DES MOINES — Less than 48 hours from now, hundreds of thousands of Iowans will gather in schools and churches and libraries and gymnasiums, from the Mississippi River to the Missouri, and participate in the first nominating contest of the 2020 election.
At that point, all the candidates will be able to do is wait: for the verdict and, they hope, for one of those elusive “tickets out of Iowa.”
But for now, they are trying to make the most of the few hours in which their Iowa fates are still, sort of, in their hands.
A highly anticipated poll of Iowa Democrats, set to be released two days before the presidential caucuses, was shelved on Saturday night after complaints about irregularities in the methodology.
The concerns, raised by aides to former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, prompted CNN to cancel an hourlong special organized to release the results of the survey, conducted with the Des Moines Register.
David Chalian, CNN’s political director, said on-air that CNN and The Register had decided “out of an abundance of caution” not to release the poll after the network learned of a potential problem with the way the survey was conducted.
The survey is considered the gold standard for polling in the notoriously hard-to-predict state and is carefully watched as an early indicator of strength in the caucuses.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Bernie Sanders closed out his night with a huge concert in Cedar Rapids, featuring Vampire Weekend.
The arena was packed, with fog machines creating a delicate haze.
Mr. Sanders delivered his familiar stump speech, touching on “Medicare for all,” a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public college and other progressive policies he has championed.
“People have been demanding an agenda that works for workers, not just the 1 percent,” he said. “That’s what this campaign is about.”
But if his remarks were routine, the atmosphere was not. The crowd was electric, cheering his every proposal. It has become a cliché to describe his voice as booming, but it reverberated around the arena.
His was a campaign with energy on Saturday night. But not everyone who came to the event was there to see him.
“I’m here for the music and here for the party,” said Doug Uridil, 48, a heating and air conditioning contractor from Cedar Rapids.
WATERLOO — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. lamented the actions of Senate Republicans who ensured that Mr. Trump would be acquitted in his Senate trial at his final event of the day.
Mr. Biden, who represented Delaware in the Senate for decades, said that he “was proud to serve in that organization. One of the greatest honors of my life. But folks, it’s not the Congress I know. Not the Senate I know.”
He referenced Republicans who have expressed concerns about Mr. Trump’s actions that led to his impeachment, but have, in Mr. Biden’s view, excused him anyway.
“I find that kind of fascinating,” he said.
Still, as he often does, Mr. Biden insisted that consensus was still possible.
The former vice president also went on a riff about American exceptionalism, praising the country’s diversity and saying that in contrast to other nations that may be defined by religion or ethnicity, America is defined by an “idea.”
And he revived a clash over health care, implicitly suggesting that Senator Bernie Sanders’s far-reaching policy proposals — and what Mr. Biden characterized as a lack of specificity around them — amount to an electoral liability.
“Good people on our team had these incredibly good ideas,” he said. “I wonder why they don’t know how much it’s going to cost with ‘Medicare for all.’ How much it’s going to cost to forgive all student debt.”
Health care, in particular, has been a major flashpoint between Mr. Sanders, who champions “Medicare for all,” and Mr. Biden, who wants to add a public option to the health care system and to build on Obamacare.
“We have to beat Donald Trump,” he said. “And the one thing we can’t do is end up not being straight with the American people. He’ll eat you alive. Eat us alive. Tell it straight. Tell the people what it’s going to cost. Why it’s important.”
DES MOINES — CNN abruptly canceled a special Saturday night broadcast of the results of a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowa caucusgoers, according to a network official, after complaints from Pete Buttigieg’s campaign that his name was not included in at least one of their telephone calls for its poll this week.
It was not immediately clear whether the results of the highly anticipated poll would be released.
The Register and CNN were expected to announce the results of the highly anticipated poll around 9 p.m. Eastern Saturday as part of a special broadcast on the cable channel. Shortly before 9 p.m., the CNN chyrons promoting the special were taken down, creating uncertainty about the poll’s release.
According to a senior official on Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign, an Iowa supporter of Mr. Buttigieg received a poll phone call from an operator working for Ann Selzer, who runs the Register’s famed Iowa Poll, but the name of the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., was not listed on the menu of candidate options.
This supporter then relayed what had happened to Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign, which contacted Ms. Selzer about it. But the Buttigieg aide, who requested anonymity to discuss a private conversation, said the pollster offered little information about how many surveys the former mayor and one-time Iowa front-runner was left off.
Ms. Selzer did not immediately respond to an email regarding whether she still planned to release the survey.
Early Saturday evening, a researcher who works on the poll at Selzer & Company, the pollster, had said the poll was still going to be released and that there were no issues with the results.
CEDAR RAPIDS — At Pete Buttigieg’s campaign stops, the hard sell is an unsubtle reminder of another Midwesterner with an interesting name who won the hearts of Iowa Democrats.
The former mayor of South Bend, Ind., rarely mentions Barack Obama by name, but he doesn’t have to. Like early adopters of a band that later became big, Iowa Democrats remain immensely proud, 12 years after Mr. Obama won an upset victory in the 2008 caucuses that propelled him to the White House.
Now Mr. Buttigieg and his key surrogates are laying it on thick, describing his candidacy as the second coming of Mr. Obama, needing only a victory in Monday’s caucuses as the final piece before he’s embraced by the rest of the country.
“The great thing about Iowa is you have a knack for changing what people think is possible about presidential politics,” he says at the close of his events. Iowa, he says, gave the rest of the country “permission” to believe that Mr. Obama could really win the presidency, and would do the same for him if he wins too.
Representative Dave Loebsack of Iowa, Mr. Buttigieg’s highest profile endorser in the state, told the Saturday night crowd at a hotel on the fast-growing outskirts of Cedar Rapids that Iowans could feel the same pride in picking Mr. Buttigieg as they do for Mr. Obama.
