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3 Takeaways From the Chaotic Iowa Caucuses

Yuval Rosenberg

Partial results from Monday night’s Iowa caucuses, released late Tuesday afternoon, show Pete Buttigieg leading in state delegates and Sen. Bernie Sanders leading in overall votes, with 62% of precincts reporting.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was third in delegates and former Vice President Joe Biden, who still leads in national polling, was fourth, well behind the top candidates.

While those results aren’t final — and the candidates have already moved on to New Hampshire — the chaotic Iowa caucuses offer a few lessons for those focused on health care:

1. A boost for Buttigieg and Sanders. Before the results were released, The Washington Post’s Paige Winfield Cunningham noted that entrance polling indicated that health care was the No. 1 issue for Iowa Democrats — and that Sanders and Buttigieg topped the field with health care voters: “Forty-two percent of caucus-goers last night said health-care is their top issue, according to entrance polling conducted by The Post and Edison Media Research. Of those voters, a quarter said they support Sanders while another quarter were Buttigieg fans.”

2. A win for Medicare for All? The entrance polling also found that 57% of voters support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan while 38% oppose the idea. “The conservative wing of the Democratic Party has been telling us voters won’t swallow Medicare-for-all once they learn they will lose their insurance,” Matt Bruenig, founder of People’s Policy Project, a social Democratic think tank, told the Post’s Jeff Stein. “But these results show voters are ready for Medicare-for-all. What more is there to say?” Among those who oppose a single-payer plan, Buttigieg was the top candidate, followed by Joe Biden.


3. An opening for GOP critics of Democratic health care plans. The delay in reporting caucus results, and technical and user issues with the app developed to deliver those numbers, led President Trump and others to question Democrats’ ability to govern. Trump tweeted that the Democratic caucuses were an “unmitigated disaster” and brought up the troubled launch of the Obamacare website. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale piled on. “It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process,” he said. “And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?” Conservative Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen echoed that point: “If you liked the Iowa caucuses, you’ll love government-run health care. The same party that could not manage calculating the votes of about 200,000 Iowa caucus-goers wants you to trust them with managing one-tenth of the U.S. economy.”

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