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Don't Tell Us About Crowds

Lots of interesting details in the entrance poll data. It will likely turn out to point toward if not exactly tell us the eventually result. But here's one thing you can flat out ignore: the endless stream of reporter anecdotes about how they couldn't get inside the caucus venue because it was so packed, how new 'ballots' needed to be printed, extra caucusers being tossed out windows because there's so little room inside. All this stuff is nonsense. Same stuff gets said every time. Just disregard.

Early Meaningless Data

Okay, we're hearing the initial results from the so-called "entrance polls", about how it sounds - similar to exit polls only going in, not going out. The very early analysis suggests positive news for Trump and Clinton. But I wouldn't put a great deal of stock in either.

On the Dem side, people are pointing to the percentage of first time caucus goers and saying the numbers of them are not as high as in 2008. If true, that would suggest but by no means prove a more conventional Democratic turnout and good news for Clinton. Sanders needs to turnout out new and younger voters. Again, unless he doesn't.

And We're Off

We are, of course, in the hints and allegations, wisps of nonsense phase of the evening. Chuck Todd just rattled off some information about the Democratic caucus entrance polls and then proceeded to explain that it was basically meaningless. Thanks. But no, I'm not harshing on Chuck. Live TV is hard in moments like this. We've got live results to the right. We've got our reporters ready to go. Stay with us for all the results, commentary, comedy and more.

What To Look for With the Dems

Unlike the GOP side, which I examined here, there's much less to talk about on the Democratic side, largely because there are in practice only two candidates. Multi-candidate races, particularly unstable ones like the current GOP race, have many potential winners and many different ways for different candidates to win. So, as I noted earlier, Rubio can win with a strong 2nd or even 3rd place showing. None of this applies to Clinton v Sanders: The polls have been very close for a while. So there's no way to win but by winning. And only one of them can do that.

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What To Look For Tonight on the GOP Side

I want to look at both contests tonight in Iowa. Not predictions. I have no idea what will happen. But some things to look for.

First the Republicans.

I'll start with what I believe is a critical bedrock assumption. Democrats really, really want Marco Rubio's campaign to end in the rapid back-to-back of the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary. This is not to say that I think Rubio is a strong candidate or that he would win the presidency. It is to say that I consider him a credible national candidate who could win. Each of the other candidates are in their own way weak national candidates or in some cases close to impossibilities against a national electorate. When Rubio says in debates, which he does again and again, that he's the Republican the Clinton camp doesn't want to face, he's right.

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The Wages of Derp are Derp. Lots of it.

One of the greatest failings in journalism is the way that ideas, theories, nonsensical paranoid fears get 'out there' and then talked about, critiqued and so forth and yet there's no point of stepping back where a considered, knowledgable, even common sense view would say that the entire concept is simply far-fetched, ridiculous or even impossible. There are two examples of that currently roiling the political terrain, albeit for very different reasons.

The first has to do with the purported looming indictment of Hillary Clinton. Over the weekend there was a stir because a New York Times reporter, Peter Baker, told CNN's Sunday morning show that Democrats are "quietly absolutely petrified" of a mid-summer indictment. This 'hot take' was immediately picked by Mike Allen's Politico Playbook. The stage was then set for yet another DC bubble derp freakout. Are Democrats "petrified"? I think that's an overstatement. But are some nervous? I have no doubt they are. But I know people are stocking up on ammo for when ISIS mounts an operation against their house. For most people fear is generated by press coverage, often ignorant or tendentious press coverage. And with the breathless coverage of developments that more or less obviously have no legal impact whatsoever, I don't doubt that many are nervous.

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The Cruz Weasel Magna Carta

I wanted to follow up on my debate take from last night. As I said, following the debate, the Trump festival and the video out of Oregon all together made it hard for me to follow as closely as I'd have liked or take it in as coherently as I'd wish. And it seems the initial reaction from commentators is that Cruz did worse than I suggested. My general sense is that it wasn't that Cruz got attacked or that the attacks on him did any particular damage. It was that the spotlight was inherently bad for him.

Here's what I mean.

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