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Iowans Chose Their Delegates But No Results Yet; Candidates Keep Their Fingers Crossed; First Results From Iowa Caucuses Still Delayed; Questions Mount Over Delay Of Iowa Caucuses Results. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 3, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's like some parlor game I don't understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JONES: And so, on the one hand it's so fun to see all the sort of stuff. On the other hand, I wonder, you know, how it's impacting people who are trying to cheer for me.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this is like
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, it gets weirder and weirder if you are in the room. All of us have been in these caucuses. I will shovel your sidewalk for the next six months if you come to that point.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's the point.
MCAULIFFE: I will give you choc chip cookies for a year. I'm telling you; this is what's going on right now. The haggling back and forth --
BORGER: Well, you're trying to convince your neighbors.
MCAULIFFE: The personal interaction.
BORGER: You're talking to your neighbors.
MCAULIFFE: Of course.
BORGER: And you're saying OK, not that I'll shovel your sidewalk. But you know me well. You know what I think. Do you respect me, do you like me? Do you -- can you come over because your person wasn't viable? And by the way can we think of a new word other than viable and unviable? But -- HENDERSON: I mean, what we're seeing is a real tiny, tiny, tiny slice of this big picture of the state. Right? We've got about like five or six precincts we keep going to and there's 1,600 --
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: A tiny slice of a tiny state.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes, of a tiny state. So --
BORGER: But this is what voters do.
SMERCONISH: I use the word passion earlier in the evening. Because this is not depth. This is passion that gets rewarded. Stop and think about this, you know, I've never cast a ballot without that curtain being closed.
SMERCONISH: You -- there's a threshold issue.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
SMERCONISH: You need to be willing to go out and --
SMERCONISH: -- let people see you sitting under somebody's banner.
SMERCONISH: So, there's only a certain type of person willing to go out --
BORGER: And convince others.
SMERCONISH: -- and have people see how they're voting.
BORGER: But they're used to in Iowa.
BORGER: It's Iowa.
HENDERSON: They tried to open the process and make it a little bit more Democratic and have this like --
(CROSSTALK) AXELROD: You know, on this issue of passion, the argument -- Biden's
argument is vote Biden beat Trump. And he was hoping that would get people passionate.
AXELROD: It's a kind of a tactical argument.
COOPER: I want to -- I want to go to Wolf who's getting some results. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Thanks very much, Anderson.
It's been now more than two hours since the Iowa caucuses started. We're awaiting still. We expect to get them very soon. But we're awaiting a official result. But I want to check in with Jeff Zeleny, he's in Des Moines. You got the final results there at caucuses at Drake University.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we do. We're precinct 35 here in Des Moines at Drake Fieldhouse. So, you can see 38, excuse me. There's a little bit of a fatigue setting in for the Pete Buttigieg supporters. But they do have something to cheer about. They were viable.
But Wolf, let's go through the numbers. Let's take a little step away over here. Elizabeth Warren she's leading the way here in this precinct 31.7 percent. You can see the numbers on the left of your screen.
Pete Buttigieg, 26.9. Bernie Sanders 25.2. And uncommitted 16.2 percent. Let me explain that. The uncommitted is a big group of people who decided to support Cory Booker. It was some Cory Booker supporters here on Drake University's campus who convinced the Amy Klobuchar the Joe Biden and some others to come over to their side.
So essentially, they will be listed as other or uncommitted. But they are calling themselves the Cory Booker caucus. Now the question here is and I asked several of them what does that say about party unity? Why did you decline to go to Elizabeth Warren or go to Pete Buttigieg?
Wolf, let me pause for one second here. They are announcing how many delegates are going to be announced right here. Bernie Sanders getting one delegate to the county convention here. Elizabeth Warren getting two. And Pete Buttigieg you can see right here behind me getting two delegates to the county convention.
Wolf, this is significant. Four years ago, Bernie Sanders won this precinct here on Drake University's campus at Des Moines precinct 38. He did not win it tonight. Certainly, he had a strong showing but he did not win. Elizabeth Warren's campaign won this precinct.
Let's go over to their group for one second and see what they're thinking. It took a little bit longer because they were recounting. And unusual circumstances of the Cory Booker.
So, Elizabeth Warren fans you won tonight, are you happy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, excited. Very happy.
ZELENY: It took a little while.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did. This whole Cory Booker thing was a little weird.
ZELENY: Does that say anything about party unity do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't know. I think it's just uniqueness.
ZELENY: Uniqueness on a college campus?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.
ZELENY: So definitely this night now here will be over in terms of the counting. But boy, I can tell you so many people have asked me what is going on statewide. So, we do look forward to seeing the rest of those numbers. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: We anticipate getting them very soon. Let's go over to David Chalian who is doing some of his numbers. We're getting some results like taken right now. The average (Ph) poll numbers that you had earlier showed that the early leaders in alphabetical order were Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, and Warren. But you're real numbers now. Not entrance poll.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well it's just numbers that all of our reporters at the various caucus sites that they have been at have been reporting in. Right? It's the numbers that we've been showing on the screen. You just saw the caucus site that Jeff Zeleny was at.
And you know, if you take a look, you see there, that 31.7 percent, 26.9 percent. That is just at the Des Moines caucus site there, 25.2 percent. But you will remember, Wolf, that what you have here, what's happening here is that they're trying to get to that final calculation with those percentages to determine the state delegates.
