Speed Reads

2020 iowa caucuses

How Iowa's caucus disaster softened Biden's loss and marred Warren's overperformance

The Iowa caucuses may as well have happened under a rock.

With its 41 delegates making up just a percentage of the total delegate pool out there, Iowa gets an outsized reputation in the presidential primary process simply because it comes first. But with the full results of its caucuses still unrevealed 36 hours later, the often candidacy-ending state has lost most of its power.

Things didn't look good for former Vice President Joe Biden before the Iowa caucuses began, with state polls showing him far from the runaway frontrunner status he once claimed. The first chunk of results from Iowa backed that up: With 71 percent of precincts reporting, he was in a solid fourth place and could expect no delegates. But Biden didn't have to address that fact during his caucus night speech, even though he dropped out when he came in fifth place in Iowa when he was running in 2008.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has never held on to a top polling spot for long. And yet she outperformed those polls Monday night, wrangling at least five of the 27 delegates that have been decided so far with 18 percent of the vote. Again, she lost out on the opportunity to spin those votes into a positive speech on Monday night, and joined the other candidates in quickly scooting off to New Hampshire for the next round.

And as for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, well, he declared victory Monday night despite the current caucus count showing him tied with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Another 30 percent of results are still missing, and they could tip the scales in truly any direction.