Presidential Primaries Kick Off in Iowa and New Hampshire


Joseph Sohm

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the frontrunners in the Democratic Primary, suffered a narrow defeat in the Iowa Caucus but managed to pull out a win against Pete Buttegieg in New Hampshire. (Image courtesy of Imagequest)

Sarah Ambrose, Staff Writer

On Monday, February 3, the 2020 Presidential Primaries officially kicked off with the Iowa Caucuses. A form of Presidential Primaries in certain states, caucuses are party gatherings in each town where people physically move to group themselves among fellow supporters of a specific candidate. If a candidate doesn’t have enough supporters, they can be eliminated and their supporters will have to vote in favor of a different candidate. 

The Iowa Caucus is always a significant part of the primary election cycle as it is the very first time people get to vote on their preferred candidates, moving the process along and encouraging less popular candidates to drop out. “It is the first vote of the election cycle and although it doesn’t necessarily always predict outcomes, for Democrats for the past five election cycles who’s won [the Iowa Caucus] has been the nominee,” AP Government teacher Andy Merritt said.

On the Republican side, incumbent President Donald Trump was almost unopposed, earning a total of 39 delegates and a total of 97.1% of the vote. Only Bill Weld was able to take a single Republican delegate from Trump, earning 1.3% of the vote.

The Democratic side was much more chaotic going into the caucus, due to the vast number of candidates running. That chaos only heightened as technological errors prevented complete results from being released until the end of the week. In the end, following a neck and neck race, Pete Buttigieg managed to pull ahead of Bernie Sanders, earning 13 delegates and 26.2% of the vote, just above Sanders’s 12 delegates and 26.1% of the vote. Elizabeth Warren trailed behind in 3rd with 8 delegates and 18% of the vote. Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar rounded out the top five, picking up six and one delegate(s), respectively.

On Wednesday, February 11, the first primary vote of the election cycle happened in New Hampshire. Rather than having the time-consuming efforts of a caucus, this involved each person simply casting an individual vote, which takes only a few minutes. Donald Trump swept the Republican primary, picking up every available delegate. For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg both earned nine delegates, with Sanders slightly edging to the top of the popular vote, taking 25.7% of the vote compared to Buttigeig’s 24.4%. Amy Klobuchar also had a strong showing in New Hampshire, collecting six delegates and 19.8% of the vote. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden both flopped, failing to earn any delegates. The New Hampshire primaries led to multiple candidates dropping out of the race, including high profile presidential hopeful Andrew Yang.

For the remaining candidates, the race for the Democratic nomination continues with the Nevada Caucus on February 22 and the South Carolina Primary on February 29. State High students who are registered voters will have the chance to voice their opinions when the Pennsylvania Primary occurs on Tuesday, April 28.