That is the metric that is going to determine the winner tonight. So, we're just looking at and as you have been saying all night, you can't take one precinct and think we understand what's happening statewide. But we are able to look at these individual precincts where we're at and see what numbers are getting reported back to the state party.
And what we're waiting on is for them the state party the Iowa Democratic Party to report those numbers back out. The first round of voting of how people separated themselves when they showed up, then the second round of voting when some candidates were not viable. How that got separated out in the caucus site.
And then the determination of those state delegates equivalents. And they each -- that happens at each of the 1,700 sites. And when they have that final information, both the popular vote and the state delegates. They send that into the state party and then the state party will start report that out publicly and to news organizations then we'll have it.
BLITZER: Because what's a little confusing to me is that if our reporters are getting these actual numbers --
BLITZER: -- when they conclude some of these caucuses, what's taking the state -- the state Democrats so long to release the numbers?
CHALIAN: If only we had 1,700 reporters and had one in every single precinct so that we could send those numbers back like you have on the screen. But what a state official told me is that what they're trying to do is some quality control right now.
They're trying to make certain that what they report out as official results is accurate. Reflects exactly the numbers that are sent in from each of these precincts and, you know, I certainly I'm not going to begrudge them for trying to make sure that they report out accurate information.
BLITZER: Certainly not. All right. Let -- you know, we're getting some numbers from our reporters including Miguel Marquez who is joining us from Cedar Rapids right now. You've got some final results over there, right?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have final results. And I can tell you some of the confusion with getting those numbers out is part of this new process. There are 437 caucus goers that walked into this basement tonight. And there are 435 votes because two of them got spoiled.
Walking away with this in this particular precinct, precinct 25 is Pete Buttigieg with 115 votes of those 437. That's 26.5 percent of the vote. Elizabeth Warren, the Senator Elizabeth Warren she had 86 voters. That's 19.82 percent.
Up next was Amy Klobuchar had 80 of those voters, 19.43 percent, and Joe Biden with 73 vote -- caucus goers with 16.82 percent. And Bernie Sanders with 80 individuals who caucus for him at 18.43 percent.
So, two of the votes were spoiled here. They are now going around to elect those individuals that will be the delegates to the county convention here and they will break down.
There are nine delegates available for this particular precinct. And they will elect those delegates now. And we will soon find out exactly how many delegates will be reported on to the county for this precinct. Back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Miguel, thanks very much. Five viable candidates over there out of the 11 candidates who have been running. And right now, so far, John, we got nothing coming in from the state Democrats. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We got nothing. And this
is confusing to people watching at home because they see Michael Bloomberg, they say he's not competing in Iowa. They see Tulsi Gabbard. She hasn't really contested Iowa. She's been focusing more in New Hampshire.
This is alphabetical order of the candidates. That's how they're programmed. The computer stacks them until we get results. This is what is astounding. Ninety-nine counties that are just all gray right now as we wait.
And this is going to be interesting. State party officials say they are doing quality control. Our reporters at some of these sites say they had to double check and triple check some of the counts. The question about a ballot there. A question about a ballot there.
That's what happens in a caucus process. When you are using paper ballots, when you are spread all over the state, when you're not coming in using some sort of a computer that has a backup. And this has been one of the controversies for years. But especially this cycle.
Remember, Iowa was going to have virtual caucuses at the beginning on and they pulled back on that plan. There's been a lot of controversy in the Democratic Party nationally and even within Iowa about whether this is a good idea. And I think the delays tonight are only going to fuel some of the questions about is this the right way to do it in the very first process of 2020.
That being said, the candidates I've been in the back texting and e- mailing with people at some of this campaign. They're all anxious. They're all incredibly anxious because they know how important this is to them.
And so, they've been working for months, working for more than a year. Spending millions of dollars in many cases. And they're all sitting around right now. If you're Pete Buttigieg, this is critical to you. If you're Senator Klobuchar, it is absolutely critical to you.
Can Bernie Sanders he won't match his 49 percent of delegates from four years ago but we -- I was out there over the weekend. Everyone has thought the momentum was with him. Elizabeth Warren needs to stay close to him as you have the battle of the progressives. And then of course there's the former vice president of the United States on the ballot here.
And so, the stakes are enormous. So, we are frustrated waiting for the results to come in. The state party says it's just doing due diligence to make sure it gets it right. You think we're nervous? You should talk to the candidates.
BLITZER: And just to give us some perspective. At 10 p.m. Eastern, two hours after the caucuses started going, we had 70 percent of the precincts already reporting. Right now, we have zero percent of the precincts reporting.
KING: Right. And so, that, look, there are more candidates this time. So, give some grace. But to your point, this came in pretty quick. This came in pretty quick. And it was very close. So, it's not like it was a blow out. It's not like it was easy to count.
There's stress in caucus sites when you're reporting results that are so close. If you just go through some of the counties, this one is not so close. But if you keep moving around, this one as we went through the states, 60 percent there. It's not as close there.
If you come in to some of these -- some of these are easy to count, Wolf, but some of them are not. If you come to this part of the state you see places like this, 50 to 41. If you're in these precincts within this country that's a tough test. But they want to go back to that, you know, it was easy to do. Now we're looking at this and we're just waiting finally for some calls to come in.