“In December 2007 I decided to go with a pretty young guy who had a pretty funny name and he turned out pretty well as president,” Mr. Loebsack said. “Once I could stand in front of audiences and say, ‘Pete Buttigieg,’ that’s when I decided to go with him.”
CEDAR FALLS — Speaking at her third event of the day roughly 90 minutes from the Iowa-Minnesota border, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota boasted of her victories in the southern part of her state as an argument for her potential in the Iowa caucuses.
“One issue that unites everyone is winning,” she said in a crowded hall at the Women’s Club here. “This is my last pitch for you: I’ve won every race, every place, every time.”
She continued to list those places: “the most rural districts, including the one bordering Iowa, by big margins.” She pointed to carrying northern regions of the state currently represented by Republicans.
“I even have won in Michele Bachmann’s district,” she proclaimed, much to the delight of the crowd.
Although, as she spoke of being a uniquely qualified Midwestern unifier — “I’m the only candidate on that debate stage that asked to be on the Agriculture Committee” — she may have alienated a smaller segment of the voting population: sports marketers.
As she argued for reimagining education to meet jobs her administration would create, like nurses or electricians, Ms. Klobuchar added, “We are not going to have a shortage of sports marketing degrees.” She paused. “I know that somebody here probably has one or has a kid that has one, so I’ve lost your vote,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
DES MOINES — Amid the campaigning and the schmoozing, the baby-kissing and hand-shaking, the political world prepared for a big arrival in Iowa on Saturday night.
No, it’s not another candidate jumping into the race. Or even a major surrogate (ahem, President Barack Obama).
Highly anticipated by campaigns, reporters and operatives, the final Des Moines Register/CNN survey is an annual rite of passage in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Iowans typically finalize their choices late in the campaign, often deciding whom to support in the days before the caucuses occur.
The late-breaking nature of the state’s political culture lends the poll outsized influence, with the power to fuel a last minute surge in the state or can be an early dirge for candidates who are struggling.
Last month’s release showed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont edging ahead of his Democratic rivals, with 20 percent, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 17 percent, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., at 16 percent, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at 15 percent.
Many will be looking to see whether Mr. Sanders, who seems to have momentum heading into Monday evening’s caucuses, has expanded his lead.
The poll, conducted by respected Iowa-based pollster J. Ann Selzer, is renowned for its ability to predict the notoriously unpredictable caucuses.
Her final poll in 2008 showed Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton and then-Senator John Edwards, correctly anticipating a turnout surge that caught Ms. Clinton’s campaign by surprise.
This year, CNN is devoting an hour of breathless coverage to the poll’s release.
CEDAR RAPIDS — As Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. neared the end of the rope line at his afternoon event here, shaking hands and taking pictures, he encountered Jaimee Warbasse, a hairstylist from Cedar Rapids who was still undecided.
Ms. Warbasse had been excited for Mr. Biden to enter the race and told him so, she recalled in an interview. She also told him that she hadn’t made up her mind, and asked what he would say to sway voters like her.
“If I haven’t swayed you today, then I can’t sway you,” Mr. Biden said.
“Look, I never say anything I can’t do,” he added. “Everything I say, I’ve done, and everything I talk about is authentic. Now, if you don’t like what I’m talking about, I understand. You can be for somebody else. But ask yourself, who is going to be able to unite the country? How can Pete do that? How can Bernie do that? And so ask yourself that question.”
Mr. Biden said that he trusted Ms. Warbasse’s judgment and encouraged her to pick “whoever you feel in your heart and in your head.”
He also took an implicit swipe at Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, suggesting that he exaggerates about how to pay for expansive policy proposals.
“I do what I say and I don’t lie,” he said. “I don’t mislead. And I tell the truth about how much things are going to cost, and I tell you who’s going to pay for it. And so if that’s important, take a look at me. I’d like to earn your vote.”
It didn’t work.
“He 100 percent could have swayed me, and I was hoping that he would and he did not,” Ms. Warbasse said after.
She had started the campaign skeptical of Mr. Sanders — “oh my God, he is too old,” she said of her view at the time. But she said she found Mr. Biden’s campaign message “very generic.”
She was also once interested in Senator Elizabeth Warren, but her exchange with Mr. Sanders on the debate stage last month over who was being truthful regarding a private conversation “put a stain in my mouth.”
“If she can’t handle that, I know she can’t handle Trump,” Ms. Warbasse said.
And so, after the Biden event here ended, she concluded that if she were caucusing today, it would probably be for Mr. Sanders.
DES MOINES — If you’re expecting a clear-cut result on Monday night — this candidate won, this candidate was second, this one third — you might want to adjust those expectations.
In past years, the Iowa Democratic Party reported only one set of numbers: how many delegates each candidate had won, a measure technically called state delegate equivalents, or S.D.E.s. But this year, they will report S.D.E.s alongside two other numbers: the first alignment (raw supporter totals at the beginning of the caucuses) and the final alignment (totals after nonviable candidates are eliminated and their supporters move to their second choices).
Technically, the delegates are still what counts. But campaigns will be able to use the first and final alignments to spin the results if they think those numbers make them look stronger, which means more than one candidate could leave Iowa claiming victory.
Most news organizations, including The New York Times, will use state delegate equivalents to declare a winner, and so will several campaigns. But representatives for two candidates — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer — told us they considered the first alignment the most important measure.
While most of the Democratic field barnstormed Iowa on Saturday, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who is not competing in the state, released a tax plan from afar.
His plan would raise roughly $5 trillion in new revenue from corporations and wealthy Americans, including by taxing an extra 5 percent on income over $5 million and increasing capital gains taxes for millionaires. But it is significantly less aggressive than many other candidates’ plans.
