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Live Blog: An end in sight for caucus chaos in Iowa

Two of our reporters had front-row seats to all the action in Des Moines on Monday night as the chaos unfolded.

The campaigns to be chosen as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee are well underway across the country, and on Monday night, Iowans selected who they want to see on the ballot come November. 

They're the first to do so across the country, in a state that is often seen as a bellwether for the rest of the primary election cycle.

How does the Iowa Caucus work?

We sent a team of reporters and photojournalists to cover the major political moments in the state's caucuses from a Texan point of view. 

How will the events in Iowa affect us here in Texas? And just what does it look like amidst the cornfields? 

Y'all-itics cohosts Jason Whitely and Jason Wheeler led us on a whirlwind tour across the state to find out, and were right in the midst of the drama as the results didn't come back as quickly as expected.

Check back here for regular updates. 

________________________________

Tuesday

11:45 a.m.: An end could finally be in sight. Well, maybe. Democratic Party officials in Iowa are planning to release a majority of the delayed caucus results by 4 p.m. today, The Associated Press reports. 

Party officials in Iowa told the presidential campaigns the news this morning following the mass confusion Monday night that led to a no-results caucus day. 

The candidates, likely feeling frustrated, have gone on ahead to next-up New Hampshire to continue campaigning for the nomination. 

President Donald Trump, a Republican, has now mocked the candidates and the party's inability to report the results on Twitter, a talking point likely to be repeated by many pundits in the coming days. 

RELATED: At least half of Iowa caucus results expected by day's end, Dems say

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

5:45 a.m.: In an early morning conference call, Democratic state party chair Troy Price insisted there was no hack or intrusion after a widespread "reporting issue" that left the country wondering which Democrat came out on top in Iowa.

He said that the problem was with getting the information to the party to tabulate and that they were validating their data with every piece of paper.

The problem appeared centered around a mobile app that organizers didn't get to test until hours before voting began.

RELATED: Iowa caucus results won't be out until later Tuesday after reporting delay

It is still unclear when those results will be released, but many of the campaigns had expressed frustration and even disbelief at the delays late Monday.

RELATED: Biden campaign demands answers after reporting 'failures' at Iowa caucus

RELATED: Warren campaign calls Iowa caucus results delay a 'mess'

Candidates were forced to give speeches Monday night that did not address whether they won or lost officially, which analysts argue could be a good thing for some and a bad thing for others. 

RELATED: Pete Buttigieg declares victory in Iowa caucuses despite lack of results

RELATED: Amy Klobuchar 'feeling good' in Iowa amid caucus result delays

2:00 a.m. — WhitelyElection 2020 is off to a wild start. The Iowa Democratic Party couldn’t report an accurate count of vote totals on caucus night. So, disappointed Democrats boarded planes and flew to New Hampshire without knowing who won this famed first contest. 

The screwup raises the question of whether the caucuses matter anymore. We were witness to all the confusion firsthand and stayed up late to publish an episode of Y'all-itics on all the mayhem. 

We also poured a pint with Rick Klein, ABC News’ political director, to talk about what happens next for the candidates, who will survive until Super Tuesday and about the billionaire who is poised to jump in just as Texans have their say. 

And, before all the craziness began, we took a quick drive up northbound I-35 to Dallas County. Dallas County, Iowa, that is, which is where one Democratic party official says he might have to vote for the candidate he calls the ‘Democrat Trump.'

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Play, or Apple Podcasts

Monday

10:36 p.m. — Wheeler: Getting ready for Bernie Sanders to take the stage and address supporters as results in Iowa trickle in ever so slowly after the party had apparent major problems with results reporting. 

Told Bernie will likely speak within 5 mins. Will stream on Facebook Live @jasonwheelertv.

Watch the livestream here.

RELATED: Sanders campaign releases internal Iowa caucus count amid official results delay

Credit: Jason Wheeler, WFAA

10:31 p.m. — Whitely: A statement from the Iowa Democratic Party communications director Mandy McClure says that they have found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results:

"We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."

8:51 p.m. — Wheeler: Is this app working? Iowa is using a new app system this year to report caucus results. It seems to be slow going so far. Some early results have appeared good for the frontrunner here, Bernie Sanders. No sign of him yet at his Des Moines HQ. So far the place is just crawling with media. 

RELATED: Democrats blame 'quality checks' on late Iowa caucus results

Credit: Jason Wheeler, WFAA
Media members waiting on Bernie Sanders in Iowa.

Interesting though, as we wait for Iowa to vote, Sanders is already focused very much on the upcoming State of the Union and next week's New Hampshire Primary. This from his campaign:

Credit: Screenshot

6:29 p.m. — Whitely: In Des Moines tonight, Iowans are lining up to caucus. This site is inside the Field House at Drake University.

