Democratic race in Iowa likely to be decided by turnout

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Brokaw on the Power of the Iowa Caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa -- After all the ads, rallies, and canvassing, now there's nothing left but for Iowa's voters to finally have their say Monday night at the critical first-in-the nation caucuses.

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On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in a tight race in the state that will help set the trajectory of the rest of the nominating contest.

A win for Sanders would be a major upset that could carry his insurgent candidacy deep into the spring, while a win for Clinton would blunt Sanders' rise and help put her on a glide path to the Democratic nomination.

Clinton's first presidential campaign was derailed when she lost here in 2008, when Barack Obama -- another insurgent candidate favored by young people -- swamped her at the caucuses. This year, however, Sanders faces a number of challenges that Obama did not.

See photos of Hillary Clinton campaigning ahead of the Iowa caucuses

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Hillary Clinton campaigning before Iowa Caucus
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Democratic race in Iowa likely to be decided by turnout
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Decorah, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Hoping to persuade undecided Democrats with just a week until the Iowa caucuses, Clinton and Bernie Sanders took on some of the questions that have most dogged their candidacies, from trustworthiness and e-mails to feasibility and socialism. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MARSHALLTOWN, IA - JANUARY 26: A supporter of democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a campaign sign during a 'get out the caucus' event at BR Miller Middle School on January 26, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton is campaigning throughout Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laughs during a rally at BR Miller Middle School in Marshalltown, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
MARSHALLTOWN, IA - JANUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a 'get out the caucus' event at BR Miller Middle School on January 26, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton is campaigning throughout Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Decorah, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Hoping to persuade undecided Democrats with just a week until the Iowa caucuses, Clinton and Bernie Sanders took on some of the questions that have most dogged their candidacies, from trustworthiness and e-mails to feasibility and socialism. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MARSHALLTOWN, IA - JANUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a 'get out the caucus' event at BR Miller Middle School on January 26, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton is campaigning throughout Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MARSHALLTOWN, IA - JANUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a 'get out the caucus' event at BR Miller Middle School on January 26, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton is campaigning throughout Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CEDAR FALLS, IA - JANUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a 'get out the caucus' event at the University of Northern Iowa on January 26, 2016 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton is campaigning throughout Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets a member of the audience after speaking at a rally at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets members of the audience after speaking at a rally at BR Miller Middle School in Marshalltown, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a question from a member of the audience after speaking at a rally at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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It's a cliché, but this time it's true: The race will likely be decided by turnout. If the total number of caucus-goers is close to the 240,000 that showed up on the Democratic side in 2008, Sanders could win. But if turnout is closer to the 125,000 that came out in 2004, Clinton is the favorite.

Clinton's campaign began in the state 15 months ago after she drove across the country in what she affectionately dubbed the "Scooby Van" for a series of tiny roundtable events.

It ended with a massive rally in Des Moines of 2,600, one of her largest in the state, as Clinton made her closing pitch about her readiness for the job and ability to beat Republicans.

Clinton was joined on stage by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea, who had flown into the state to give the candidate a final boost.

Former Sen. Tom Harkin, one of Clinton's most powerful backers in the state, told the crowd he could "smell a lot of victory in the air."

Meanwhile, across town, 1,700 people packed into a gymnasium to see Sanders one more time on the eve of the caucuses. He began by thanking Iowans for their hospitality and for giving his unexpected candidacy a chance, before moving on to deliver his stump speed.

