We're going to fight like nobody's ever fought before", said Donald Trump Jnr.

Mr Parscale said: "The President is a fighter. He would take all of them on."

 

 

WHO IS TAKING ON TRUMP?

Democratic contenders vying to take on US President Donald Trump faced their first political test as the primary season kicks off with Iowa caucuses.

Far left candidate Bernie Sanders and moderate former vice president Joe Biden are in a tight contest for early voting states.

But there is still potential for upsets in the form of progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren, Washington outsider Pete Buttigieg and centrist, Senator Amy Klobuchar.

US President Donald Trump won't be in Iowa, but his presence loomed large over the final weekend of campaigning, with a record spend on political ads to screen during last night's Super Bowl ahead of a week of Washington intrigue.

Mr Trump, 73, will deliver what the White House has described as a "unifying" State of the Union address on Tuesday, just a day before the Senate seems all but certain to acquit him at his impeachment trial.

 

Democratic candidates spent Sunday stumping for the crucial Iowa vote, the impactful first primary that will likely winnow the current 11-strong field.

It will be followed a week later by voting in New Hampshire and two other states ahead of Super Tuesday in March.

Mr Biden, 77, holds a national lead of about four points, according to Real Clear Politics, but he trails Mr Sanders, 78, in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The rise of Mr Sanders has concerned establishment Democrats who fear his radical agenda, including free college, scrapping private health insurance and loosening immigration restrictions would spook the moderate voters needed to beat Mr Trump.

Like the three other senator candidates, he was due back in Washington for today's impeachment trial and made the most of his last day campaigning, appearing at four packed events.

"If there is a low voter turnout, we are going to lose. If there is a high voter turnout, we are going win," he said.

Mr Biden said at a firefighting union event in Des Moines middle school that he was best placed to unite and lead America.

"The next president is going to inherit a country that is divided and a world that is in disarray," he said.

"We need a president who is ready to start the job on day one."

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders supporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Picture: Andrew Harnik
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders supporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Picture: Andrew Harnik

In the crowd, medical technologist Jocelyne Murphy said she was "leaning towards Joe" and had come to his final town hall to make a decision.

"I like Bernie's energy and that he's such a character, but I worry about us going from the far right to so far to the left," Ms Murphy said.

"It's a bit of shame we are looking at it being between two old white men, and I have to admit I am worried about Joe's age and his stamina."

 

Ms Warren, 70, who has slid in recent polling and threatens to split the progressive vote with Mr Sanders, was spruiking her platforms including medicare for all and a wealth tax.

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Picture: Gene J. Puskar
Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Picture: Gene J. Puskar

"This is no time for small ideas. This is no time to see these big problems and just nibble around the edges," she said.

"This is the time to come up with the big solutions and get out there and fight for them."

Mr Buttigieg, 38, the former midwest mayor and youngest candidate who has been polling around third and fourth place with Ms Warren, played up his credentials as a Washington outsider.

"It's about making sure that we have the right approach to beat Donald Trump. We don't have to choose between revolution and establishment," he said at Lincoln High School in Des Moines.

 

Law student Brecklyn Carey, 22, said she was supporting Mr Buttigieg because his message had "resonated like no other candidate".

"I have never been so engaged with a politician as I have with him, and have been following him since the beginning," said Ms Carey, of Des Moines.

This reporter is on twitter @sarahblakemedia


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