8:07pm - Well, here we are. After more than a year of prognosticating, predicting, and good-ol'-fashioned politicking, we have finally reached the first election night of the 2020 Presidential election.
According to the New York Times, there are seven candidates to take seriously tonight: Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, former tech executive Andrew Yang and former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer.
According to the Real Clear Politics average, here's a snapshot for where we are at going into Iowa:
According to NBC News, we are expecting a record crowd tonight. (As a side note, I tried to fact check the number listed on the NBC News article for total voters, and went down a wormhole into 2008 election results on the Iowa Secretary of State election results website. I couldn't find the 240,000 number cited on NBC News, though I don't doubt the veracity of that statement, as I found it also mentioned on other outlets. That said, I reserve the right to have a very nerdy rant someday on this blog about the indignity of sifting through election results on Secretary of State websites. While I can't say that I have been to every state's Secretary of State website [where election results are stored, presumably for nerds like me], I can say that all of the websites I have been to are hard to navigate and/or ugly. But I digress.)
The photo on the cover image of this post is a photo I took in a distant time, an almost forgotten era: September 2019. It was my first-ever visit to Iowa as an adult (I was born there and we moved then I was two). When I arrived back to the Hawkeye State, we had approximately 2,469 candidates in the field (ok, it was closer to 30). I went to the Polk County Steak Fry, an American tradition where Iowans pay about $30, get to eat delicious steaks, and get to mix and mingle with the candidates. It was like Bonaroo for Politics.
I got to see Beto O'Rourke, who was newly re-energized after a tragic shooting by a white nationalist in El Paso. I got to see Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and, yes, Marianne Williamson. (I also got to see some no-name candidates: Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Yang, and Klobuchar.)
It's been a long road to get to where we are tonight. And some of my friends have expressed a lot of fear and worry about the precipice that we stand upon. Tonight, Iowans set the tone for the early stages of the election cycle. Some of friends who favor progressive candidates are worried that voters will choose a "safe" choice between the more moderate candidates.
Me? I am ready. I am ready for a new conversation. After three years of the Trump administration and a year of campaigning, I am ready to see the first results of this cycle. I am ready to be one step closer to knowing who the nominee is going to be. I'm ready for the first day of the next phase.