In particular, Mr. Bloomberg is not calling for a wealth tax, which Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and the former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer have all endorsed.
And while he called for repealing the 2017 Republican-backed tax cuts for wealthy Americans, he would only partly repeal the cuts given to corporations.
Mr. Bloomberg is not campaigning in the four early-voting states but he is polling as high as 10 percent nationally.
GRINNELL — During a quick stop with supporters at a coffee shop, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont again emphasized his ability to beat President Trump in November — but he did so lightheartedly.
“There is a lot of discussion, as you know, about electability — which candidate stands the best chance to defeat Donald Trump,” he said. “Let’s do a scientific poll.”
He urged those in attendance to raise their hands if they thought he was the strongest candidate.
After surveying the room, he declared himself the winner “based on a deep analysis and investigation of the American electorate.”
DUBUQUE — The former mayor of South Bend, Ind., opened his remarks at Loras College on Saturday with a paean to his hosts, calling Dubuque “a river city that reminds me of my own home.”
Last summer during a stop in Mason City, he said his conversation with the mayor there had touched on job growth strategies. “It’s something that reminds me of home,” he said.
And in July, he called Waterloo “a community that very much reminds me of my home, a river town that’s been up against a lot but is finding ways to grow in the 21st century.”
Even in Allendale, S.C., when taking a question from a voter in December about how to bring jobs back to an economically depressed county that is 73 percent black, Mr. Buttigieg said, “it reminds me of our community in a way,” recalling what had happened in South Bend after the Studebaker auto company left town.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who had been delivering an animated version of his stump speech, was briefly knocked off course when someone needed medical attention.
After, he took a few minutes to get back into his rhythm, looking repeatedly at his notes. But he moved back into a more fiery mode as he sought to contrast President Trump’s vision for the nation with his.
“I don’t believe we’re a nation that bows down to Vladimir Putin because I sure in hell — heck — will not,” he declared.
He earned some of his loudest applause when he talked about taking on the National Rifle Association.
Throughout his speech, Mr. Biden pitched himself as the most experienced candidate in the race, emphasizing his record on matters including health care, climate change and guns.
“It’s not enough to make promises,” he said, drawing an implicit contrast with several of his rivals. “You’ve got to keep them, but you also have to have a record to demonstrate you’re able to get things done.”
Mr. Biden drew a fired-up crowd to Cedar Rapids. But not everyone in the room was from Iowa. As has been the case at many campaign events across Iowa in recent days, attendees have come from outside the state to see the political show up close.
In addition to the Delaware delegation Mr. Biden introduced toward the start of the event, former Secretary of State John Kerry, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate, noted that there was a group present from his state.
Mr. Kerry also said that since his New England Patriots were not competing in the Super Bowl, he would be rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, a remark that got a mixed reception from the crowd.
BOONE — A couple of hundred people packed a Mexican restaurant for Andrew Yang, who was running late.
Even though Mr. Yang may have difficulty reaching the 15 percent threshold required to earn delegates in many caucuses, his supporters seemed not to have settled on a second choice candidate to realign with in that scenario.
“I’m going to make up my mind on Monday,” said A.J. Sorenson, who works in organic farming. He said the Yang campaign had not given its precinct leaders any guidance on this issue.
Logan Hull, a graduate student, said, “I haven’t given that much thought.” When pressed, he named Pete Buttigieg. “His military experience caught my eye. I have friends in the military who have the same kind of analysis he did after the death of General Suleimani,” he added, discussing the aftermath of the American drone strike that killed the Iranian security and intelligence commander in early January.
But Ann Bacon, who runs a nonprofit group, did quickly name a second choice: “Bernie.”
After Mr. Yang’s signature universal basic income, she said her top issue was student debt. At 56, she was still in debt from her undergraduate degree.
“That’s what did it,” she said. “I was a single mom as an undergrad, so student loans are what I lived on.”
When Mr. Yang took the stage, he expressed pleasure at the size of the crowd, asking how many people there were. “I’m going to give a Trumpian answer,” he said. “There are at least 800 people.”
At the end of the appearance, Mr. Hull rose and said he had been a Republican in 2016 but since seeing Mr. Yang, he had flipped. “I’ve never donated to a Democratic candidate before. I have $35 in my wallet. Can I give that to you now?”
DES MOINES — The Democratic National Committee released its latest debate qualification criteria on Friday, and as is tradition, some candidates think they’re unfair.
But this time, it’s for a different reason than usual: not because many candidates could be kept off the stage (though that’s certainly true), but because one candidate in particular could be on it.
To make the debate in Nevada on Feb. 19, candidates can do one of two things: They can win one or more delegates in Iowa or New Hampshire, or they can meet a polling threshold (12 percent in two Nevada or South Carolina polls, or 10 percent in four national, Nevada or South Carolina polls). The longstanding requirement that candidates have a minimum number of donors is gone, which means for the first time, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York — who is neither fund-raising nor fighting for delegates in the first four states — could qualify.
Several candidates — including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and the entrepreneur Andrew Yang — accused the D.N.C. of changing the rules midstream to benefit Mr. Bloomberg. They noted that the party had refused to do the same when it was candidates like Cory Booker and Julián Castro who were falling short.
Mr. Biden’s response to the change: He doesn’t even go here!
“They removed it so he could be in the next debate,” Michael Moore, a surrogate for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, declared at an event in Clive, Iowa, on Friday. “He doesn’t have to show he has any support among the American people.”