BLITZER: I assume we're going to get those numbers fairly soon and then once they come in, they'll come in quickly. Then we'll probably start hearing from candidates themselves delivering some speeches.
Much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back. It's still more than two hours since the Iowa caucuses started. We still don't have any official results from the Democrats. David Chalian, you're beginning to get some answers, what's taking so long?
CHALIAN: Well let's not call it answers. We're just getting a characterization that they are -- they are doing quality control for the return that they are getting from the precincts.
Again, more than 1,700 precincts across the state reporting into the state party. And the state party is doing some quality control checks to make sure they are confident that the numbers they're getting and reporting out publicly are accurate.
People are still caucusing and we are working on reporting results soon is what one party official has told CNN. You know, it is hard when you look at the clock and you see it's 10.16, Wolf, to not begin to wonder if something maybe askew.
I mean, what -- how long -- we're not getting a sense of how long does the quality control take. What exactly is the quality control process that the party is undertaking right now. Because this is far later than when we have seen reports in Iowa caucuses past of the vote coming in.
And so, you know, now the party they're sticking to this notion of we're doing quality control checks. I'm not sure how much longer they can just sort of say that and not have questions surrounding whether or not is there some -- is there some reporting problem, is there something askew or is everything fine and they're being super- cautious.
But then give us a little bit more information perhaps about what the processes underway for this quality control. I think, you know, you're going to start to see more and more need for the state party so sort of say something beyond we're just doing quality control.
BLITZER: Yes. Just to give some perspective for four years ago at this point. Two hours plus in about 70 percent of the precincts had been reporting this time.
All right. Let's go back to Jeff Zeleny. What are you hearing about all of this, Jeff?
ZELENY: Wolf, there's no question that party officials and campaign officials are wondering where these results are. Of course, we have seen individual precincts on our air and hearing reports from across the state. But there is a big question here in Des Moines tonight where those results are.
And we're getting this from state party official who tells CNN this. We are doing quality control checks, as David was saying earlier. Making sure the numbers are accurate. People are still caucusing; we're working to report results soon.
Now that is not an explanation, it is a bit of a pause button, if you will. So, Wolf, I'm not surprised at all that the counting is longer than four years ago.
If you'll remember on the Democratic side it was Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. There was no realignment. It was essentially a straight count which is what the Republicans do. But this year of course much more complicated.
So many candidates. So, there was a realignment process. But it begs the question what is going on with these numbers. Of course, we want accurate numbers, of course this is what the state party says they are trying to do here.
But, Wolf, we are affording more information from state party officials. We do know earlier in the day some officials, Linda Nelson, the chairwoman of the Pottawattamie County Democratic Party in council bluffs said the app wasn't working. So, Wolf, we'll working on this and we'll get you more. But right now, no results as you know.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Soon as you get some more information, we'll get back to you. Let's go over to Ryan Nobles. He's over at Bernie Sanders headquarters. How are folks over there reacting? They want -- they want to get the results of this fastest anyway.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right about that, Wolf. And this crowd started a shuttling into this venue here by the airport in Des Moines about two hours ago and they really have had nothing to react to. The results now are just not coming in. And there's no real sense of
frustration right now. But there's a general sense of anxiety because they came here expecting to celebrate a victory for Bernie Sanders and his campaign.
And I do have to say just in talking with Sanders campaign officials, they also don't have much information to provide. I asked a campaign official just a few minutes ago about where they feel they're standing right now and they said, you need to ask the Iowa Democratic Party. Because they know just as much as we know. In terms of the results coming in.
Now we should point out, Wolf, that these campaigns especially the larger campaigns, those in the top four especially do have precinct chairs. People in each one of these venues who their responsibility is to track this progress and then report back to their campaign headquarters.
But still, there seems to be lack of information or at least an unwillingness to share that information with us.
As you can see since we've been up on the screen here in this room, we did get a reaction from the Sanders supporters here. They still feel pretty confident. They still believe that Bernie Sanders is in a strong position to win. But right now, they're like all of us just waiting to see when these results will come in. Wolf?
BLITZER: Waiting and waiting and waiting. Ryan Nobles over at the Sanders headquarters. Arlette Saenz is over at the Biden headquarters also in Des Moines for us. What are you hearing, and what are you seeing over there?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Wolf, well, people here are very eager to start hearing results. The campaign has not heard anything specifically about why the results have yet to start to come in. But we've seen people starting to file into this caucus night headquarters party.
They're still waiting to see exactly how their candidate is going to perform this evening. We've heard some anecdotal stories as we've seen play out at each of these caucus sites. But the Biden campaign has still been arguing that Iowa is not necessarily a win, a must win for him in this primary and caucus process. They keep pointing to the states beyond like South Carolina and super Tuesday states where they see a strong diverse demographic that is supporting the former vice president.
Now he has poured a lot of resources into this state. And so, they are hoping that they can finish tonight with a strong showing. But right now, just as everyone across the state is, they are waiting to hear what those first results might be for the evening. Wolf?
BLITZER: And Arlette, at some point, we do expect to hear from the former vice president there. Right? SAENZ: We sure do. And the former vice president has been back at his
hotel watching these results come in. I spoke with his wife Jill Biden earlier today who told me that they are going to be with their grandchildren. He's also with some top advisers. And he is closely watching how exactly this vote is going to come in.