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Bernie Sanders supporters
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Democratic race in Iowa likely to be decided by turnout
A supporter sports a t-shirt with a montage of photographs of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, during a mock caucus at Drips coffee shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Hoping to persuade undecided Democrats with just a week until the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders took on some of the questions that have most dogged their candidacies, from trustworthiness and e-mails to feasibility and socialism. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ben Cohen, left, and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings Inc., talk to supporters during a mock caucus at Drips coffee shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Hoping to persuade undecided Democrats with just a week until the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders took on some of the questions that have most dogged their candidacies, from trustworthiness and e-mails to feasibility and socialism. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Audience members look on as Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a stop at the United Steelworkers Local 310L union hall, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Max Knauer, of Des Moines, Iowa, waits for Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to speak at a stop at the United Steelworkers Local 310L union hall, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Kenny Jackson of Pleasantville, Iowa listens as Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks during a stop at the United Steelworkers Local 310L union hall, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A Muslim woman holds a sign for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at a campaign event on the campus of University of Northern Iowa Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A man listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with a sticker on his hand at a campaign event Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Independence, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A woman wears a shirt supporting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at a campaign event on the campus of Upper Iowa University Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Fayette, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A supporter of Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders listens during a campaign event at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 24, 2016, ahead of the Iowa Caucus. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: A supporter of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., shows off buttons during a campaign rally at Bedford High School in Bedford, N.H., January 22, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Supporters of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listen to him speak during a campaign rally at Bedford High School in Bedford, N.H., January 22, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
BIRMINGHAM, AL - JANUARY 18: Cassidy Lamb waves a sign before Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives to a campaign rally at Boutwell Auditorium, January 18, 2016 in Birmingham, Alabama. Sanders spoke to a capacity crowd of around 5,000 supporters. (Photo by Hal Yeager/Getty Images)
A sign supporting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is propped against the wall next to water fountains at a campaign event, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Maquoketa, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
An attendee holds a sign as Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at Bedford High School, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Bedford. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A supporter walks with a poster depicting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as Sanders speaks at a town hall at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Signs lean up against a wall as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks at the Fort Museum Opera House in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Benjamin James Hall Jr. of Bellevue, Neb. wears a shirt in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as he speaks at a county meeting at U.M.B.A. Hall in Pottawattamie, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves a drawing of Sanders's face during a campaign stop, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
MARSHALLTOWN, IA - JANUARY 10: Marc Daniels, of Springfield, Illinois, travels from one campaign event to another selilng what he calls 'Presidential Yarmulkes.' He is wearing a yarmulke printed with the phrase, 'Bernie Sanders 2016,' in Hebrew. Daniels was a guest at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on January 10, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. Sanders drew an overflow crowd to the 600 person capacity meeting room of the Best Western Regency Inn in Marshalltown. Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have been making appearances at events across Iowa to build support in advance of the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. (Photo by Charles Ledford/Getty Images)
BURLINGTON, VT - JANUARY 07: A Bernie Sanders supporter holds up a pair of 'Bernie Briefs' in a local bar on January 7, 2016 in Burlington, Vermont. The line to see Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign rally wrapped around the venue and down multiple streets and multiple groups of protesters were. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - NOVEMBER 14: John Jarecki wears a puppet of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to show his support for the candidate prior to the start of the Democratic presidential debate at Drake University on November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate will be the second for the democratic candidates seeking the nomination for president. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A woman wearing a hat with a sign in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, stands at a rally ahead of the Democratic presidential candidate debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The second Democratic debate, hosted by CBS News, KCCI and the Des Moines Register, is the Democratic National Committees only sanctioned debate in Iowa prior to the states first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 1. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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With Clinton narrowly ahead in recent polls, Sanders' campaign is lowering expectations and preparing spin a narrow loss as a win, given that he started so far back.

At the Sanders rally, supporter after supporter took the podium to remind voters of how far they've come, but no one with the Harkin's stature predicted victory. "Because of you, we ain't 50 points down anymore, are we?" said Pete D'Alessandro, Sanders' top official in the state.

"At the end of the day, I think in terms of the division of delegates, whether you win by two points or you lose by two points, it's not going to matter a whole lot," Sanders told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" earlier in the day. Later, at an event in Marshalltown, Sanders called the race a "tossup."

Over the weekend, there was a last minute push as the campaigns mobilized their massive get-out-the-caucus machines, the two largest operations in the state of either party.