The D.N.C. argues that the polling requirement is sufficient to demonstrate support, and 10 percent in four recent national, Nevada or South Carolina polls is a pretty high bar in this race. Only Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have met it so far, and only two other candidates — former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and, yes, Mr. Bloomberg — have even one qualifying poll.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. began his second event of the day by introducing the Delaware crew that had turned out to support him here in the Iowa homestretch, including Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester.
Spotting another friend in the crowd, he appeared so overjoyed as he interrupted himself to greet the man, that he acknowledged that he had lost his train of thought.
A member of the audience reminded him that he had just been praising Representative Abby Finkenauer, the Iowa Democrat who had introduced him.
His remarks came at a crowded, relatively small gym here and featured representation from the firefighters’ union, which has backed Mr. Biden and includes some of his most vocal supporters.
Mr. Biden tends to respond to a crowd’s energy — high or low — and he was fired up on Saturday afternoon.
INDIANOLA — On the final weekend before the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders made his most forceful case yet that he was the most electable candidate, saying that he would defeat President Trump in the general election because he could excite voters, speak to the working class and expose Mr. Trump’s populist “hypocrisy.”
“I believe very strongly — and no disrespect to my Democratic colleagues who are competing for the nomination, they are friends of mine — but I believe that we are the strongest campaign to defeat Trump, and I’ll tell you why,” he said, vowing to express himself “bluntly.”
To beat Mr. Trump, he said, “We need to have the largest voter turnout in American history.”
“If it is a low-turnout election, Trump will win,” he said. “And I believe that our campaign is the campaign of energy, is the campaign of excitement, is the campaign that can bring millions of people into the political process who normally do not vote.”
He said his campaign was reaching out in particular to working-class people “to bring them into the political process” and young people — two groups of people who typically have lower voter turnout. He said he could beat Mr. Trump “because we are developing the strongest grass roots movement,” stating as proof that his campaign had knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors in the final weeks of the Iowa campaign.
And, he said, he could beat Mr. Trump because he would show working-class people that Mr. Trump was not lifting them up as he had promised in his 2016 campaign, but keeping them down.
“I know we are going to defeat Trump because we have the agenda that speaks to the needs of working families,” he said.
For much of his 2020 campaign, Mr. Sanders has been making a broad argument that he is the candidate who is best positioned to oust Mr. Trump. He went on a “Bernie Beats Trump” tour in Iowa in September, and his campaign frequently highlights polls showing him defeating Mr. Trump in a head-to-head match-up.
Mr. Trump, for his part, has increasingly targeted Mr. Sanders, and Republicans have attacked his self-described democratic socialism. But Mr. Sanders’s remarks on Saturday represented his most direct appeal yet.
Iowans have been extraordinarily focused on selecting a candidate who can win in November, and many remain undecided because they are wary of making a mistake that could elevate an ultimately weak nominee.
Mr. Sanders’s address cut to the core of this uncertainty, here in Iowa and elsewhere.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Senator Elizabeth Warren kicked off her final blitz of campaign events Saturday afternoon, pitching herself as a candidate who can unite the Democratic Party’s moderate and progressive factions.
At a house party Saturday, Ms. Warren’s campaign debuted signs that read “UNITE THE PARTY,” a subtle suggestion that the campaigns of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who are leading in recent polls of Iowa Democrats, represent figures of the past.
Though Ms. Warren has fallen in those polls, her aides have touted their early investment in organizers in the state, who have created deep relationships that they hope pay dividends on caucus night.
The focus on unity was clear at her larger rally Saturday afternoon, which also featured Representative Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, one of her campaign co-chairs. In a rare diversion from her traditional stump speech, Ms. Warren started by thanking other candidates who were in the race, and the supporters who have talked with her throughout the campaign.
“I’ve heard from you,” Ms. Warren said. “You’ve pressed notes in my hand. You’ve told me about your lives and your issues. You’ve made me a better candidate.”
“We will — we must — come together as a party and defeat Donald Trump,” Ms. Warren said. “And I’ve got a plan for that.”
In another sign of Ms. Warren’s urgency in the final days, her campaign diverted from the tried-and-true picture line she has held at every event. Instead, Ms. Warren jetted to her next event in Iowa City, and her golden retriever stayed for pictures.
“He’s been working on his smile, he’s ready — he’s ready,” Ms. Warren said of her dog, Bailey.
Ms. Warren is set to end her day with an event in Davenport, an Iowa town in the eastern portion of the state. Ms. Warren’s campaign also announced new events on Sunday, including a rally in Ames.
Ms. Warren also ended her event with a plea for Democrats to unite. She referenced the candidates who have dropped out the race, and said she was proud many on their campaign staffs had joined her campaign.
“I’ve been building a campaign from the beginning,” she said. “That’s not a campaign that says us, nobody else. It’s a campaign that says, come on in.”
DES MOINES — The Biden campaign sent its top donors a private memo on Friday touting that January had been the campaign’s “strongest month of fund-raising since launch.” There were no numbers revealed in the memo.
But that one fact, combined with a fresh batch of fund-raising figures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday, provides a road map to estimate about how much Mr. Biden raised in the crucial last month before the Iowa caucuses.
Mr. Biden’s best month of fund-raising came when he entered the race in April 2019, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records from the Biden campaign and ActBlue, a main online donation processing platform for Democrats. He raised approximately $9.7 million that month.
But a Biden campaign official clarified that the “best month” figure was not including that first month. Since then, Mr. Biden’s best month was October 2019, when he raised approximately $7.9 million.
So the math: Mr. Biden raised somewhere between $8 million and $9.7 million in January 2020.
Mr. Biden had entered January at a financial disadvantage to his leading rivals, with $8.9 million cash on hand — less than half of the $18.2 million that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had in the bank, even as Mr. Sanders had spent more than twice as much as Mr. Biden, $50.1 million, in the previous three months, according to reports filed on Friday.
