These are the views of an outsider, not even American. Definitely not an expert on caucus, but find it interesting and this particular one important.
The mess reflects poorly on Democrat organization. Republicans are
jumping on it (deflecting from the impeachment "trial." As I try to
wrap up this post Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:10 pm there is 97% of
district reports in.
The Iowa caucus is critical, but maybe not crucial on the path to the presidency. Mike Bloomberg skipped it, but has spent massive amounts on advertising that is starting to have an impact. Tension between progressive and moderate with each wing having more than one candidate. At some point voters will have to gang their votes together for their wing and at the end some people will have to accept someone from the other wing. There are two women left who have a realistic shot, one from each wing and it is possible either one could be a vice president, if not go to the top.
First the idea of a caucus appeals to me. In the final process it is necessary to reach 50% +1 to be declared the winning candidate and obviously before that it is necessary to sort through a variety of preferences. I bet a lot of 3rd party voters in 2016 wish they had a chance to vote again. Small states do give lesser known candidates a chance to be better known. I prefer the opinion of voters who have a chance for one on one conversations than media giants. Jimmy Carter, Barrack Obama and Pete Buttigieg proved to people on a one on one basis they deserve a bigger audience. Voters are pulled in different directions, but can work towards consensus that gains more acceptance.
Public voting can be intimidating with your neighbors, friends, etc maybe differing in opinion. Transparency is at a premium as at one level those participating know how many voted and for whom. A problem is the time required which has to affect workers and parents. This year satellite locations including Paris, France, Arizona and Florida allowed those who travel in the winter, mostly retired people to vote. This means the voting is slanted towards older people.
Jimmy Carter was relatively unknown on a national scale when he announced his presidential candidacy in late 1974 there were over 10 others with some waiting to announce. With the low number of delegates to be won, none of them took Iowa as seriously as Carter. He knocked on doors, left notes, followed up, but his goal was to get national media coverage. Tim Kraft was hired to organize small committees across the state and encouraged small donations. His campaign had a policy of carefully budgeting. With his wife he was able to lure media to many of his events and made efforts to attract national media that yielded positive results. He won the caucus and with the media attention he gained momentum that carried him all the way.
Since then any serious candidate has made Iowa a priority. It has been critical for such as Barrack Obama and John Kerry and perhaps Pete Buttigieg.
As the first state will help create momentum ideally it should be representative of America as a whole. Problems with Iowa are that it is mostly white which probably hurts the Democrats more who need to attract a strong black turnout. Another concern is that it is very rural. In order to attract Iowa voters politicians make promises of state interest.
It is very tight at the top with 0.1% separating Pete Buttigeig and
Bernie Sanders. A very subtle difference, but could be magnified.
Below them are Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. They have all been
boasting how they were going to win, but now reality starts to set in.
Fifth and still in the running is Amy Klobachur who I think actually
could win it all as she has the best combination of age, experience and
practicality. Like Kamala Harris she performed very well at the Brett Kavanagh hearing. Joe Biden's strength was supposedly that he was the one
who could best beat Trump. He has been hit by Trump with an alleged
scandal in Ukraine which I recognize is way overblown, but the nepotism is
real. On a CNN town hall for the first time he talked about his
stuttering and was very impressive, making him more human, but also more
open and intelligent.
They all (including almost all of the non winners) would be very acceptable to me. I especially liked Kamala Harris, but also like Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proved themselves smart and hard working warriors for workers and have been denigrated for socialism which somehow most Americans misunderstand.