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February 5, 2020

Buttigieg leads in Iowa caucus where health care was a top issue for voters

Daily Briefing

    As of Wednesday morning, the New York Times reports that former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is leading the Democratic Iowa caucus with 26.8% of the vote and 71% of precincts reporting—and entrance polls suggest health care was a key issue for caucusgoers this year.

    Where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on health policy

    Democratic Iowa caucus results delayed

    The Democratic Iowa caucuses took place on Monday but, according to Vox, a combination of human and technical errors have caused reporting delays with the results. According to Vox, the app that precincts were supposed to use to report their results experienced technical issues, a backup phone line had inadequate staffing to handle callers reporting results, and new rules in the types of results each precinct must report all contributed to the delays.

    As of 12:01 AM EST on Wednesday, 71% of precincts were reporting, according to the Times, with:

    • Buttigieg in the lead with 26.8% of the vote;
    • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in second with 25.2%;
    • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in third with 18.4% of the vote;
    • Former Vice President Joe Biden in fourth with 15.4%; and
    • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in fifth with 12.6% of the vote.

    The rest of the 14 Democratic candidates on Monday's ballot each received about 1% of the vote or less. Notably, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—a late entrant into the race—as well as Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); former Rep. John Delaney (D- Md.), who ended his campaign before Monday's caucuses; and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) each received 0% of the vote as of Wednesday morning.

    Iowa voters cited health care as the most important issue affecting their votes

    Many Iowa Democratic caucusgoers ranked health care as their most important issue to consider when voting for a Democratic presidential candidate in the primary election, according to entrance and exit polls taken throughout the state on Monday.

    Research has shown health care is a top issue among voters, and experts predicted that would hold true for Monday's Iowa caucuses, particularly as Democratic candidates' presidential campaigns have elevated so-called "Medicare-for-All" proposals to the top of voters' minds.

    Entrance and exit polls conducted Monday at various polling places for Iowa's caucuses proved experts right. According to Axios' "Vitals," entrance polls conducted by AP Votecast, the National Exit Poll, and NBC News found about four in 10 caucusgoers ranked health care as the most important issue affecting their votes. Particularly, the National Exit Poll found two in five Iowa Democratic caucusgoers ranked health care as the most important issue affecting their vote for a Democratic presidential candidate in the primary election, CNN reports.

    The polls also showed a majority of Iowa Democratic caucusgoers said they support transitioning the United States to a single-payer health system. According to the National Exit Poll, about 60% of Democratic respondents at the caucuses said they support eliminating private health insurance and instead implementing a single-payer health care system, while about 38% said they do not support eliminating private insurance, the Washington Post reports.

    In addition, experts noted that there's an ongoing debate in Iowa over the future of the state's Medicaid program, NPR reports. Iowa privatized its Medicaid program in 2016, but experts say there's been disagreement over whether that move has been effective. According to NPR, providers in the state have said the privatization led to them receiving lower payments (Japsen, Forbes, 2/2; Greene et al., NPR, 1/31; Struyk/Sparks, CNN, 2/4; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 2/4; Stein, Washington Post, 2/3; New York Times, accessed 2/5; Prokop [1], Vox, 2/4; Prokop [2], Vox, 2/4).

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