Only one candidate has voluntarily disclosed his or her January fund-raising so far: the businessman Andrew Yang, who raised $6.7 million.
The memo also listed some new members of Mr. Biden’s national finance committee: Penny Pritzker, Jane Hartley, Marc Lasry, Mark Gallogly, Blair Effron, Alex Heckler and Rufus Gifford.
DES MOINES — If you’re on Twitter and paying attention to the presidential campaign, chances are you know of Iowa Starting Line. It’s less than five years old, with six staff members, but its bare-bones operation now rivals The Des Moines Register in influence.
“If I want to know what’s happening on the ground in Iowa, I’m clicking on The Register or Iowa Starting Line, and not necessarily in that order,” Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent, said.
Iowa Starting Line’s Twitter feed, which has more than 27,000 followers, is a constant stream of video clips and quotes from campaign events — and scoops. Read more about it below.
NORTH LIBERTY — In a private memo circulated to donors on Friday, the Biden campaign announced that it had hired Dave Huynh as the campaign’s delegate adviser.
Mr. Huynh, known as “Delegate Dave” in political circles for his expertise in delegate math, previously worked for Senator Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign as well as for Hillary Clinton.
The hire signals the extent to which the campaign is preparing for a drawn-out contest.
“The VP remains in a strong position to perform well in the first four states and on Super Tuesday, but we’re also planning for an extended process into the summer,” wrote Greg Schultz, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, projecting a “tight race” in Iowa and New Hampshire.
For months the campaign downplayed Mr. Biden’s chances here in Iowa, but it has invested heavily in the state more recently.
Mr. Schultz went on to predict that Mr. Biden would be “competitive” in Iowa and argue that he “outperforms the field in the states that are more reflective of the diversity of the overall Democratic primary electorate than Iowa and New Hampshire.” Mr. Schultz cited polling in Nevada and South Carolina and opportunities the campaign sees on Super Tuesday, when a slate of states with sizable African-American populations will vote.
Mr. Biden has landed endorsements from a number of prominent leaders in key Super Tuesday states, but some of his allies are privately anxious about a possible threat from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who is heavily focused on those contests.
“Monday’s contest begins the process,” Mr. Schultz wrote. “It doesn’t end it.”
DES MOINES — The candidates give them every day, often multiple times a day, and in some cases so consistently that the reporters who follow them from event to event can practically recite them from memory. Yes, we’re talking about stump speeches.
The Times annotated six of them to give you a better sense of how the candidates have tried to appeal to Iowans in the final days and weeks before the caucuses.
OELWEIN — The quadrennial invasion of Iowa by out-of-state college students, busloads of tour groups and the foreign press is in full effect and Pete Buttigieg is happy to oblige.
Already this week he’s taken questions about Pacific Rim defense policies from an Australian reporter, on climate change from students from Appalachian State University and, on Saturday morning in Waterloo, a question about how he’d win from a French television journalist.
“En français,” the reporter interjected during an otherwise English-only gaggle with reporters.
This reporter’s high school French was not adequate enough to translate the rest of his question. But Mr. Buttigieg responded just slowly enough to be understood.
“In the recent history of my party,” Mr. Buttigieg said in French, “we have won when we have a candidate with a new vision.”
A few minutes later, when asked by an American reporter why he thinks it would be a risk for Democrats to nominate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Buttigieg said pretty much the same thing.
“In looking at the lessons of history, our party wins when we have a nominee who is looking to the future,” Mr. Buttigieg said in English. “That’s been almost an iron law of presidential elections across the last half century. I recognize that this may be a unique election, but I certainly think we should remember those lessons in an election that we absolutely cannot afford to lose.”
DES MOINES — Andrew Yang, the former tech entrepreneur, raised more than $6.7 million in January, his campaign said on Saturday, becoming the first candidate to reveal his fund-raising haul for the month. Of that amount, he raised $1.2 million on Jan. 31.
The sum comes atop the $16.5 million Mr. Yang raised in the fourth quarter that vaulted him closer to the race’s leaders in terms of fund-raising. Despite those funds, Mr. Yang fell short of qualifying for the debate in January in Iowa, where he is wrapping up a 17-day bus trip ahead of Monday’s caucuses.
“We’ve carried our momentum from the previous quarter into the new year as we head into the Iowa caucuses, and now we’re in a prime position to compete on the ground and over the airwaves,” Nick Ryan, the campaign chief, said in a statement.
Mr. Yang has already qualified for the next debate in New Hampshire and his support from online donors — whom he calls the Yang Gang — has not slowed. His campaign said more than 70 percent of the money he raised came from online donations of less than $200.
In Federal Election Commission filings on Friday, Mr. Yang entered 2020 with the least cash on hand of the candidates who have qualified for the next debate: $3.7 million.
NORTH LIBERTY — John Kerry, the former secretary of state and presidential nominee, had just ticked through Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s record and his character as he urged Iowans to caucus for his longtime Senate colleague. Then he closed with a rhyme of sorts about Mr. Biden’s ability to defeat President Trump.
“He’s going to slice him and dice him,” he said. “He’s going to whack him and smack him. He’s going to mush him and crush him. He is going to beat him like a drum until this nightmare is done.”
NORTH LIBERTY — Mr. Biden has been leaning heavily on a stable of surrogates to boost his message in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses. In attendance at his first event of the day here: Representative Abby Finkenauer, Democrat of Iowa, who helped kick off the event, and former Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee who won the Iowa caucuses.
“We have got to do everything we can to make sure Joe Biden is the top of that ticket,” Ms. Finkenauer said Saturday morning as she introduced the former vice president.
Ms. Finkenauer represents a battleground district here in Iowa, and Mr. Biden has been pitching himself as the candidate best-positioned to aid candidates running in tough races further down the ballot.
