DES MOINES — When Hillary Clinton’s voice played through the speakers at Bernie Sanders’s caucus night party here Monday night, the crowd booed. When glitches caused the video of Clinton’s caucus night speech to freeze, the crowd cheered.
When Clinton could be heard saying “I am a progressive,” the crowd lost its collective mind with groans and boos.
This was the scene at the Des Moines airport Holiday Inn, where Sanders supporters milled around for hours watching results trickle in from the caucuses. The final result was basically a tie, theoretically giving both Clinton and Sanders a lot to cheer about but in reality re-engergizing a Sanders campaign that privately had worried their movement-based effort wouldn’t get the job done in the all-important opening round of the Democratic nomination contest.
Martin O’Malley dropped out early in the night, officially making the race what it had been for months: a battle between Clinton and Sanders. When Clinton took to the stage, slightly before Sanders, it was clear how divisive that race has become.
Even when the crowd could hear Clinton — meaning when the audio and video wasn’t frozen by some technical glitch — they chanted “Bernie Bernie” over her, or ignored her entirely.
At one point during a particularly long freeze, the DJ spinning records at the Sanders party tried to play the theme from Rocky at top volume. That was cut off shortly after it started when Clinton’s voice came back on.
The Sanders campaign still shows the seams of an insurgency, even as Sanders officially shares “frontrunner” status with Clinton has the race heads into New Hampshire. There was no one to wrangle the crowd — which was unruly but deeply, deeply feeling the Bern. There were no opening speakers, no signal to the press that Sanders was about to emerge.
But there was also an acknowledgement that the unlikely Sanders campaign, the unlikely Sanders message, was working. And had worked well enough to carry Sanders into New Hampshire with an equal share of the Iowa wind at his back Clinton claimed.
The weirdness of the evening affected things, too. Aides continually pushed back the departure of Sanders’ charter plane, set to whisk him and his expanding press corps to New Hampshire for another week of full-out campaigning there.
When Sanders walked out, and the banks of TV cameras cameras in the room were switched on to a live feed, the crowd behaved. They cheered and clapped politely when Sanders acknowledged Clinton, and they cheered even louder when he mentioned O’Malley.
The biggest cheer of the night came when Sanders said, “It looks like we are in a virtual tie.”
Sanders's team says a tie goes to the insurgent.
“What Iowa has started is a political revolution,” Sanders said to cheers.
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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