You know, Joe Biden spent a lot of time in rural areas. He focused a few of his bus tours in those rural smaller areas where they think he could potentially have a stronger showing. So that is an area that they are going to be keeping an eye on tonight as these results begin to come in.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Arlette, thanks very much. I want to go over to M.J. Lee. She's over at Warren headquarters. You know, four years ago at this point almost 85 percent of the precincts had reported. Right now, as you know, M.J., zero percent of the precincts have officially reported. How are folks over there at the Warren headquarters reacting?
M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, you know, here at Elizabeth Warren's election night headquarters in Des Moines, people are starting to fill in to the ballroom. So, there is a level of excitement here.
But you're absolutely right, the TVs are turned onto CNN, and everyone is waiting for these results to start trickling in. And we know that Senator Warren was at her hotel earlier to watch these results coming in and she also visited a caucus site to try to get people excited in these final mimics -- minutes.
And I will tell you talking to some of these people who are in the room right now, there are mixed emotions. One woman that I talked to, for example, who just got here from a caucus site. She said that she was feeling really sad because where she was at her site, Elizabeth Warren was not viable the first round. And so, she ended up having to choose a second choice because Warren was not viable. And that second person was Bernie Sanders.
And she said that she felt uncomfortable choosing Bernie Sanders. But simply did not feel like there was another candidate that she could choose.
Another woman I talked to was in a much better mood. She said that at the caucus site where she was at, Elizabeth Warren was definitely viable. Had a lot of supporters in her corner. And then during the second round she actually ended up getting more people in her corner and a lot of them were Andrew Yang supporters.
So, a lot of excitement and nervous waiting game here at Elizabeth Warren's election night party, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting. All right, M.J., thank you very much. Abby Phillip is over at Pete Buttigieg's headquarters, also in Des Moines. I assume the crowd over there is anxious for some numbers?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf. The crowd is trickling into this room behind me. And we just heard a little bit of a chant breaking out as they're waiting for all of these results to come in.
Now, Wolf, over the last couple of minutes talking to campaign aides back in South Bend and here in Des Moines, they are looking and relying on their own organizers who are on the ground in precincts all across the state.
And what they are hearing and what they've told CNN is that they feel pretty good about what they're seeing out there. They're seeing some strong results for Buttigieg in rural counties and in suburban counties where they are beating their own expectations.
So, in lieu of these official results that we still all don't have yet, the campaign is starting to rely on what they have on the ground and they're seeing some viability in some of these precincts that he spent a lot of time pounding the pavement over the last week and a half and more, really trying to get those voters out in the tiniest of towns.
The smallest of precincts, and particularly these crucial 31 pivot counties that went from Obama to Trump. Wolf?
BLITZER: Abby Phillip over at the Buttigieg headquarters in Des Moines.
All right. We're waiting for some numbers to come in. The Democratic Party in Iowa says they're doing, quote, "quality control." We'll see what happens. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: All right. It looks like something is going on. It's now approaching 10.30 p.m. here on the East Coast. Two and a half hours after the Iowa caucuses nearly 1,700 caucus sites. Two and a half hours after they started, they still have not reported anything yet. Zero percent of precincts reporting.
Four years ago, at this time about 80 percent of the precincts had already reported. Maybe 85 percent. And as a result, something must be going on. Mark Preston and David Chalian are here. What are you hearing? I know you're talking to folks over there.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. What we're hearing and I know David has been talking to them as well, is that they're saying that they are trying to do this the right way. Right? They are trying to go through their control checks. They are releasing not one data set. They're releasing three sets of numbers right now. So that could be the delay right now.
BLITZER: So, they're saying it's a more complicated this time than it was four years ago?
PRESTON: Well, it's an entirely different process. So, it's certainly is more complicated. Now having said this, I mean, I have confidence in them, but I would say this. It is bringing in some concern and certainly wondering about what is exactly happening now behind the scenes.
CHALIAN: And let's be clear.
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.
CHALIAN: This was not the plan. Like, something is clearly off from the plan that the Iowa Democratic Party had at the start of the night. They didn't expect to have no vote reporting at 10:30 Eastern at night. That is dramatically later than we've seen in the past. So, Mark is right. It's a brand new process in the sense of what they're reporting out. Not just the state delegates but also the popular vote for the first round and final round.
So, I understand that they are doing something brand new. And you can do a test drive as the party did many times. And they did (inaudible). I talked to a party official just a few days ago when I was in Iowa, telling me about the test drives that they did and the practice on this. but when it comes down to the actual caucuses and you have hundreds of thousands of people showing up, you are not in test drive mode and there is no way that this is according to plan right now.
Now that doesn't mean when they start to report vote, it could be accurate, it could be trusted. We don't know anything about that yet. All we know is they're doing quality control. But this was not the plan to not have votes this late at night.
BLITZER: They need this results quickly. You know, a couple hours ago or so, maybe we got a report from Jeff Zeleny among others saying Iowa is Democratic Party organization is troubleshooting what they describe as multiple reports of technical trouble with a mobile app designed to transmit vote totals from precinct to state headquarters and quote, a party spokesperson Mandy McClure, Iowa Democratic Party communication director saying from the beginning they have been prepared to deal with issues of human error or cell service as they arrive -- arise the app is not the only option to forward precinct vote totals.
