Iowa caucuses give Democratic candidates first test of voter appeal: Part 1

"Nightline" spoke to voters as Democratic presidential hopefuls spent the last 72 hours making their final pitches across the state.
11:27 | 02/04/20

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Transcript for Iowa caucuses give Democratic candidates first test of voter appeal: Part 1
Tonight all eyes on the hawkeye state, home to the much-anticipated Iowa caucus. But tonight the unprecedented delay. No projections of a winner yet. The Iowa democratic party saying the results are, quote, postponed due to quality checks, add hag they found inconsistencies in the reporting. We now go straight to ABC's political director Rick Klein. Rick, what are you learning tonight? Reporter: Byron, this is a complete meltdown of the voting process and of the reporting these are caucuses. A little different than regular elections. People gather in these rooms, then those results get tabulated in the rooms and then they get sent back to party headquarters. 1600 of these locations. That's where the problems started. The party had an app it had never used before. That didn't work in all cases. And what happened was some of the information wasn't getting sent or the party was noticing inconsistencies in that information. Then some of these precinct people would try to call, call them up. They got busy signals. They weren't able to get they were put on hold. The bottom line is even now we have no results in from the Iowa democratic party on these first in the nation nominating contests. It has cast a shadow over the kickoff to this election season for Democrats. And it's possible that we never really know what the results in Iowa -- already the Biden campaign is out with a statement saying they may not trust the results, they want to review that. We are delayed essentially indefinitely and whoever wins wa Iowa will have a lot of the potential bump taken away from them because of what is essentially a disaster in planning and execution. Thank you so much. This delay not stopping the candidates stepping forward from the waiting game to rally their supporters. Take a listen. So we don't know all the results. But we know by the time it's all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation. Let me begin by stating that I imagine, have a strong feeling that at some point the results will be announced. And when those results are announced I have a good feeling we're going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa. So it's on to New Hampshire. Nevada. South Carolina. And well beyond. We're in this for the long haul. Tomorrow Donald Trump will make a speech about the state of the union. But I have a message for every our union is stronger than Donald Trump. We now go to ABC's whit Johnson who was at the senator Bernie Sanders watch party. Reporter: Byron, there is plenty of excitement here at Bernie Sanders headquarters but also some growing anxiety within the campaign itself. With a delay in the results tonight. Still the senator did walk out before a loud and passionate crowd here in Des Moines. He was joined by his wife, Jane. His son and his grandkids. And he said to the crowd when those results are announced I have a good feeling that we're going to be doing very, very well. He also got a big report from the crowd when he said the first state in the country has voted, today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. But for now they're off to new Hampshire and feeling good despite not having the results, feeling good about what happened here tonight. Byron? Our thanks to whit. Tonight a year's worth of tireless canvassing culminating in the Iowa caucus. My co-anchor juju Cheng on the ground in the final 72 hours of the state as candidates crisscross the state with their final pitch in this crucial kickoff to the race for the white house. Byron, tonight is the culmination of a year's worth of canvassing Iowa on behalf of the candidates and now the voters have spoken. We were on the ground for the final 72 hours as the candidates gave their final pitch in this crucial kickoff in the race for the white house. The hawkeye state, known for its farms, its pigs, and in case you hadn't heard its ability to determine the next democratic Are you ready for caucus night? It all begins in Iowa. This is our moment. This is where all the action is. Reporter: For over a year democratic presidential hopefuls have canvassed this state, eating anything that could be fried, spending over $71 million on ads. And it's all come Cowan down to Welcome to Iowa. Reporter: The Iowa caucus. Where the battle for who takes on Donald Trump begins. If you don't think a woman can beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day. Reporter: It's a fight for the heart and soul of the party. Who has the best chance to shape what the party stands for? A moderate like Joe Biden? We don't have time to figure out what your foreign policy is. You don't have time to build relationships. You've got to have them immediately with world leaders. Reporter: Pete buttigieg? Sometimes you get a message that we've got to choose between either a revolution or the status quo. I think there's another way. And that is to harness the American majority of Democrats, yes, but also independents and quite a lot of future former Republicans. Reporter: Or the Progressives. Elizabeth Warren. We want to save our democracy. We want to save our country. It's going to take big structural change. And I've got a plan for that. Reporter: And Bernie