Is Iowa a make-or-break state for Dems? 'The short answer is no': Nate Silver

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver analyzes the significance of winning Iowa for the 2020 Democratic race.
3:01 | 08/18/19

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Transcript for Is Iowa a make-or-break state for Dems? 'The short answer is no': Nate Silver
If president trump is the same as candidate trump with foreign leaders can you imagine -- I think even better. That was the scene four years ago this weekend, then-candidate Donald Trump drawing quite the crowd at the Iowa state fair where we took a ride on his helicopter. You don't think this is a little much? No. It's very trump, right? Yeah. Very trump indeed. This year's Iowa state fair wraps up today. But the 2020 field will be back in full force on Wednesday when 19 candidates speak at a labor convention in Iowa. Our colleagues at fivethirtyeight crunched the numbers and found that through the end of July the major candidates spent a combine 336 days campaigns in Iowa, compared to 216 in New Hampshire and 132 days in South Carolina. But just how important is Iowa for winning this year's democratic nomination? Is Iowa a make or break state? We asked Nate silver, do you buy that? So, of course, Iowa gets a lot of attention, it's the first state to vote and historically has a pretty good track record at picking democratic winners. The past democratic four nominees, Clinton, Obama, John Kerry, Al gore, all won the hawk aye state. Bill Clinton in 1992 where a Democrat didn't win Iowa. There are a few things that give me pause and make me wonder if Iowa will become less predictive than it was once. Clinton barely won Iowa in 2016. It was basically a tie with Bernie Sanders. First, the democratic electorate is becoming more diverse and Iowa isn't really. We estimated 40% of voters in democratic primary and caucus voters were of color. 92% were white. Next, Democrats are moving away from caucuses. In 2004, 15 states held caucuses but we might be down to as few as two this year, might just be Iowa and Nevada. They tend to reward liberal candidates with active organizations like Bernie Sanders. With fewer caucuses now that could make Iowa more of a misleading indicator. Finally, the news cycle is different now. It moves a lot faster. So the so-called bounce the candidates gets from Iowa doesn't last as long. Candidates' strength, mayor Pete buttigieg, he's a midwestern, his supporters are mostly white. If he doesn't do well in Iowa it's hard to see him winning anywhere. Do I buy Iowa is make or break state for Democrats? The short answer is, no. It's important. But it's that representative of the overall electorate to be in that make or break category. Especially for a Joe Biden or a kamala Harris whose supporters are more diverse. Okay, got it. Our thanks to Nate for that. The roundtable is up next. We're back in just 60 seconds. Next.

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

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