What Iowa Democrats want

Image: Bernie Sanders
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters on March 8, 2019, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Copyright Charlie Neibergall AP
Copyright Charlie Neibergall AP
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — Don't obsess over the 2020 horserace polls right now — with 329 days before the Iowa caucuses take place, the Democratic presidential race will drastically change over the next year.

Instead, pay attention to what, exactly, Democratic caucus-goers want when it comes to the issues and the characteristics of their candidates, according to the Des Moines Register/CNN poll that was released over the weekend:

  • 83 percent of likely caucus-goers want a candidate who focuses on harnessing Democrats' positive energy (versus 13 percent who want a candidate who focuses on harnessing Democrats' anger at President Trump);
  • 81 percent hope candidates will spend a lot of time talking about health care;
  • 80 percent hope candidates will spend a lot of time talking about climate change;
  • 67 percent support a candidate who backs — in full — new taxes for those with more than $50 million in assets;
  • 65 percent support a candidate who backs — in full — the Green New Deal;
  • 56 percent would be satisfied with a candidate who wants the United States to be more socialist (though just 15 percent say they would be "very satisfied" with this);
  • 49 percent support a candidate who backs — in full — Medicare for All;
  • 44 percent support a candidate who backs — in full — the legalization of marijuana nationwide;
  • and 36 percent support a candidate who backs — in full — free tuition for college.

So this electorate is very positive, very focused on health care and climate change, and very liberal.

But the liberalism in Iowa also has its limits: 44 percent of likely caucus-goers say Bernie Sanders is too liberal, versus 48 percent who say his political views are about right.

That's compared with 23 percent who say Elizabeth Warren is too liberal, and just 14 percent Joe Biden is too conservative.

Border Battle, Part 43

Just in case you thought President Trump had retreated on the issue that led to the 35-day-old government shutdown…

On Monday, per NBC News, Trump will ask Congress for an additional $8.6 billion to pay for his border wall.

"The demand, part of the administration's budget request for fiscal year 2020, is more than six times what Congress allocated for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years and slightly more than Trump has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year."

But remember, a president's budget proposal is simply his administration's ask - it's up to Congress to see if that money is eventually appropriated.

Tweet of the day

Prince and Persia

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Blackwater founder Erik Prince said he discussed Iran policy in an August 2016 Trump Tower meeting — something he didn't disclose to the House Intelligence Committee in its investigation of interference into the 2016 election:

PRINCE: We were there to talk about Iran policy.

MEDHI HASAN: You were there to talk about Iran policy?

PRINCE: Uh-huh.

MEDHI HASAN: Don't you think that's something important to disclose to the House Intelligence Committee while you're under oath?


MEDHI HASAN: You didn't. We just went through the testimony. There's no mention of the Trump Tower meeting August 2016. Why not?

ERIK PRINCE: I don't know if they got the transcript wrong.

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff said Prince isn't telling the truth about the transcript.


"There was nothing wrong with the reporter who transcribed his testimony. He did not disclose that meeting to our committee," Schiff said. "And in fact, as you can see from the published transcript of his interview, he was asked what kind of role he played, if any, in the campaign, and he said he had no role apart from on his own submitting written papers, hanging a yard sign, or making a contribution."

More Schiff: "So his … interview certainly looks inconsistent with his testimony. Bob Mueller has that testimony already. And Bob Mueller will have to make the decision about whether that rises to a level of deliberate falsehood."

2020 Vision: Buttigieg blasts Pence for cheerleading "the porn-star presidency"

In a town hall on CNN last night, 2020 Dem Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., knocked fellow Hoosier Mike Pence when asked who would be a better president, Trump or Pence?

"How could somebody who , you know, his interpretation of scripture is pretty different from mine to begin with. … But even if you buy into that, how could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn-star presidency? Is that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don't know. I don't know."

On the trail today

Buttigieg, fresh off that town hall last night, stumps in Portsmouth, N.H.


Data Download: The number of the day is … 43 percent and 31 percent.

Those are the shares of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers in the new Des Moines Register/CNN poll who say that Bernie Sanders (43 percent) and Joe Biden (31 percent) have seen their "time pass" and should make room for a new generation of leaders.

A majority — 54 percent — say that Sanders "has pushed the party in a good direction," but it's still noteworthy that nearly four-in-10 express hesitation that he's in the race at all.

The poll found more enthusiasm for Biden, with nearly two-thirds of Democratic caucus-goers saying that they want to see Biden in the race.

The Lid: Who's afraid of Joe Biden?

Don't miss our pod from Friday, when one of us looked at how Joe Biden's anticipated entry in the 2020 race has cleared the Dem field - and how it hasn't.

ICYMI: Beto's decision could come soon

Beto O'Rourke's decision could come as early as this week.


A former aide to Kirsten Gillibrand resigned in protest over the handling of a sexual harassment complaint.

Forty percent of registered Republicans in Iowa want a GOP challenger to Trump.

Tucker Carlson isn't apologizing for past comments about women, statutory rape and underage marriage.

The Supreme Court is going to hear an interesting freedom of speech case involving a four-letter word.

And don't miss today's other news….


Trump agenda: Donald and Bibi

Trump's partnership with Netanhayu is as strong as ever — but is it coming to an end amid the prime minister's political woes?

Trump reportedly told RNC donors that "the Democrats hate Jewish people."

Here's more on Trump's budget request for wall money.

Adam Schiff told one of us(!) that it would be a mistake for Robert Mueller not to get in-person testimony from Donald Trump.

Dem agenda: What Ilhan Omar's constituents are saying

Rep. Ilhan Omar's constituents aren't all as outraged about her comments about Israel as others around the country.


Nancy Pelosi is still struggling to unify Democrats after the Omar controversy.

Liz Cheney says that Democrats are "enabling" anti-Semitism.

Elijah Cummings is seeking testimony from two more Trump attorneys about the Cohen payments.

2020: Looking at Trump's operation

The Washington Post has a deep dive on Trump's 2020 operation.

Democrats in Texas this weekend have their eyes on a statewide win in 2020.


Many of Bill de Blasio's allies are … not really on board for a 2020 presidential run.

Bernie Sanders' campaign will be based in both DC and Vermont.

Democratic presidential hopefuls are trying to gain some ground in the country's rural areas.

Tulsi Gabbard won't say if Assad is a war criminal.

Julian Castro isn't ruling out direct reparations payments.

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