Credit: Jason Whitely, WFAA

In 2016, 485 caucused here. Tonight, they’re expecting up to 700. The university hosted a smaller caucus earlier this afternoon for Iowans who can’t attend tonight. In that caucus, 71 people participated and Bernie Sanders won the most votes and was awarded five delegates. Elizabeth Warren was second and got two delegates. No other candidate was viable.

6.19 p.m. — Wheeler: Downtime as we wait a little while longer for the caucuses to begin. Grabbing some dinner at a place that everyone has been telling me to check out. And it's fitting, since I got up at 5 a.m. to do live shots for the morning show and haven't gone to sleep since, with many hours left to go. 

We're at Zombie Burger in Des Moines. And the menu and decor stay very true to the theme. 

My favorite sign on the wall here:

Credit: Jason Wheeler

And the caucus themed specials they've offered this week:

Credit: Jason Wheeler, WFAA

5:15 p.m. — Whitely: The caucuses begin at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Any resident participating must be in line by 7:00 p.m. or they cannot take part. This process is different from the primaries that most states are used to.

Anyone can observe the caucus process. Caucuses have chairmen or women who run each event. Many of these are smaller, intimate settings, and some are even held at houses.

RELATED: Texas Republicans campaigning in Iowa for President Trump ahead of caucuses

Observers can obviously watch, but they cannot become involved in discussions once the caucus is called to order.

There’s a caucus site at a Fairfield Inn and Suites in Ankeny, Iowa and even one at the field house at Drake University. With the Democratic race likely to be a four-way battle tonight, it is a good bet that each caucus will generate a lively conversation.

5:00 p.m.: Dr. Jill Biden could be seen inspecting the Des Moines ballroom where her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, will address supporters during the Iowa Caucuses.

It's still a toss-up between the four top candidates in the state-- Warren, Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg-- but getting the top spot isn't the only way to come out ahead, some supporters say.

Read more about it here: What does a win look like in Iowa? For Warren, it doesn't have to be a No. 1 spot, Castro says

4:15 p.m. — Wheeler: Bernie Sanders' campaign is hoping for a big turnout tonight. They've also planned for a big media presence. 

Below is the media room for Sanders at the Holiday Inn that is right next to the Des Moines airport. That's critical. He was campaigning in town over the weekend, flew back to Washington for impeachment proceedings, and will return here in time for the vote tonight.

Credit: WFAA

The troublesome kids always sit in the back. Photojournalist Martin Doporto is on the right that last row editing our 5 p.m. story on three college students from Texas who will get to be a part of a caucus tonight since they attend Drake University in Des Moines. This will be their first time ever voting. 

RELATED: Caucusing for the first time: Three Texas students join Iowa's primary process

Also in tonight's story, a Houston guy who is sort of crashing the caucus. He can't vote, but he plans to get in as an observer so he can 'persuade' caucus-goers to support his candidate. 

They won't want to hear this at Bernie's camp, but none of the four people in our story mentioned him among their choices tonight.

3:45 p.m. — Whitely: Just arrived at former Vice President Joe Biden's watch party in Des Moines. 

Three rows of the world’s news media are here to see how well Biden does tonight. Media members from places as far aways as France are here to see how the caucuses pan out.

Biden staffers are still preparing the room and have asked us not to take any pictures or do any live shots from the room until 5:00 p.m. 

Across town, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are opening their doors to journalists right now. Supporters of each candidate will be allowed in shortly. But, it’s likely that most people will not arrive to see their candidates until after they caucus at 7:00 p.m.

1:55 p.m. — Whitely: U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, made a last minute push for Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Des Moines this afternoon. Castro told WFAA that the caucus results tonight will likely be close, and if Warren finishes in the top three, he would consider it a win. 

Credit: WFAA

The Texas congressman spoke at a house in the Sherman Hills neighborhood on the west side of Des Moines. Castro’s twin brother, former San Antonio Mayor and U.S. HUD Secretary, Julian Castro spent the morning in eastern Iowa speaking with Warren supporters before they canvassed today.

12:20 p.m. — Wheeler: We're at Drake University in Des Moines, and we want to know how seriously do these Iowans take their politics?

RELATED: From Egypt to Italy, London and Amsterdam, Iowans abroad caucusing in Paris

And we met 23-year-old Shea Seiff as she was going over 20 pages of instructions to help explain the rules to caucus-goers tonight.

Credit: WFAA
Shea Seiff, 23, goes over 20 pages of instructions to help explain the rules to caucus-goers in Des Moines, Iowa on Feb. 3, 2020.

