Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg could be viewed as winners of the Iowa caucuses debacle, analysts said Tuesday, as the state’s party officials promised to release most of the delayed results by 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
The results were delayed Monday night by a problematic app and what officials called “quality checks” related to new reporting rules, in an unforeseen wrinkle that clouded the party’s first 2020 nominating contest.
“Maybe the person who benefited the most from this glitch might have been Joe Biden because all indications are that Joe Biden was sitting somewhere in the third or fourth range with the first alignments, and after realignment,” Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News, told his network. “It’s very possible that once they do the delegate reallocation, he was going to be in fourth.”
“If you look at it in that sense, Joe Biden may have dodged a bullet,” Todd added. He also said former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg “may have been the person hurt the most here.” Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had been leading in Iowa polls, appeared to have the most supporters at caucus locations, but Buttigieg’s support seemed to be the “most spread out” and “most across the board,” so the former mayor “may have been the one who could have won on the second alignment,” Todd said.
The Iowa caucuses had been expected to represent the first voter verdicts in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential primary. Ahead of Monday’s voting, Wall Street analysts warned about a potential drop for stocks if Sanders emerged as the victor, and they said the market
would feel supported if former Vice President Biden triumphed, rather than Sanders or the other top-tier progressive contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. U.S. stocks
were showing sizeable gains Tuesday.
“For investors worried about the high-tax, progressive policies of Warren or Sanders, the results coming out of Iowa should be heartening,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. The Sanders team “never got the big Iowa bounce they were counting on because of the botched handling of the results. That’s a big loss for Bernie.”
In addition to Biden, the winners were President Donald Trump and Bloomberg, the billionaire and former New York City mayor, according to KBW analyst Brian Gardner.
“Bloomberg’s best hope for winning the Democratic nomination is for a contested convention. The Iowa fiasco makes it incrementally more likely that Democrats will not have a winner before their convention in July,” Gardner wrote in a note.
Meanwhile, Trump looks “stronger than ever” thanks to the “dysfunction in Iowa,” the KBW analyst said. “He will take a victory lap on the economy during his State of the Union address tonight, he’s on the eve of being acquitted by the Senate, and his political opponents are in disarray in the wake of Iowa.”
The night’s losers included Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren, as they were “denied press coverage of what could have been a triumphant night for their campaigns,” Gardner said.
On the other hand, Height Capital Markets analysts saw benefits for both Biden and Sanders in the delayed Iowa results, as the ensuing confusion could raise the stakes for the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11 and Nevada’s contest on Feb. 22.
“We expect campaigns and the media will turn to those states as the new bellwethers for this race, which could be positive for Sen. Sanders who is polling well in New Hampshire and VP Biden who is still ahead in several Nevada polls,” Height’s team wrote in note.
Analysts at Beacon Policy Advisors said the Iowa snafu “may most benefit Joe Biden, who appeared to be underperforming expectations, while Pete Buttigieg, who seemed in contention to win at least by some measures, misses an opportunity for a key breakout moment.”