The Slatest

Biden Team Floats Possible Klobuchar Alliance in Iowa Caucus

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar stand onstage behind debate podiums with arms raised to answer a question.
Will a Biden-Klobuchar Iowa alliance put the former VP on top of a surging Bernie Sanders? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With polls showing Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders neck and neck in Iowa just days out from Monday’s caucus, the New York Times reports that Biden’s Iowa team has floated the possibility of teaming up with Amy Klobuchar’s campaign ahead of the first ballot. The potential alliance between two of the more conservative Democratic candidates in this year’s contest would come into play only in precincts where either candidate fails to garner enough support to meet the 15 percent threshold required to be viable and move on to the second round. In Iowa, supporters of nonviable candidates are allowed to recast their support to another candidate. With Biden currently duking it out with Sanders atop Iowa polls, and Klobuchar’s polling still sagging in the single digits, this is likely to be a bigger ask of the Minnesota senator since she will likely struggle to reach the 15 percent threshold in a number of precincts.

Klobuchar’s team has dismissed the Biden proposal, emphasizing her uptick in the polls as the candidates approach the first true test of the field. “People in both the Biden and Klobuchar camps played down the discussion, which took place at a Des Moines restaurant, and aides for Ms. Klobuchar said they did not regard it as a serious overture. But there is little doubt among Mr. Biden’s allies in the state that his campaign is contemplating such steps, with an eye toward preventing a messy split among moderate candidates on Monday,” the Times reports. “One complication for Mr. Biden and Ms. Klobuchar is that they are not the only candidates vying for the support of moderate Iowa Democrats. Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren are also polling in the teens there and could ensure that none of the four leading alternatives to Mr. Sanders can coalesce support.”

It’s not uncommon for candidates to strategically align themselves with certain competitors to game the arcane caucus system by appealing to voters as, essentially, their second choice. Klobuchar’s support, generally in the high single digits, means she currently resides outside the top four by a substantial margin, but is significant enough that it could swing the race if directed elsewhere. The problem for the Biden proposal is that giving up on Iowa would mean essentially giving up on the race for Klobuchar. Despite improved fundraising numbers, its hard to see where she’d be able to scrounge actual votes if she can’t convince like-minded voters in her neighboring state.