In an unusual turn of events, some Democratic caucus-goers backing "nonviable" candidates in one Iowa precinct have thrown their support behind New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker -- even though he suspended his presidential campaign in early January.
Under the Iowa caucus rules, a candidate is deemed nonviable if they don't hit a 15 percent threshold in the first round. Their supporters are then free to back another candidate in a subsequent round.
But the caucus-goers for a number of candidates who didn’t make the cut in Iowa’s 38th precinct – namely businessman Andrew Yang, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Joe Biden and billionaire Tom Steyer – have apparently deployed the tactic of teaming up for Booker in an attempt to keep delegates away from the viable candidates.
A precinct leader for the nonviable candidates in Precinct 38 – home to Drake University – told Fox News that the strategy to back Booker was decided among the caucus-goers at that precinct alone with the aim of blocking delegates and does not represent a statewide strategy dictated by the campaigns.
From 402 caucus-goers in that precinct, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took home the most votes after the first alignment with 120, followed by former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 100 and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 100.
When it was all over, Warren, Buttigieg and Sanders picked up a few more supporters, while Booker amassed 65. He was able to snag one delegate from the stunt. Warren and Buttigieg walked away with two, while Sanders got one as well.
Monday night’s Iowa caucuses marked the opening salvo of the 2020 presidential primary season with voters packing caucus sites across the state in what is expected to be a strong showing for a crowded Democratic field.
It's too soon to tell what final turnout numbers will be, though some party officials and campaigns were expecting far more people to participate than four years ago, due to Democrats' enthusiasm to replace President Trump in the White House.
About 170,000 turned out in 2016. The high-water mark for the contest was the 2008 Iowa Democratic caucuses, when nearly 240,000 participated and Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.