Good morning, everybody. Feeling a little groggy, are we? Admit it — you stayed up late to see if that razor-thin number separating Hillary and Bernie would shift when the final precincts came in. Well, now, grab a second cup of coffee, and let's do this.
1. The Clinton campaign was 'unnerved' by last night's results. That's whatThe New York Times reported from behind the scenes at the Iowa Caucus, after Hillary Clinton failed to deliver a decisive win over Bernie Sanders.
Take it away, New York Times:
Clinton advisers said late Monday night that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were discussing bringing on additional staff members to strengthen her campaign operation now that a pitched battle may lie ahead against Mr. Sanders. The advisers said they did not know if a significant staff shakeup was at hand, but they said that the Clintons were disappointed with Monday night’s result and wanted to ensure that her organization, political messaging and communications strategy were in better shape for the contests to come.
At her caucus night party here, Mrs. Clinton sought to put the best face on a tight result that had nearly half of Democrats voting against her. “As I stand here tonight breathing a big sigh of relief — thank you, Iowa!” she said, joined on stage by Mr. Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea. “I am excited about really getting into the debate with Senator Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America,” Mrs. Clinton said.
The best thing about Clinton's speech is that CNN cut off Ted Cruz's victory rant to air it. (More on that, below.)
Sanders waited a bit before he spoke to supporters. When he did, he declared the results "a virtual tie." And, oh yeah: In your face, establishment media!
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's vote counts were so low that he dropped out altogether.
Later, as returns crept up to the very last precincts to be reported, CNN announced there was some kind of cock-up with 90 precincts that had supposedly been understaffed.
Late-night viewers had to give up, by that point. People gotta sleep! But now that we're all awake-ish, here's a report from Roll Call:
The Iowa Democratic Party informed the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders late Monday night that it has no results for 90 precincts across the state, which could account for as much as 5 percent of the total vote. And the party has asked the campaigns for help in getting a tally for those missing results.
“We are, right now, calling all our precinct captains on precincts where we have knowledge of what’s missing, to report what we think happened there,” a visibly irate Robert Becker, Sanders’ state director told Roll Call after Sanders’ speech at the Holiday Inn near the Des Moines airport.
“They’ve asked the other campaigns to do the same thing. At the end of the day, there’s probably going to be squabbles on it,” he added.
Musical note: Before and after Clinton's speech, "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten was played over the PA. After Sanders spoke, the campaign chose a different era of song for Bernie to go out on.
But let's resist temptation to pass around any more of those annoying Sanders-versus-.Clinton Facebook memes off of this, OK? Be like Bill. Don't do that shit.
And now, here's something we can't put off discussing any longer, now matter how we try:
2. Ted. Glory be to gawd, Cruz won.And sweet mother of Jeebits did he ever deliver the late-night TV preacher sermon-as-political-victory speech of all time.
TPM reports that CNN cut Cruz off before he got around to inviting Dems to get into The Big Tent with him:
"Tonight, I want to say to every member of the Democratic Party who believes in limited government, in personal opportunity, in the United States Constitution and a safe and secure America, come home," Cruz said. "To the Reagan Democrats, your party has left you. The Republican Party wants you; we welcome you back."
Yeah, they'll get right on that, Ted.
Trump was No. 2, and he was surprisingly gracious about it — which means he was BORRR-IIIINNNG.
Whatever happened to the raging bull in this blast from the recent past?
3. It's in the judge's hands. Attorneys rested their cases Monday in the federal trial to determine whether the Voter ID law 'harms the fundamental right to vote," as The News & Observer puts it:
For many, the case has been a test of what the Voting Rights Act of 1965 means today, almost three years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 50-year-old law.
When the country’s highest court freed Southern states that year from the requirement that federal authorities approve any proposed election law changes to ensure no harm to minority voters, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Our country has changed.”
But in North Carolina, where the 2013 election law overhaul containing the new voter ID requirement was pushed through the General Assembly shortly after that ruling, attorneys for and against the new voting rules have debated whether history is on the verge of repeating itself.
Do the right thing, your honor.
4. State employees' health benefits are in jeopardy. As reported by WRAL, the NC State Health Plan board of trustees will vote on Friday on whether to "end access to a popular health insurance option" and raise costs on others in the plan.
Although those changes, including the elimination of what's known as the 80/20 plan, wouldn't take effect next year, board members could vote Friday to have their staff work on putting those changes in place by 2018. Plans for 2017 appear to raise costs across all coverage options, including what could be the last year of the 80/20 offering.
These changes, of course, would be in response to pressure from the state legislature to cut costs.
"These proposals are going to make the State Health Plan the worst state health plan in the United States of America," said Chuck Stone, director of operations for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, the largest union-affiliated group representing state workers, speaking in a video posted late last week.
OK, folks, we're going to have to leave it there, as Wolf Blitzer would say. Have an exceptional Tuesday, and remember all the reasons why we vote.