After driving around the state and listening to different candidates, she just decided last night (so she's not reflected in any polls) to caucus for Warren tonight. But that's gonna be her second choice. 

Her initial vote will be a symbolic one for Cory Booker, even though he's no longer in the race. She is a former field organizer for Booker here. 

Credit: WFAA

And she says that tattoo on her left arm that says "We Rise" was written by Booker-- she had the tattoo done in his exact handwriting.

11:50 a.m. — Whitely: Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, is campaigning in eastern Iowa for Senator Elizabeth Warren. 

RELATED: Julián Castro endorses Elizabeth Warren

Castro is at the University of Northern Iowa right now to rally her supporters before they go knock on doors this afternoon. Castro will be in Des Moines this afternoon for a similar event.

10:50 a.m. — Whitely: Republicans have come to crash the Democratic Party in Iowa. President Trump sent 50 high-profile surrogates to make appearances on his behalf, even though Trump is not in contention tonight. 

Texas Lt. Gov.Dan Patrick is among the Trump supporters here. Patrick told WFAA that the purpose of the surrogates is to speak to Iowans at caucus sites tonight and reinforce the promises that President Trump has kept since being elected. 

Trump won Iowa four years ago. Republicans want to win it again in November. But it’s not a sure thing. Iowa went for Obama for eight years before that.

But for now, Democrats are focused on tonight's caucuses.

9:40 a.m. — Whitely: It is an unusually quiet morning on Caucus Day in Iowa. Three of the four major candidates had to fly back to Washington, D.C. for an impeachment hearing this morning. 

RELATED: Impeachment trial heads to historic end in frenetic week

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren left Iowa last night for D.C. They’ll fly back to Iowa when the impeachment hearing ends about 2:00 p.m. 

Vice President Joe Biden has no events on before his watch party tonight at Drake University. Andrew Yang is traveling the state trying to encourage Iowans to caucus for him tonight. Tom Steyer is knocking on doors this morning in Des Moines and speaking with reporters after lunch. 

5:50 a.m. — Wheeler: We're standing outside Centennial Elementary School in Altoona, Iowa (on the outskirts of Des Moines) on a frigid morning— at least by North Texas standards— the locals remind me of the below-zero temps from the polar vortex last year, so it's all relative. 

Credit: WFAA

There are almost 1,700 precincts in Iowa, each with its own caucus, and this school is the site of just one of those many caucuses. At 7 p.m. tonight, a mere 13 hours from now, Democrats here will have the first say in who should be the nominee to try and prevent President Trump from getting a second term.

What they decide could likely affect who Texans are able to choose from on Super Tuesday, which is now exactly one month away. 

________________________________

Sunday

9:06 p.m. — Whitely: U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, had to buy a big winter coat for his first-ever trip to Iowa. Congressman Veasey is crisscrossing the state campaigning for former Vice President Joe Biden. 

We spent some time with him in Ames as he went door-to-door speaking with caucus-goers. 

And there’s another Texas Democrat here, as well. Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary and presidential candidate Julián Castro (from San Antonio) returned to the state this weekend to campaign for Elizabeth Warren. 

Polls showed Bernie Sanders leading the Iowa Caucus recently. The big question political analysts are asking is which candidate comes in second place tomorrow night.

8-something p.m. — Wheeler: Watched a few minutes of the Super Bowl with a Chiefs fan from Houston. He came to Iowa not to watch the game, but to watch the caucuses! He met three candidates today, even though he can't technically caucus tomorrow. Other than that, Des Moines has been kind of a ghost town tonight. Tomorrow is their version of the Super Bowl.

5:21 p.m. — Wheeler: Saw some people fishing in the Des Moines River. Streets have been pretty empty. Some restaurants are closing early because of the Super Bowl. But everyone we've run into says tomorrow is gonna be game on. 

"Democracy like you've never seen it," is what they're telling this journalist covering the caucus for the first time. I have seen a lot of media here. 

Interestingly, the rental car agent at the airport says she has seen a ton of U.S. media...that was expected. But she has been blown away by how many crews from Europe and Canada have flown in to cover the caucuses. 

The world is watching Iowa. Tomorrow. They're watching Miami today.

Credit: Jason Wheeler

4:35 p.m.— Whitely: Iowa is going to thin out tonight after the Super Bowl. Yes, even the big game is a political event as candidates host Super Bowl parties (see Wheeler's Instagram story for the deal with Bernie's), but immediately after the game, the campaign trail will feel a bit emptier.

U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar will all be traveling from Iowa back to Washington, D.C. on Sunday night as President Donald Trump's impeachment trial continues Monday. 