Mr. Kerry, who spoke after Mr. Biden — an unusual set-up for a surrogate to serve as the closer, but one Mr. Biden has employed nonetheless — also urged the crowd to support “a candidate who has coattails.” He also colorfully defended Mr. Biden’s age, observing, “Nancy Pelosi is 79.”
“Seventy is the new 50s!” Mr. Kerry claimed. Mr. Biden is 77 and one of the biggest reservations voters raise about his campaign is his age.
INDIANOLA — In the crowd at Bernie Sanders’s first event of his final swing through Iowa at a college here in Indianola, there were some unlikely attendees: More than two dozen Australians.
The Iowa caucuses typically attract international interest, and this year has been no different. Leading up to Feb. 3, members of the foreign press descend on the state alongside national reporters. But civilians from other countries want to see the action, too, drawn to the American electoral process and the opportunity to see presidential candidates.
Some of the Australian contingency was part of a program run through the University of Adelaide. Several said they couldn’t believe how transparent and public the presidential campaign was, especially compared to their own elections.
“Back home, selecting leaders happens behind closed doors,” said David Cannon, who was helping to lead the trip.
There were other non-Iowans in the audience, too. Carl Nelson, 35, said he was from Seattle and had come to Iowa to volunteer for Mr. Sanders. He estimated he had knocked on 120 doors since he arrived a few days ago.
BETTENDORF — Senator Amy Klobuchar again called for any new evidence to be released in a 2002 murder case that was prosecuted while she was a county attorney, as civil rights activists and black community leaders in Minneapolis continued to call for her to suspend her campaign after a report raised questions about whether a black teenager was wrongly convicted.
“We did a D.N.A. review of all of our cases, this wasn’t one that involved D.N.A.,” Ms. Klobuchar told reporters after her campaign event here.
“But we looked back because you always want to make sure that you do the job right. So that’s going to mean if there’s new evidence in this case, it’s got to come out.”
Ms. Klobuchar’s handling of the case involving the teenager, Myon Burrell, has come under renewed scrutiny after The Associated Press published an investigation this week detailing what it said were numerous flaws.
It was a case Ms. Klobuchar often pointed to during her campaign, as evidence of both being tough on crime and seeking justice for minority communities rocked by gun violence. But the A.P. report found that one of Mr. Burrell’s co-defendants had said he was the one responsible for the murder.
My colleague Matt Stevens has more here.
NORTH LIBERTY — A heckler interrupted former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at his event here, comparing him to Hillary Clinton and urging the crowd, “don’t settle for Joe.”
In response, Mr. Biden suggested that the protester was one of the dozens of pro-Trump Republican surrogates who had deployed to Iowa this weekend.
“I’ll tell ya what, man,” he said. “I thought they were exaggerating when they said that, Republicans said that they were sending out 80 people to participate in the Democratic caucus.”
“Hey by the way,” he added, “give us back your Joe shirt.”
DES MOINES — Top strategists for Pete Buttigieg said they needed a top finish in Iowa on Monday and in New Hampshire the following week, but that first place was not a make-or-break deal for the campaign.
“We’re going to have to do well, there’s no question about that,’’ said Hari Sevugan, Mr. Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager, speaking at a press breakfast with other senior campaign advisers.
“But that does not necessarily mean we have to win.” He and the others — Lis Smith, Mr. Buttigieg’s communications adviser; Michael Halle, a senior strategist; and Mike Schmuhl, the campaign manager — said that Mr. Buttigieg’s ongoing viability would depend on the order of finishers and the spread between candidates.
Mr. Buttigieg, for his part, answered a similar question in Waterloo. “We need to do very well in Iowa — we’re in it to win it and believe that we will have a result that will propel us forward,” he said.
The strategists explained that they saw the race through Super Tuesday as a series of contests not in states, but in congressional districts, which determine how delegates to the national convention are awarded.
In recent days, Mr. Buttigieg has compared his race and his candidacy to that of Barack Obama’s in 2008, arguing that a top finish in Iowa (which Mr. Obama won) would give “everyone else permission that we can do this.’’
The inference especially is that black voters, who currently demonstrate little support for Mr. Buttigieg in polling, would follow the lead of Iowa caucusgoers and rally around him.
The Obama 2008 analogy is flawed, however, as my colleague Astead Herndon recently reported: Mr. Obama led Hillary Clinton in South Carolina with black voters well before the Iowa caucuses.
Mr. Sevugan said the top issue for communities of color was beating President Trump.
“Once we do well here in Iowa and in New Hampshire,’’ he insisted, “that sends a powerful signal across the country, including to communities of color, that this is the guy who can beat Donald Trump.’’
DES MOINES — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont remains a financial powerhouse, and the two billionaires in the Democratic primary race are spending enormous amounts of money on their candidacies, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission.
By Friday night, presidential candidates were required to report their fund-raising and spending for the fourth quarter of 2019. The filings provided a snapshot of the campaigns’ financial resources at the start of 2020 and offered a detailed look at how they have been spending their money.
Among the top candidates, Mr. Sanders raised the most money ($34.4 million), spent the most ($50.1 million) and entered January with the most cash on hand ($18.2 million). Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., had $14.5 million on hand, while Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had $13.7 million and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had $8.9 million.
The biggest spender in the quarter, by far, was one of the two billionaires in the primary race, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who spent $188.4 million. The other billionaire in the race, the former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, spent $153.7 million.
BETTENDORF — In her first event back in Iowa after spending most of the week tethered to Washington for the impeachment trial, Senator Amy Klobuchar summed up her final pitch with a geographic appeal: the path to a Democratic victory in 2020 is through the Midwest.
