Who Won the 2016 Iowa Democratic Caucus? How Many Delegates Did They Get?


When Bernie Sanders ran in the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucus, he gained a lot of momentum even though he technically didn’t win, because he came so close to tying Hillary Clinton. Today, candidates are hoping to gain a similar momentum from the Democratic Iowa caucus results. Here’s a look at what happened in 2016.

The 2016 Iowa Caucus Results

In Iowa in 2016, Hillary Clinton got 49.84 percent of the Iowa caucuses compared to Bernie Sanders’ 49.59 percent. It was a very close race. The percentages were percentages of state delegates though, not of votes, Vox explained. Ultimately, Clinton had 700.47 state delegates and Sanders had 696.92. This gave Clinton a projected 23 pledged delegates in the national convention compared to 21 for Sanders.

In 2016, unlike this year, the Democratic Party only shared the delegate percentages and not the actual vote counts. In addition, the caucuses ran later than they are expected to this year, because caucuses were allowed to have multiple rounds of voting rather than just two rounds.

This year we’ll be able to see both the state delegate breakout among candidates and how many people voted for each candidate in the first and second rounds. In a way, that’s kind of like looking at electors versus the popular vote. Only the delegates ultimately count toward how many delegates are sent to the national convention. But the vote breakdown could give you an idea of whether the turnout might have been different if this had been a primary rather than a caucus.

How Things Are Different in 2020

The caucus today for the Democratic party will consist of three parts, according to the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP).

  • Introductory Business, including electing a secretary and chair, hearing a state party chair message, hearing messages from local officials, and sometimes local candidates.
  • Presidential Preference Voting, which includes a second vote to realign non-viable candidates’ voters. This is when delegates to the County Convention are elected.
  • Party Business, which includes electing people to the county central committee and discussing platforms for the county convention.

When the caucuses close, we’ll get three official numbers from the IDP:

  • The results of the first vote (first Presidential Preference)
  • The results of the second and final vote (second Presidential Preference)
  • And the “State Delegate Equivalency” (SDE)

Note that the Iowa Democratic Party does not declare a caucus winner, but simply presents results to the public and the SDE number (which is the number of state delegates allotted per candidate, technically called the State Delegate Equivalency number.) An approximate allocation of national convention delegates will also be reported, the IDP noted.

This year, in order to win the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, a candidate needs a total of 1,991 pledged delegates. A total of 41 pledged national delegates are up for grabs in Iowa, CNN reported. Then there are eight additional unpledged delegates in Iowa, which include five members of the Democratic National Committee and three members of Congress. These unpledged PLEO delegates were previously known in 2016 as superdelegates. Unlike in 2016, they will only be able to vote at the Democratic National Convention if a candidate does not get a majority of votes on the first ballot at the DNC.

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