PRESTON: It's not the only option. There's still the old trusted way of picking up the telephone and calling in the numbers and they have a hot line setup. They did say that the problems with the app though earlier in the night were not consequential enough that was going to cause problems for the vote count. You know, when we talk about the problems in the interim, of course, is this election. Who's going to be the winner? Who comes out and will they feel that it is valid. OK?
But really the long term problem with the question about this is can the Iowa caucuses survive? Right? There's always been concern that the Iowa caucuses would not be able to survive another four years, because of the fact of the quirky system and that they don't have the same kind of structure when it comes to geographic, but specifically race in that state. BLITZER: I want to go to Abby Phillip, she's over at the Buttigieg
headquarters. You know, Abby, Iowa is always been about momentum. The candidates come in and some of them do well. They get some momentum and move onto New Hampshire and Nevada, South Carolina, super-Tuesday and all this. They want to speak. All these candidates, they want to deliver some speeches to their supporters. Get themselves on television. It's now past 10:30 p.m. here on the East Coast and we have 0 percent of the precincts reporting.
PHILLIP: Absolutely, Wolf. This is really delayed for a lot of the campaigns, their plans to say something at least before most of the people on the East Coast and in the middle of the country go to bed tonight. But the delay of the results is causing some concern. My colleague, Dan America is reporting among several of these Democratic campaigns here in Iowa including the Pete Buttigieg campaign, you know, the candidates are waiting for these results to come. They are relying on their own supporters on the ground.
But the delay now is going well into the night when they had a plans and one aide said, it just eats up time. Valuable time for these candidates. Many of whom are planning on getting on planes in the middle of the night going to New Hampshire tomorrow morning. And starting that whole process. So, it's not clear how this is all going to go. But there are clearly some concerns about this delay and what is causing it. I talked to several other aides who are being pretty tight lipped about how their reacting to the lack of official results so far, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's awkward at a minimum right now on what's going on, Abby, thank you very much. I want to go to Kyung Lah, she's over at the Klobuchar headquarters also in Des Moines for us. What are you hearing, Kyung Lah over there?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we spoke to a Democratic aide who is here at Klobuchar headquarters. And his Democratic aide has been pinging the Iowa Democratic Party asking what is up. They think that something is up. And I'm going to read you this quote, it sure seems like something is up. But we don't know what it is. And that's the concern. They don't know what it is.
The anxiety of not having anything to say. This campaign wants to tell a good story. They are relying on Twitter. They're relying on their precinct captains and their early indication is that Senator Klobuchar is over performing in places that were unexpected. She's doing well in precincts that are in the suburbs and precincts that are more liberal. And they want to tell that story. But they also need the results to tell that story.
So, until that comes forward, at this point here in Klobuchar headquarters, they are just treading water. Waiting for the results, hoping that the Iowa Democratic Party has some sort of explanation on what's happening here. A lot of confusion. Concern about what exactly is going on here, Wolf. BLITZER: Yes. We'd like to know ourselves. All right. Standby.
Everybody standby, much more of our special coverage of the Iowa caucuses right after this.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Iowa caucus. You see a lot of action going on. It's 10:39 here on the East Coast. At this point in 2016, as Wolf alluded to earlier, we had 83.43 percent of the votes in. Right now to paraphrase Rudy Giuliani we have zero.
Anyway. David Axelrod, what is going on?
AXELROD: Well, first of all let me say I was thinking back to 2008 when Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus. I'm pretty sure that we were well into our cup by this time of night. And he had spoken.
We were ready to take off for New Hampshire. You know getting ready to take off for New Hampshire. So, this is pretty -- but there is this new system. And you know, this is the price of transparency and they're very eager not to get caught in conflicting data.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
AXELROD: And I think that's what the quality control is. But it's -- you know, there are all bunch of campaigns on the edge of their seats.
COOPER: So the campaigns don't even know at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: they can't get answers.
AXELROD: They're in the same position. Now, they're getting reports from their own people. And trying to put it all together that way. So, they have some inkling as to what is going on out there. But certainly not the whole picture.
COOPER: They don't have people -- I mean, the campaign doesn't have -- do they have -- I guess they do have some people at every caucus.
AXELROD: Some of the campaigns do and some of the campaign don't have every precinct covered. Those that are well organized are probably getting numbers called in to them and they are tabulating them themselves.
HENDERSON: Iowa always gets this scrutiny about why it's first because of the demographic or because of the undemocratic process. And I think given what is happening tonight that scrutiny is going to really intensify.
One job, right. To get results, be first in the nation. Show that they can handle this process. And so far, it's clear that they haven't been able --
BORGER: So, I'm old enough to remember 2012. When it took two weeks for Rick Santorum to figure out that he had actually won the Iowa caucuses by 1 percent. But we were saying the same thing at that time. I was just e-mailing with a Democratic pollster who said to me the Iowa Democratic Party needs to make sure that the three sets of numbers are consistent with each other. Which would be the hard vote, you know, the popular vote, then the delegates, the delegate equivalents and what's the third?
COOPER: First round.
BORGER: First round. So, in other words he said not so easy. It's one of the costs of transparency. And so this new process ironically is supposed to be more transparent except we don't have any numbers.
AXELROD: It's going to dilute the value. I said earlier that the news cycle.
BORGER: Yes, yes.