Sanders. Health care is a human right, not a privilege. We will pass a medicare for all single payer program. Reporter: Woo iowans cast their first votes tonight and we're here inside a caucus outside a precinct in des Moines. You're literally going to caulk with us these people tonight. Yes. I'm going to ask them why they want my vote. Reporter: Here nominees are selected through a complicated caucus system one of only six states to do so. I am truly undecided. Why should I join team Waren? Reporter: Voters move around the room, some trying to be convinced. Eventually joining their preferred candidate's cluster. Once everyone has chosen, caucus leaders take count. The caucus is under way behind me. Whichever candidate doesn't get 15% in the first rally their supporters have to get people to come to their camp or go to someone else's. Reporter: Chad cammond has been caucusing for 20 years. If they find out you're undecided you become very popular. You're the pretty girl at the dance. You are aggressively undecided. Yes, I am. Who are your top five? They would be Warren, buttigieg, klobuchar, Biden, and yang. But not Sanders? Not Sanders. Why? I love his passion. I love his ideals. But if you want to run as a Democrat then you should be a Democrat. Reporter: Voters whose candidates get less than 15% become free agents. And in the next phase, round 1 of re-alignment, they can choose to caucus with an already viable candidate, try to attract other free agents to their candidate, or stop caucusing. So the sense of community. I like seeing everyone come out. Reporter: It might be the first state to vote, but some critics say Iowa isn't representative of the whole country. When it comes to adults 18 and up Iowa is almost 92% white. It can be predictive. Since 1976 Iowa has picked a presidential nominee nine times. Three went on to the presidency. High stakes for all the candidates, who need a strong start here, altogether hosting nearly 2,400 events. Senator Amy klobuchar's the only candidate to visit all 99 counties in the state. Reporter: Our team has been spread out across the state for the past 72 hours as Iowa gears up to vote. This is no time to take the risk of confronting a fundamentally new challenge by falling back on the familiar. Let's have the courage to move forward. After we win this thing and then we pass the freedom dividend the rest of the world will look up and say America just passed us? It's not a trump rally. Reporter: We're with former vice president Joe Biden. We can't turn four years of Donald Trump into ab aberration, historical aberration. He with need you, we need you, we need you. In the frenzied final hours vice president Biden and his wife Jill are here to remind Iowa voters of his electability, his strong suit. Reporter: But even here on the eve of the caucus it's not here to find undecided voters. We met Samantha Burnham, a freshman at Arizona state who flew home to Iowa for her first caucus. You shall undecided. I am. Despite the Biden sign. Despite the Biden sign. Reporter: Who's your first choice? Andrew yang. Sxrrpt who have you seen while you've been shopping? Elizabeth Warren, Pete buttigieg, and now I'm at Biden. Reporter: So we just left the Joe Biden event, high energy, packed but small gymnasium, and we're headed to Amy klobuchar's super bowl watch party. We caught klobuchar op her campaign bus right after her third stop of the day. Hello. Hi, senator. How are you? Reporter: Which she juggled just before heading back to D.C. For the impeachment hearings. I'm a mom. I can do two things at once. So I just keep going back and forth. We are a real grassroots campaign. I'm someone who gets things done, and I bring the receipts to this race. I am the only one on the debate stages who's consistently led a ticket and won in red and purple areas. Reporter: Along with klobuchar three other presidential candidates are U.S. Senators, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet. Impeachment throwing a wrench in their campaigning. As soon as the trial went into recess Friday evening the senators went right back into campaign mode, high-tailing it back to Iowa. If anybody listened to the impeachment trial over the last week, you really get the very strong feeling that this is a president and an administration that believes they are above the law. It is clear in the constitution, no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States. Reporter: The field started out historically large. At one point almost 30 people were running to be the democratic nominee. The pool, the most diverse in history. Filled with women, people of color, and a gay married man. Now the field has whittled down. Tonight Iowa voters chose between a variety of candidates. Next it's on to New Hampshire. ABC news will host a democratic debate this Friday. These seven candidates will be on the stage. Not on the stage? Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, who remains a wild card, putting all his resources in for super Tuesday, when 14 states will vote. He spent over $300 million in ads and some national polling shows him in several voters' top five. But this is just the beginning of the contest. And if we've learned anything from 2016, what happens next is anyone's guess. And when we return, we head back to ABC news headquarters in New York and my co-anchor Byron Pitts, who will break down tonight's results with a powerhouse political team. Stay with us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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