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What to watch from the Iowa caucuses

Political director Lisa Desjardins joins Gwen Ifill to break down a few things to watch for in tonight’s caucuses, including key areas for both parties, the kind of voters Democratic candidates are hoping for and an app that streamlines the caucus process.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    As we wait for voters to finally have their say, political director Lisa Desjardins joins us now to share what she's watching for and what you, too, can watch for later tonight.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Right.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    So, Lisa, what's your secret things of list you're watching for?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Got my charts. I got my maps.

    I'm excited in real time to sort out what's going on. And I think this will bring together everything we have heard on the program tonight. Let's start with the Republicans and what to watch for.

    If you look at a map of Iowa, you can see four basic areas where you should watch for Republicans. These are areas where there are a lot of Republicans show up.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Oh, look, we have a map of Iowa.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Look at this. I love television.

    If you look in the upper northwest corner, that is a conservative hotbed. That is an area where you would expect a Ted Cruz needing to do well. Now, if you look closer to Des Moines, then you see areas where it's less conservative, but there are more people. And that's an area where, say, Mitt Romney did well four years ago, because he got out a lot of people, they didn't feel strongly about him, but a lot of them showed up.

    This sort of correlates. If you look at the political divide in the Republican Party, you see this conservative vs. moderate trend in Iowa. There, you see in the brighter red kind of the Mitt Romney or Ron Paul groups. Those are bigger cities.

    And as much as Hari talked about the lack of racial diversity compared to the rest of the country in Iowa, they do share with the rest of the country, Iowans, a common divide in America, which is urban vs. rural. And I think you will see that tonight play out in the Republican Party. It will be close to watch.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    So, you take the same formula and apply it to the Democratic Party, what does that map look like?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    So glad you asked.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Yes.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    I think we have a map for that.

    I think, with Democrats, the key is to watch education centers, higher education centers. Iowa has many of them, if you look at the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa. I'm interested in particular in the Des Moines area. There is a huge community college there. These are all places, Gwen, where Bernie Sanders needs to get out his vote.

    If we see large voter turnout, speaking to Amy's point earlier in Politics Monday, that's a sign that Bernie Sanders is going to have a big night. Now, if these places with young populations do not have large turnout for the Democrat, that's a good sign for Hillary Clinton.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Sorry.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Yes.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Which one of these candidates is exploiting those metrics the most efficiently at this point?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Well, we will see tonight, but I think, in the Democratic side, there is a sense that Hillary Clinton has a more data-driven operation, that she has identified her voters, that she is the one more likely to get them out.

    Now, Bernie Sanders is counting on people coming to show up who he doesn't know. Maybe they're just coming because they believe him in, same kind of voters who surprised everyone in the thousands by showing up at his rallies.

    On the Republican side, Ted Cruz is playing that role of the data wizard. And we will see. He's had a rough last weekend. We will see if that holds up.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Late night tonight, Lisa?

    (LAUGHTER)

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Oh, yes. And I was up for the whole nine yards last time.

    One reason it might be a little faster, Gwen, though, is an app — imagine, technology. Now the Republican and Democratic parties are both using an app so that caucus organizers will hit their phone with the numbers of votes. It even rejects what they enter if it doesn't add up correctly.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Oh.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    So, we may be getting more real-time numbers. Republicans, we expect first. The Democrats, they usually take longer.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Well, you can always spend another night staring at your phone.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Yay.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And that's what we will be doing.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Thanks very much, Lisa. Talk to you later.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Great.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Curious about how the caucuses actually work? Well, we have got you covered. Check out our helpful explainer at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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