SMERCONISH: Super bowl yesterday. State of the union tomorrow. Impeachment the following day. I know we don't think in terms of newspaper. But there are still newspapers. Newspapers are going to go to bed soon and therefore whomever wins will be denied a headline in regionals. Smaller newspapers tomorrow, that so and so won the Iowa caucus. So the bump is going to be limited.
JONES: And that's assuming that we know later tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: True.
JONES: I mean, look, this is starting to feel like, you know, possibly like a real debacle where if there's some technical problems that they're not disclosing, we could be, you know, very late on this. I mean, I just think that the idea of the caucus has failed to meet the viability threshold.
OK, the idea of the caucus itself has failed to meet by all these threshold, because we have all been saying the whole time, why Iowa in the first place? It's 90 percent white. You know, when you have a Party as diverse as this, in could be in a state that is not diverse as terrible -- people be able to vote and go home. I don't like caucuses in the first place, but then if you can't deliver on your one job. Nia, you -- Nia Malika said exactly right. You only have one job, Iowa. You've got one job.
COOPER: Governor, you talked about this before. You know, I've talked about this, how would you like to see -- what state would you like to have come first? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virginia.
MCAULIFFE: First of all -- Virginia of course, OK. But I think we should start regionally. I mean you should do three or four, five states. You shouldn't have one. It shouldn't be Iowa. It shouldn't be New Hampshire. You look at this entrance data, 90 percent of the caucus goers today were white. Well, if you take the whole landscape of the election it's 60 percent. So its way skewed out of line. You know, I would get rid of all the caucuses first of all.
COOPER: Well, they mostly are governor.
MCAULIFFE: When there's five left. Their un-democratic processes. People don't have time to go spend the time like you heard here today. Go vote. Pull the curtain. Close it, vote and then leave. That is the Democratic way. And think about (inaudible), there's 2 million voters in Iowa. 745,000 registered voter are unaffiliated with a party, 613,000 are Democrats. The rest Republican, 645,000.
So, it's a small turn out. You know, we're talking 10, 15 percent of the eligible voters, 10 to 15 percent are going to have such a gigantic sway on who the nominee of the Democratic Party. You know, when I was chairman, I brought up New Mexico. I brought up Arizona, I brought up South Carolina, I brought up Michigan to show our party's diversity. We got to get back to that.
BORGER: We have o=come so much farther in his conversation, this cycle and I have ever had heard before. We have presidential candidates bring it up in Iowa, the need to not start with Iowa. I think it's wildly recognized there's an undemocratic discriminatory process that most of want to fix. This is certainly not going to help their case for why this is --
AXELROD: Listen I think there's a good -- you guys make good points. There's also case for rotating states. By name of first four state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Absolutely.
COOPER: I'm sorry we are getting some developments, back to Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, very much, Anderson. Mark Preston has been getting some information. We've all been trying to figure out, what's going on? What are you hearing?
PRESTON: Well, Wolf, we have just got this new statement regarding the delay in the results. This is what they have to say, the integrity of the results is paramount we have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks in the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time. What we know right now, is at around 25 percent of precincts have reported and early data indicates turn out is on pace for 2016. Now this is from the spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party. CHALIAN: We should take a look at what that means.
HANDLER: What that statement says is absolutely nothing new about why we don't have any votes yet. So, they already told us that they had quality control checks. Right. We knew they were doing that. Clearly they felt pressure to put out a formal statement. That's what new here. But now 25 percent of precincts have reported. OK, well, what is the number? Why have they not -- if they're reporting into the IDP.
BLITZER: IDP, Iowa Democratic Party.
CHALIAN: Why are they still doing quality control? They can report out that 25 percent of the precinct --
Right, why can't they report the results of that? I think that's the question. If they know the 25 -- what is wrong with quality check -- so, basically they're buying time here? That's what the statement is. Is trying to buy more time, put out something that says, hey, we're doing quality control checks. We got that. They are doing quality control checks and as you said before, Mark, wisely, as now the statement is saying as well, they're reporting out this three data streams for the first time ever. But what the statement doesn't do in any way is explain what the issue is.
PRESTON: Well, what's interesting too is that we got some reporting too that shows that the app we talked about this just a little time ago, that this new app where these folks who are running the precincts can report results back in. Well, that app was breaking down. They were hearing from some of the precinct now that they are actually calling in because the app never works, so, perhaps that could be the problem as well.
BLITZER: Because earlier they said the Mandy McClure, the Communication Director for the Iowa Democratic Party, IDP as it's called -- Mandy McClure said, the IDP is working with any precinct chairs who want to use the optional tabulation application to make sure they are comfortable with it. We have always been aware that many precinct chairs prefer to call in results via secure hotline and have systems in place so they can do so. They want to go back to the old school way of doing it just calling in the numbers.
PRESTON: Right. Which is -- it doesn't really explain the delay. But it isn't a surprise. Because look, a lot of these people are volunteer. They are all volunteers that are running these caucuses. And you have to assume some of them tend to be a little bit older, they may not even be a technologically savvy enough that they want to use the app and they feel more comfortable with the phone. But again, why haven't we seen the number yet? And we still haven't found out why.