3:35 p.m.— Wheeler: We're on the ground now in Iowa and about to do an interview with Rick Klein, the political director for ABC News, for our next episode of Y'all-itics. One of the topics is whether or not Iowa should go first in the primary season, since it isn't as diverse as a place like Texas. 

RELATED: Is it time for another state besides Iowa to vote first?

Ironically, we're doing the interview at a beer hall that we're told has the largest selection of German beers in the world-- Hessen Haus. 

Credit: WFAA
A glass of beer alongside an empty boot "stein" at Hessen Haus in Des Moines, Iowa, ahead of the 2020 caucuses on Feb. 2, 2020.

We opted not to drink from the boot, though, which is 64 ounces. 

And we just had a quick lunch at an Asian-inspired pizza joint.  

3:25 p.m.— Whitely: Iowa is known for its corn fields and its more than 23 million pigs. What I didn’t expect this place to have was decent street tacos. 

Iowa’s taco game is on. And I’m not talking about fresh carnitas either. The taco trucks we’ve found are legit.

We’ve discovered good street tacos in a green school bus, an old yellow RV, and a retired milk truck. And we’re just getting started.

If you know the Des Moines taco scene, email me where I should go: jwhitely@wfaa.com

2:45 p.m.— Whitely: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is in Iowa for tomorrow night’s caucus. The Trump campaign asked Patrick, along with former U.S. Energy Secretary and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Congressman Kevin Brady to be in Iowa for the caucus. 

Credit: WFAA
Jason Whitely interviews Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick while in Iowa ahead of the 2020 caucuses on Feb. 2, 2020.

The purpose of their visit is to shore up the president’s support for November. Trump won Iowa in 2016. Patrick says the president is intent on winning it again. Tonight and tomorrow, the Texans, along with dozens of other high-profile Trump supporters, will be at caucus sites across the state to connect with voters.

12:35 p.m.— Whitely: On my way to interview an elected official in West Des Moines, and we ran across one of the coolest political swag stores I’ve seen. 

Credit: Jason Whitely/WFAA

It’s called RAYGUN — it's in Des Moines’ East Village— and all the Democratic presidential candidates have been here to get a caucus T-shirt... all except Biden, that is. 

RAYGUN is known for its witty shirts and stickers. One says: “Just Killing Time Until I Move To Austin.” Beto shirts are on the sale rack. 

Check my Facebook or Instagram for pictures of all the merch (I'll have them posted shortly). 

Credit: WFAA

11:15 a.m.— Whitely: Dozens of high-profile supporters of President Trump are starting to arrive in Iowa. 

Democrats are the ones in contention tomorrow night at caucus sites across the state, but President Trump’s campaign is flooding Iowa with people who can make appearances for the president and attend public events. 

Several high-profile Texans are on their way here this afternoon, including former U.S. Energy Secretary and Texas governor Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from The Woodlands.

Donald Trump, Jr., Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and others will also be here. The Trump campaign is crashing the Dem party here.

10:15 a.m.-- Whitely: Democratic presidential candidates are in their final push to get Iowans support. There are 35 campaign events scheduled across this state on Sunday. 

Buttigieg and Warren are starting their day with rallies this morning on opposite sides of Iowa, and Bernie is beginning with a meet-and-greet. 

Amy Klobuchar is at a restaurant in Cedar Rapids, while Joe Biden is at a university in Dubuque to start their Sundays. Iowans will caucus on Monday night, and right now, Bernie and Biden lead the most recent polls.

10 a.m.: Jason Wheeler is at DFW Airport and soon will board a plane to Iowa. He'll join Jason Whitely, along with photographers Taylor Lumsden and Martin Doporto to cover as much ground as they can across the state and the election in the next 48 hours. 

9 a.m.: Jason Whitely hosted Inside Texas Politics from in front of Iowa's state capitol building. He spoke with one of Mike Bloomberg's campaign managers about what the race in Iowa means for their campaign, as well as with Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune about why one little race in Texas had a big impact on the national stage.

See it here

________________________________

Friday

10 p.m.: Jason Whitely spoke to Domingo Garcia, the national president for LULAC, about diversity in Iowa. They also discussed whether it's time for a different state, other than Iowa to vote first. Read more here. 

________________________________

Thursday

In Iowa Thursday night, Pete Buttigieg made the case to his supporters that it’s time for a younger generation of Democrats to take the lead in the party. Read more here.

12 p.m.: Jason Whitely is officially on his way to Iowa, y'all. We'll soon begin to have updates from him and his team once they land.

You can follow his journey on his Twitter and Instagram accounts @jasonwhitely.

Tegna staff and The Associated Press contributed to some of these reports.