2020 presidential candidates

In Las Vegas — a city known for prize fights — the Democrats were gloves off.

And a new entrant in the ring took a lot of incoming: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent more than $300 million of his own money on ads to raise his profile.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the man largely responsible for making his state's presidential caucuses a prominent early contest, has declined the opportunity to defend caucus systems in an interview with NPR.

"I will talk about that after Super Tuesday, after when we get California and Texas out of the way," Reid said. "Right now, we're gonna make the best we can of the system we have."

Updated at 7:08 a.m. ET

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened up a double-digit lead in the Democratic nominating contest, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Sanders has 31% support nationally, up 9 points since December, the last time the poll asked about Democratic voters' preferences.

The head of the Iowa Democratic Party filed his resignation Wednesday, as the organization is still picking up the pieces from last week's caucus debacle.

Troy Price had been head of the state party since 2017, but after his role in overseeing a process widely panned as disorganized and opaque, it became an open question whether he would stay on in his job.

As the Democratic primary season rolls on, one big lesson already is sinking in from the party's caucus-night meltdown in Iowa: Secrecy isn't a strategy.

State Democratic chair Troy Price declined to answer questions a month ago about what sorts of tests were conducted on the smartphone app the party was planning to use on caucus night or detail backup plans should it fail.

But he did promise some sort of transparency.

Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET

The finish at the top in New Hampshire looked a lot like the finish last week in Iowa, this time with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leading the way and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg finishing a close second.

But from the No. 3 spot on down there were some pretty big surprises, including the rise of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and disappointing finishes for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Here are six takeaways from what happened last night:

Updated at 12:49 p.m. ET

Democrats are going to try again.

After the Iowa results meltdown, New Hampshire takes center stage Tuesday night. This election is run by the secretary of state's office and not the state party. It's also a more-straightforward primary (with a couple kinks we explain below) rather than a complicated, math-heavy caucus.

Voting in the Democratic presidential nominating contest is about to kick off Monday with the Iowa caucuses.

The stakes are high in Iowa — the last four Democratic nominees have all won the Hawkeye State. But after about a year of campaigning and $50 million spent here by the candidates, the outcome is unclear.

The pressure is on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who led in the polls coming in, has drawn the biggest crowds on the ground, and does incredibly well with younger voters.

A flurry of qualifying polls released Sunday has put tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang back on the Democratic debate stage.

Yang is the seventh candidate to qualify for the Feb. 7 debate in Manchester, N.H., which is just four days ahead of the primary there.

There are now no more official debates before Democrats begin voting.

Tuesday night's debate was the last before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, and it featured six of the 12 remaining candidates — the top four of whom polls show to be neck and neck.

Democratic primary voters got a substantive debate in which the candidates clashed over what it means to be commander in chief, gender politics and, of course, health care.

Here are four takeaways from Tuesday night's debate:

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET

We're up to the seventh debate, and down to six candidates.

The leading Democratic presidential candidates return to the debate stage Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET — this time in Iowa, which hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses in less than three weeks.

Sen. Cory Booker announced Monday he is dropping out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

In an email to his supporters, Booker cited a number of reasons: most notably, a lack of money to continue.

"Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don't have, and money that is harder to raise because I won't be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington," Booker wrote.

Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET

Viewers tuning in for the latest Democratic presidential candidates' debate Tuesday night may sense something missing in Des Moines.

Don't put too much stock in all those New Year's predictions you're hearing and seeing about American politics in 2020. Anyone saying they know what will happen is probably just trying to get our attention.

And probably succeeding. We've all fallen for headlines and clickbait proclaiming foreknowledge of events. We do it for sports, the stock market and just about any other outcome that cannot be foreseen.

That goes for elections — especially for elections — and particularly in a high-stakes, pivotal cycle such as we are in now.

Women always make up more than half of the electorate in national elections.

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