It’s a cliche at this point to say a primary election will all come down to turnout. But in Monday’s Iowa caucus, turnout is expected to play a big role not just in terms of who wins but in how early in the evening the major news outlets will be able to project the winners. Those staying up to see who won the first electoral contest of the cycle could be in for a long night if 2012 -- when Mitt Romney's tight victory was declared in the early morning hours (only to be reversed days later) -- repeats itself.
A big turnout could have an opposite effect on the two parties. For Democrats, it means a closer race to watch between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. For Republicans, a big turnout signals Donald Trump is primed to pull away from the rest of the field.
“If Sanders' folks don't turn out, it's clear Clinton wins," said Timothy Hagle, a political scientist professor of University of Iowa. “If Trump's folks don't turn out, it's not clear who wins."
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