If you’re reading this article, you’re probably at least a little bit of a politics junkie, so I’m going to assume you don’t need to have the caucuses explained to you. The fact that anyone who doesn’t make the 15% threshold in the first round of voting will be eliminated, with their voters free to caucus for other candidates, makes predicting Iowa notoriously treacherous. Nonetheless, I’m going to risk it here, and either hang my head as Keaton mocks me unmercifully on our next podcast, or demand a raise if I called it right. Here goes:

  1. Bernie Sanders
  2. Elizabeth Warren
  3. Joe Biden
  4. Pete Buttigieg
  5. Amy Klobuchar

Here’s why:

1. Sanders

Every fact-set you can name favors Sanders in this contest. He’s led in all the recent polling, including the final Emerson poll released on Sunday, in which he’s up on Biden by 7%. He also has the most donors, and the most volunteers. On top of that he closed out his campaign in the state with a rally that drew about 3,000 people - triple what any other candidate was able to pull in. According to the campaign, Sanders’ volunteer army knocked on over 500,000 doors leading up to the caucus. I can also tell you anecdotally from making calls into culturally similar Minnesota, folks out in the heartland are feeling the Bern. About 80% of the people I reached were planning on supporting Sanders. It was a palpably different experience from phone banking in 2016. Not only do I think Sanders will win it, I think he’s going to crush it, given the difficulty of accurately polling Sanders supporters. If Sanders is up by 7% in the polls, he’s probably up by 10%-15% on the ground.

2. Warren

Warren has been fighting it out with Mayor Pete for the college-educated white vote for several months. Now that most of the Sanders-to-Warren folks have gone back to Sanders in the wake of her M4A 3-year plan and CNNgate, that’s about all she has left. So, the real question is, who wins that group? I think it’s Warren for a couple of reasons. We’ve been hearing from everyone on the ground in Iowa that she has the best field operation in the state, and that she’s pretty dug in, and that she has been for awhile. She also isn’t polling at 0% with black voters in South Carolina, unlike her main rival in this lane, Mayor Pete. If you’re an Iowa voter, you’ve gotta be asking yourself, “Why vote for someone who has no chance after New Hampshire?” I think that swings the “too cool for Biden, but too rich for Bernie” vote in her direction.

3. Biden

Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti of The Hill, have placed Biden in 4th, and that could definitely happen if his field operation is as bad as we’re hearing. Lets face it, its gotta be pretty bad for John Kerry to be caught ranting on the phone in the middle of a hotel lobby about jumping into the race, mere days before the vote. I don’t think its going to play out that way only because of the Klobuchar factor. Almost half of her voters have Biden as their second choice. Given that Klobuchar is virtually certain to fall short of the 15% threshold, that’s going to give Biden a boost. Between that, and the tendency of his geriatric cohort to show up at the polls, I think he manages to squeak into 3rd.

4. Buttigieg

He’ll probably clear the 15% threshold. But not by much. I only think he’ll clear that because of the resources he’s poured into the state, the months the corporate media has spent promoting his candidacy like it’s their job, and the fact that the white college educated vote is a big part of the Democratic base in Iowa. Big enough to both push Warren into second, and place Buttigieg right on the edge of qualifying for delegates.

5. Klobuchar

No real need to explain this one, but I’ll make another prediction: she’s going to drop out after Iowa, and endorse Joe Biden as part of a desperate establishment effort to prop him up.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it with the proviso that I could be completely wrong about everything. Except Sanders. He’s gonna crush it.