5 Days Until the New Hampshire Primary
After so much waiting, waiting, waiting, it's finally Iowa Caucus Day.
But for anxious campaigns, journalists and political junkies, the day has only brought more waiting, waiting and waiting.
The Iowa Democratic and Republican caucuses really do not begin until 8:00 pm ET tonight so today allowed for plenty of time to discuss who will win, place and show and to hit refresh on the ABC News' Political Radar (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/) and monitor all of the candidates as they did one last event, meet and greet, and rally, denied striking any deals, or pushed back against rumors of their impending departure from the race.
Some nuts and bolts of the caucuses…
Iowa Democrats will gather in 1,781 precincts:
--Call to order: 7:10 pm – 7:30 pm ET (Anyone in line by 8:00 pm ET allowed to participate).
--Presidential preference begins at 8:00 pm ET
--Results could begin to come in as early as 8:15-8:30 pm ET (more likely: 8:30 pm ET)
--Democratic outcome will likely be known at 10:00 pm ET.
Iowa Republicans will gather in 1,781 precincts:
--8:00 pm ET: Iowa Republican Caucuses get underway
--8:30 pm ET: Precincts begin reporting
--8:45 pm ET: Bulk of precincts report
--9:00 pm ET: Outcome of Iowa Republican Caucuses will be known.
Things to look for tonight: 1. Second choices With all due respect to Madonna, second best may be enough for one of the Democratic frontrunners looking to leap frog an opponent in the standings.
ABC News' Teddy Davis reports that the main difference between the Iowa Democratic Caucuses and the Iowa Republican Caucuses is that the Democrats require candidates in the vast majority of precincts to reach a minimum 15 percent level of support in order to qualify for any delegates. One byproduct of the viability requirement is that it pays to be the second-choice candidate of those rivals who do not reach viability.
So today the stories were flying about possible deals reached between campaigns. The New York Times has an Obama/Richardson deal, the Washington Post has an Obama/Biden deal. No campaign has acknowledged any such deals.
2. Who drops out -- if anybody -- and who they decide to support Fred Thompson has spent some time over the last 24 hours beating back rumors of his impending and imminent departure from the race. But even as his campaign is saying that he has no plans to get out, his language on the trail doesn't seem to reflect an "In it to win it" attitude.
When asked today if it's "on to New Hampshire" regardless of the Iowa results, Thompson said that that some of the candidates "may get shellacked."
"We've got to recognize the signals that we're given and respond accordingly. I expect a strong win. We'll see."
Stay tuned to ABC News throughout the evening for special reports with Charlie Gibson as caucus results become known. Wrap up your night with a special one-hour edition of Nightline with Gibson and Terry Moran from Iowa.
And of course, you can't hit refresh enough at ABCNews.com and the Political Radar LINK
ABC News' senior political editor Rick Klein will be live blogging the caucuses from Des Moines here.