DES MOINES — Joe Biden and other leading candidates are actively courting lower-polling campaigns in the final days before the Iowa caucuses, hoping to forge election night alliances designed to pick up the supporters of candidates who fail to move past the first ballot.
Biden’s campaign has approached at least two rival primary campaigns, seeking to broker agreements ahead of the Monday night’s caucuses, according to sources familiar with his overtures. And an aide to Tom Steyer said Wednesday that his campaign had been approached by “multiple candidates.”
The Biden campaign reached out to Andrew Yang staffers, according to sources familiar with the conversation, and three Biden aides also approached a senior adviser to Amy Klobuchar’s campaign, Pete Giangreco, this week about a potential deal, sources said. The New York Times first reported the meeting.
In each case, the campaigns said they rebuffed advances.
The outreach efforts are familiar plays in Iowa caucus politics. The caucus system allows backers of non-viable candidates — those who fail to reach 15 percent support in a precinct on the first ballot — to realign with a new candidate on the second ballot, making them a valuable pool of voters who could tip the scales in a tight battle for delegates.
But the frenzy of activity also reflects the significance of second-choice votes in a crowded race that remains unsettled — and where top-tier candidates are preparing robust efforts to woo supporters of rival campaigns.
“It’s common sense to do this, but it’s also easier said than done because it requires a very good organization,” said Sam Roecker, an Iowa-based Democratic consultant who worked on former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s now-finished presidential bid. “Those rooms are crowded, chaotic, and being able to do that quick delegate math, while sending supporters out on the fly, takes planning and training. [But that] makes it very difficult to do that four days out.”
Steyer and Yang are running at 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in Iowa — combining for 7 percent of the vote — according to a Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday. Those candidates are widely expected to fail to meet support threshold in many precincts across the state.