BLITZER: Because -- they got to -- you know, obviously they want to make sure these are precise numbers. The quality control is very important. But I think they have to give us a little bit more explanation down the road. All these candidates. Anderson, all these candidates, they want to go on television, they want to deliver speeches. They don't want to do it in the middle of the night. They want to do it now and they're getting zero results so far.
COOPER: Yes, middle of the night. It could be in the morning. Back now with the panel. Van, you were just --
JONES: I just -- I'm just looking on Twitter. You have a caucus secretary from a precinct who has just been-- she says she's been on hold for an hour. He's just going to tweet out. He just starting to tweet out.
He's been on hold for an hour with Democratic Party. He can't get a response. So, they are just starting to tweet out their results. This is starting to look like a (inaudible).
COOPER: Wait, who is this tweeting?
JONES: This is Sean Sebastian on Twitter. He's just tweeting out his results on the caucus.
COOPER: What's his job?
JONES: I am the caucus secretary for story county precinct 11. I've been on hold for over an hour to report the results. We have six delegates and he just report out his first alignment on the delegates. I don't know if it's true. I'm just saying that you are starting to see a level of desperation set in. it is starting to look like a debacle.
BORGER: Well, the word from the Party which I got from somebody for the Party and they did just put out the update, they only have 25 percent coming in, right, as they were saying. Why?
COOPER: Right, Again. Let's say again, it was 83.4 percent back in 2016. Also if you have 25 percent why not release 25 percent.
BORGER: That's right.
SMERCONISH: There are no machines. There are no ballots to count. This should actually be an easier process than a conventional election. And everybody who was in those individual caucuses knows what the result was. This is entirely doable. It's frankly the third category I expect that's probably causing the complication. When they are trying to do the translation. Because they know how many initially came through the door and stood in the respective corners. They know how many then moved in to someone else's category. Common sense dictates it's the third calculation.
HENDERSON: But didn't they practice?
Running up to this evening.
AXELROD: They have always had to translate it into delegate equivalent, So, I don't know.
BORGER: It's not easy.
HENDERSON: It's not easy, but you should know how to do it.
JONES: Here's why -- I feel sorry for the young people especially who worked their butts off and did their jobs and knocked on those doors and it's cold out there, it's tough out there. You have kids to quit school, who quit jobs, who believe in this country and who believe in this process and put it all in the line and those young people, as well as the rest of us, they deserve to see a process that works.
And listen, you know, democracy can be tough, it can be messy. We'll get to the bottom of this. But ordinarily by now, for people who are not used to this, you would be now hearing from the candidates, the ones who lost and the ones who won. And you are beginning to shave away going forward and instead we're sitting here worrying about an app. You know, I don't know.
MCAULIFFE: Practically speaking is, these candidates, especially the winners. You've got a three-hour flight now, you got to get to New Hampshire tonight. So, you've got to give your speeches, you got to thank your volunteers. You still got to get on a flight tonight which everybody has private planes ready to go. This will delay them tremendously.
BORGER: There's a statement that Adam Levy of our polling bureau is reporting, they're saying what we know is that 25 of the precincts have reported, early data indicates, turn out is on phase -- the integrity of the results is paramount.
JONES: Well, that's true.
BORGER: We have experienced a delay due to quality checks. And we are reporting out three data sets. Which we are talking about for the first time and I think, again to your question, didn't they practice?
HENDERSON: I mean, none of this is confidence inspiring.
COOPER: If you're a campaign, though, do you decide to just go ahead to New Hampshire anyway?
AXELROD: They're going to have to report these results tonight. I can't imagine that we're going to go to bed --
COOPER: Couldn't you give your speech from New Hampshire?
MCAULIFFE: If I were campaigning, I'd tell my candidate to go out right now, we don't know the results and give a speech right now. I would tell my candidate to get out there right now on TV, and start talking.
BORGER: Now they will.
MCAULIFFE: You've got nothing to lose.
JESS MCINTOSH, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS OUTREACH: I don't think that it would seem to be -- I mean, right now we're a couple hours late on what we were expecting. I don't think that this would seem to be quite the crisis that it does if the Iowa process in general hadn't come under the kind of scrutiny that it has in the last few months. I think this is just sort of a cherry on top of the sundae that we knew was already pretty bad.
JONES: The good thing is that the people in Iowa did try to do some things that were tough and that were more inclusive, they allowed people to vote earlier. They have people around the world. So they did do stuff that was hard, the earlier stuff. So, you see them responding to these things and trying to do, you know, more better.
COOPER: You're also seeing the process in a way that I've never seen it before.
MCINTOSH: The process has always been weird and messy. I mean, I have voted and I have caucused, depending on the state that I've lived in. And there's something very strange about standing up in front of your neighbors and co-workers and you know, teachers and friends and people you don't know like, saying I'm with this person, that's odd.
COOPER: Let's check back in with Jake and Dana, who are in the Des Moines. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, we're in beautiful downtown Des Moines, and we are in the media center here and as you can see it says behind me. Results coming soon. I don't know if actually you can see that, but in any case we are just sitting and waiting. We should note, Dana, that there is a sense of Deja vu here.
I remember the 2012 Republican caucuses, the night of the caucus, it was so close, they said Mitt Romney had beat Rick Santorum by eight votes and then two weeks later the Republican Party said, I'm sorry, actually Santorum won by 34 votes. There is a degree to which the parties in this state have difficulty with the responsibility they have been given in this first of the nation caucus honor that they have.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: And just by way of context, four years ago, at this hour, 90 percent of the results were in.