And, it so happens, as Ms. Klobuchar more than occasionally reminds crowds, she is from the Midwest: a senator from Minnesota who travels to her neighboring states often.
“I went on this long tour of the states that we should have won in 2016 that we did in the states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, of course Iowa, and then Minnesota, which Hillary won, but with the lowest percentage of votes that she had in any state that she won,” Ms. Klobuchar said.
“So when I went on that tour I decided, first of all, that we are going to build a beautiful blue wall of Democratic votes around those states and we’re going to make Donald Trump pay for it.”
Speaking to a crowd of 500 crammed into a local brewery, with an overflow crowd spilling into the bike shop next door, Ms. Klobuchar mixed her Midwest bona fides with her pitch to a more centrist view of the country.
She said she wanted to “build on the Affordable Care Act, I don’t think we should blow it up,” an indirect contrast to her progressive rivals’ plans for “Medicare for all.”
She said that the 2019 Democratic wins in the Kentucky and Louisiana governors’ races were powered by a fired up Democratic base, but “also independents and moderate Republicans.”
And she remembered fondly Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who died in 2018.
“I miss him very much,” she said, referencing the impeachment trial. “I often wondered as I often wondered as I sat there, hour after hour this week, how different things might have been if John McCain was still sitting in the Senate.”
DES MOINES — Zero Hour, the youth-led coalition that organized huge global climate marches in 2018, endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Saturday morning, citing “his radical and motivating plan to address the climate crisis and his support for the Green New Deal.”
Mr. Sanders already had the support of another powerful youth climate group, the Sunrise Movement, which endorsed him in January. The new endorsement is one more sign of progressive activists coalescing around his campaign.
Zero Hour also announced on Saturday that it was creating a 501(c)(4) branch, Zero Hour Movement, to participate directly in political campaigns; it was that branch that endorsed Mr. Sanders.
“People our age should vote for Bernie Sanders because we are the first generation to feel the effects of the climate crisis and also, unfortunately, the last generation to do anything about it,” Kaylah Brathwaite, director of operations and logistics at Zero Hour Movement, said in a Sanders campaign video.
Polls have shown that climate change is a top issue for Democrats, and especially for young voters.
WATERLOO — On the penultimate day of his Iowa caucus campaign, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., distilled his campaign message to a plea to Democrats: Let’s get over the fights that divided the party in 2016.
Mr. Buttigieg, as he’s been doing since Thursday, drew a gentle contrast with the Iowa front-runners, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
But his invocation of the bitter 2016 fight between Mr. Sanders and Hillary Clinton was a warning to not let a binary Biden-Sanders battle to overwhelm the party’s broader goal of removing President Trump from office.
“We’ve all seen some of the tensions that are emerging from some of those who share the same values,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “The less 2020 resembles 2016 in our party and our country, the better. It’s time to do something different.”
Mr. Buttigieg elaborated later in response to questions from reporters. “I think no matter which side of the fighting in 2016 you were on, there was a tremendous amount of frustration about what it led to and where we are and a sense of awareness that at the end of the day we’ve got to be united, not only around what we’re against but what we’re for,” he said.
“The vision, not just the philosophical vision, but really the policy vision of the different folks competing in this campaign is much more aligned than you would think based on the tone that in particular the online political space has taken,” he added.
At the National Cattle Congress Electric Park Ballroom, a classic Iowa venue where Buddy Holly once played before his fatal plane crash just west of here in Clear Lake, Mr. Buttigieg and his surrogates argued that the 38-year-old was both a change agent with “new ideas” and a throwback to a time when politicians of opposing parties worked together.
“Those were times when people got along they listened to each other, things weren’t so polarized,” Bill Dotzler, an Iowa state senator, said of Mr. Holly’s time. “Mayor Pete is a person who can bring us back because he listens to everyone.”
DES MOINES — Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a prominent supporter of the Bernie Sanders campaign, apologized on Saturday for urging a crowd the night before to boo Hillary Clinton.
“I am so incredibly in love with the movement that our campaign of #NotMeUs has created. This makes me protective over it and frustrated by attempts to dismiss the strength and diversity of our movement,” Ms. Tlaib said in a series of tweets. “However, I know what is at stake if we don’t unify over one candidate to beat Trump, and I intend to do everything possible to ensure that Trump does not win in 2020.”
She added: “In this instance, I allowed my disappointment with Secretary Clinton’s latest comments about Senator Sanders and his supporters to get the best of me. You all, my sisters-in-service on stage, and our movement deserve better. I will continue to strive to come from a place of love and not react in the same way of those who are against what we are building in this country.”
The incident happened Friday evening at an event in Clive, Iowa, after the moderator, Dionna Langford, brought up Mrs. Clinton’s recent assertion that “nobody likes” Mr. Sanders. When some people in the audience booed, Ms. Langford tried to quiet them: “No, we’re not going to boo,” she said. “We’re classy here.”
Ms. Tlaib then cut in, saying: “No, I’ll boo. Boo! You all know I can’t be quiet. No, we’re going to boo. That’s our right. The haters will shut up on Monday when we win.”
BETTENDORF — An overflow crowd in a bike shop greeted Senator Amy Klobuchar Saturday morning on the first day of her jetsetting trip around Iowa, powered by a chartered plane to get to the four corners of the state.
The senator diverted from her small stage in the brewery to separately address the overflow room, giving a (very) condensed version of her stump speech. But part of her pitch to Iowans was a look ahead, past the caucuses.
“I’ve got the endorsement of every single major newspaper in New Hampshire that has put out an endorsement,” she told the crowd, while also proclaiming that this January was the best fund-raising month of her entire campaign.