See photos of Iowa ahead of the caucus

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A look around Iowa ahead of the caucus
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Democratic race in Iowa likely to be decided by turnout
DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 01: Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul campaign for their candidate on a busy street corner during morning rush hour on February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The U.S. presidential election kicks off today with voters taking part in the Iowa Caucus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 31: The head of an Uncle Sam eagle sits on a bar stool at the Marriott hotel bar on January 31, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The presidential selection officially kicks February 1 with the Iowa caucuses. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA - JANUARY 31: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created with a smartphone.) Campaign buttons sit for sale on January 31, 2016 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 30: Cows are seen in a pasture on January 30, 2016 outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 30: An American flag is seen painted on a barn on January 30, 2016 outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SIOUX CITY, IA - JANUARY 30: An old Chevrolet car sits outside an old factory on January 30, 2016 in Sioux City, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
FENTON, IA - JANUARY 29: The sun sets behind wind turbines which the state uses to create nearly 30 percent of all electricity generated on January 29, 2016 in Fenton, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FENTON, IA - JANUARY 29: A car is seen in the wall of a shed on January 29, 2016 in Fenton, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MONONA COUNTY, IA - JANUARY 29: A classic Chevrolet pick-up truck sits a barn adorned by Americana memorabilia on January 29, 2016 in Carrol County, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
FENTON, IA - JANUARY 29: A pro-life sign is posted in a field on January 29, 2016 in Fenton, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CARROLL COUNTY, IA - JANUARY 29: A pro-life campaign poster sits in the vast grand plains of Iowa on January 29, 2016 in Carrol County, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MONONA COUNTY, IA - JANUARY 29: A poster supporting Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz sits next to a Nativity scene outside the home of a supporter on January 29, 2016 in Carrol County, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are touring the state campaigning for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28: Campaign signs regarding ethanol are seen January 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are all over the state looking for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28: A campaign billboard of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is seen January 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Candidates who are seeking the nominations from the Republican and Democratic Party are all over the state looking for votes before the Iowa caucus that takes place on February 1. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28: A giant poster of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands in the backyard of a supporter in West Des Moines on January 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Politicians are criss crossing the state looking for votes before the Iowa caucus takes place next week. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 27: A sign sits outside the Des Moines headquarters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in West Des Moines on January 27, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Politicians are crisscrossing the state looking for votes before the Iowa caucus takes place next week. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
CRESTON, IA - JANUARY 22: A man stands outside the headquarters for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on January 22, 2016 in Creston, Iowa. Sanders, who is seeking the nomination from the Democratic Party is on the presidential campaign trail across Iowa ahead of the Iowa Caucus taking place February 1. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
URBANDALE, IOWA - JANUARY 22: Marsha Schoolcraft from Helotes, Texas, Mary Elizabeth Jackson from Tyler, Texas, and David Carter from Temple, Texas (L-R), all volunteers, phone bank at the campaign headquarters of Ted Cruz on January 22, 2016 in Urbandale, IA. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - JANUARY 22: Pictures of Hillary Clinton adorn the wall in her campaign headquarters on January 22, 2016 in Des Moines, IA. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - JANUARY 22: Stella Tsantekidou, 21, volunteers at the campaign headquarters of Bernie Sanders on January 22, 2016 in Des Moines, IA. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
JOHNSTON, IOWA - JANUARY 22: A memorial dedicated to military veterans outside the public library on January 22, 2016 in Johnston, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - NOVEMBER 16: A political billboard features Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and paid for by Nextgen Climate Action Committee is seen November 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa will hold its caucus on February 1, 2016, the first in the primary season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Four thousand Sanders volunteers knocked on 112,000 doors across the state Saturday and Sunday, according to an aide. Clinton's campaign, meanwhile, rang doorbells at even more than 125,000 doors, an aide said, and campaign manager Robby Mook even hit the streets to engage voters.

The Clinton campaign claims more than 4,200 trained precinct captains and team members are in place for caucus night, while the Sanders campaign says it has 2,626. Either number will should be plenty to cover the 1,681 Democratic precincts across the state.

Earlier in the day, Sanders announced that he raised a whopping $20 million in January alone, and that the campaign had received a total 3.25 million individual contributions.

The candidates have no scheduled events Monday, leaving a lengthy calm before the caucuses, which kick off at 7:00 p.m. CT sharp and continue for two hours. As the results come, Sanders and Clinton will rally with supporters, hoping for some good news.

Before the night is over, however, the candidates will quickly flee the state to which they've devoted so much time and energy to make a beeline for New Hampshire, with it's first-in-the-nation primary now just 10 days away.

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