TAPPER: As opposed to zero?
BASH: As opposed to zero percent. And look, I mean, we've all been hearing and seeing that they're saying that they want to make sure that there is quality control, that there is the integrity of the results, which everybody applauds. But at some point it would be nice to know what they actually mean by that. We were just down not too far from here at a pretty big caucus. There were --
TAPPER: More than 300 people. BASH: More than 300 people there. And that took a while. Just to --
in the room it took a while. The counting was a little off at the beginning. They had to do it and redo it and that was just in the room. We're waiting for them to see if they can actually transmit the results back to the state party.
TAPPER: Right. But as our team has been noting all week there have been concerns raised about this new app, this new app for the phones that the parties were -- the precincts were going to call into the Party using this app and whether questions about whether or not it worked properly.
We've been reaching out to all the campaigns to try to find out if they know anything. They don't seem to know much more than we do. But let's go to Arlette Saenz, who covers the Biden campaign for us. And Arlette, you're -- I think at Drake University, what are you hearing from team Biden? Do you have any idea what's going on? What are you learning?
SAENZ: Well, Jake, they're certainly working to find out what is going on with these delayed results. I spoke with an adviser who said that he's been in contact with the Iowa Democratic Party, spoken to them several times. And what they've been told is that they are checking with their data team and they are going to keep the Biden campaign as all campaigns posted on an ETA for when they may get closer to releasing results.
But this adviser told me that it's very frustrating to not have these results and just now and also to not know exactly how this is all playing out. But here at Biden headquarters there are certainly a lot of supporters who have filed in here for this event, eager to see how their candidate is going to do, one area that they're specifically interested in is those rural areas, but the Biden campaign is in contact with the Iowa Democratic Party and trying to get more information about these delayed results.
TAPPER: All right. Arlette Saenz, thank you so much. Dana?
BASH: And we have reporters all over this state with the key campaigns, all the campaigns, really. I want to get now to M.J. Lee with the Warren campaign. And M.J., I know you've been working your sources. What are you hearing over there?
LEE: Well, Dana, I hear at Elizabeth Warren's election night party in Des Moines, the room is getting full, but the campaign does not know what's going on. And a senior aide that I was speaking to tells CNN that with every minute that there is a delay they worry that the process loses credibility. So it is clear that at this point in the evening there is serious concern among some of these campaigns.
And I will tell you, this obviously affects the plans that Senator Warren has for the night as well. Behind me you can see the podium. And there are two teleprompters that are set up suggesting that she is going to give prepared remarks. At this point we have no idea when that might happen and also keep in
mind, too, whenever she is finished the plan is for her and her family, including her dog, and many of the reporters who cover Senator Warren, to pile onto a plane and fly directly to New Hampshire overnight so that she can begin her campaigning there. So, all of those plans are in flux right now as the campaigns wait to figure out what is going on with these delays.
But again, the concerns are serious. The senior aide telling CNN that with every passing minute that there's a delay they worry that the process will lose credibility. Dana?
TAPPER: All right. M.J. Lee with Warren headquarters. Let's go now to Ryan Nobles who covers Senator Bernard Sanders for us. Ryan, what are you hearing from Sanders H.Q.?
NOBLES: Jake, actually just in the last few seconds as you were waiting to come for me, I did get a confirmation from a senior aide to the Bernie Sanders campaign that they have been called to a meeting by the Iowa Democratic Committee to discuss the delay and the results. He didn't have any information about what would come from that meeting but he did confirm that the Sanders campaign does have a representative at this meeting. There's no indication at this point as to what exactly this conversation is going to be about.
But we can now confirm that the Iowa Democratic Party is at -- at least from my perspective I can tell you that they've reached out to the Bernie Sanders campaign to have a conversation as to exactly what this delay is about. So, we're working to find out more information about that. But at this point, Jake, that's what we know. So, I'll send it back to you.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles, thanks so much. And we're hearing anecdotally from a number of individuals who are precinct secretaries, precinct captains talking about how they're having trouble with their apps and they are having trouble even calling into the Iowa Democratic Party.
Dabs that's right and I want to get now to Abby Phillip who is -- Abby Phillip, go ahead with your reporting.
PHILLIP: Hey, Dana, well, we're trying to reach our sources right now about what's going on. And frankly, Dana, there's a lot of tight lipped action happening here, especially with the Buttigieg campaign, not talking a whole lot about the problems, but one aide did tell me that they are simply waiting to see what the results are.
But I did speak to another aide from a different campaign from the Biden campaign that said that they believe that caucusers are still caucusing and that there are problems with the app that it's supposed to be used for the reporting so that's some of the reason that they have to explain for this delay.
Meanwhile, in the Buttigieg campaign, they're just relying on their own organizers. They've heard back from 76 percent of their precinct captains, they have captains in all 1,600 districts here -- precincts here in Iowa. So, that's what they're relying on now. Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Abby. It's the top of the hour, its 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast, 10:00 p.m. out in Iowa. Right now four years ago, four years ago, 90 percent of the precincts in Iowa had already reported the results in the Democratic presidential caucuses.
Right now zero percent of the precincts have reported the results and it's causing a lot of heartburn out there, especially among the candidates. They want to know what's going on.