Taking note of the surroundings, with dozens of bikes hanging from the ceiling and bike racks offering a place to lean for the waiting crowd, Ms. Klobuchar spoke of an old hobby.
“I used to be a big cyclist,” she said from a set of stairs leading to a second floor showroom.
She spoke of one bike trip that she took from Minnesota to Wyoming. But the nostalgia quickly turned to a pitch to voters.
“That just shows you the grit I bring to this stage,” Ms. Klobuchar said.
NORTH LIBERTY — Last fall, Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign aides insisted that he didn’t need to win the leadoff caucus state. Amid a major winter press here, Mr. Biden told reporters, “I’m running to win.” And on Saturday morning, in the final push before the caucuses, Mr. Biden’s campaign aimed to set a fresh set of expectations: He’ll be “competitive,” and he’s not going anywhere, whatever happens in Iowa.
“The VP remains in a strong position to perform well in the first four states and on Super Tuesday, but we’re also planning for an extended process into the summer,” read a fund-raising email. “As we’ve said for several weeks, we see a tight race in Iowa and New Hampshire. With a small number of delegates awarded in those contests, it’s highly possible there will be a small delegate differential among the top candidates on February 4 and February 12.”
The note went on to stress Mr. Biden’s strengths in the diverse later-voting primary contests, including South Carolina and states with significant African-American populations — a core part of Mr. Biden’s base — that vote on Super Tuesday. Yet privately, some of Mr. Biden’s allies have acknowledged the threat that former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York could pose in Super Tuesday states, where he is concentrating his campaign with virtually unlimited resources.
On Friday night, as he campaigned in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Mr. Biden acknowledged to a CNN reporter that the margins here will matter, as he competes in an uncertain and fluid race.
“Let’s say everybody comes out of here with, you know, 19, 20, 21 and 22 percent,” he said. “Well, it’s essentially a tie. And so everybody goes to the next stop. If you come out here, somebody’s 25 and you’re at 12, you know, well then you’re done — in terms of Iowa.”
Then he laid out his own view of his path, saying that he has a “great firewall in South Carolina. I think we’re in a position where I think we’ll do very well in Nevada, I think it’s gonna be a real uphill race as it always is for a non-New Englander in New Hampshire. And I think it’s gonna be just a toss-up here.”
Privately, his team had been more upbeat in the first weeks of January here than they had been for much of the fall. Yet on the ground, Mr. Biden still appears to face organizational challenges and smaller crowds than many of his rivals, even as he has led some polls here in the final weeks, setting up a highly uncertain final stretch for his campaign.
DES MOINES — Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts rallied supporters at a local Des Moines brewery late Friday night, in a surprise visit only possible after she arrived late from Washington and the Senate impeachment trial.
Ms. Warren’s campaign schedule had been upended by the impeachment proceedings, and she could not attend an event earlier that evening. Instead, her husband announced at the event that Ms. Warren would take pictures with rallygoers across the street at a local bar, if supporters were inclined to wait. Hundreds packed the brewery in anticipation.
When Ms. Warren arrived, she addressed the crowd in short remarks, before holding the selfie line that has become a staple of all of her events.
“Over this year, you’ve made me a better candidate and you’ll make me a better president,” she said.
Ms. Warren thanked her campaign co-chairs, Representatives Deb Haaland of New Mexico, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, and Katie Porter of California.
The women have been among Ms. Warren’s chief surrogates as she’s been stuck in Washington, and they headlined the event earlier in the evening, which took place across the street.
“They prove kickass women win,” Ms. Warren said to cheers.
CLINTON — Every so often, Pete Buttigieg gets an out-of-left field question from an Iowa Democrat that’s not about how he’d beat President Trump or what he’d do to improve people’s health care.
On Friday afternoon at the Clinton Masonic Center, at the third of his four town hall events of the day, a man stood up and asked the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., to look inside himself and reveal “a moment that you felt vulnerable or you felt exceptionally human.”
“Well, it’s a really profound question,” Mr. Buttigieg replied. “The funny thing about being a candidate is it can really inflate your ego and cut you down to size, sometimes in the very same day.”
He then told a story that began, he said, about 10 months ago when he was first transforming from an also-ran to a first-tier candidate in the crowded Democratic presidential contest.
“People started to come up to me in airports and on the street,” he said. “I was on a flight, heading for somewhere in New Hampshire, and a lady standing next to me waiting to get on the plane looked at me.”
The woman, Mr. Buttigieg said, said she recognized him from somewhere. He wanted to help her remember, he said, but stopped himself.
“Then she said, ‘I know, you work for CNN!’” he said, to much laughter from the Clinton crowd of about 300 people.
Mr. Buttigieg said he replied: “I said, ‘Well, not quite. I’m running for president.”
The woman from the story, Mr. Buttigieg said, came to one of his New Hampshire events a few months later and is now a devoted supporter of his campaign.
DES MOINES — The Iowa caucuses are only two days away, and with the Senate impeachment trial adjourned for the weekend, the top candidates are all on the ground, sprinting to the finish line.
Here is a sampling of the events the candidates have planned:
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be holding “community events” in North Liberty, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be holding a rally in Indianola and a concert in Cedar Rapids.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has rallies scheduled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Davenport. Two top surrogates — Representative Ayanna Pressley and the former presidential candidate Julián Castro — will join her for part of the day.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., has rallies in Waterloo, Oelwein, Dubuque, Anamosa and Cedar Rapids.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is holding “get out the caucus” events in Bettendorf, Sioux City, Cedar Falls and Des Moines.
The entrepreneur Andrew Yang has town hall-style events in Fort Dodge, Carroll and Boone, a couple of canvass launches, and an evening rally in Des Moines.
The Times has reporters and photographers at most of these events. Check back here throughout the day for updates from the trail and other developments in the race.