The Iowa caucuses were always going to be tough on former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Increasingly, O’Malley has been the third wheel in a tight race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. And on Tuesday night, O’Malley’s relatively tiny showing of supporters made for some pretty awkward moments at the Iowa caucuses. After witnessing the saddest Martin O’Malley moments at the Iowa caucuses, most of America wanted to give the Democratic candidate a good hug.
Update: O'Malley suspended his presidential campaign on Monday night after polling at just one percent in Iowa, according to ABC News.
Just how tough Iowa would be for O’Malley became clear with the final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll that gave O’Malley just 3 percent of Iowa voters as of Saturday, according to CNN. But it turns out that tiny slice of supporters also mirrors the margin of error in the race between Clinton and Sanders, CNN reported. So even though O’Malley had the smallest crowds, they were actually pretty important.
Still, O’Malley’s poor showing made for some incredibly sad moments. At caucus events, voters are asked to crowd around signs for their preferred candidate. Once a sizable number of voters coalesce around one or two candidates, the people leaning toward unpopular candidates (and those who haven’t decided either way) are targeted for several rounds of hard convincing. As awkward as it sounds, Clinton and Sanders supporters had to target O’Malley voters and convince them to join another camp.
And within minutes of the doors opening, it was clear that Martin O'Malley simply wasn't viable.
In a story filed from Indianola, Iowa, the New York Times reported that O’Malley had just 10 supporters and needed more than double that number to remain viable. Speaking to a Times reporter, O’Malley supporter Nicholas Webb said that if he and other voters weren’t asked to join the larger campaigns, they could peel votes away from either of the larger camps. Either way, the prospects looked dim, he told the Times: “We’re pretty realistic. I came in pretty much knowing that it was unlikely we’d get to 15 percent.”
As bad as that account might seem, the visuals are even worse. Here are some of the saddest, most awkward gatherings of O'Malley supporters on Tuesday.
It remains to be seen whether Clinton or Sanders will manage to win over O’Malley’s supporters. According to CNN, voters expected to back O’Malley in the caucuses tend to be committed, savvy caucusgoers who understand the process. That could mean a long night and a tight race in Iowa precincts, since no one has had a clear read on which way O’Malley voters will break.
In the meantime, the sparse showing of O’Malley supporters made for some pretty sad dynamics in the caucus rooms. On Tuesday night, O’Malley was urging supporters to stay strong in the face of some serious peer pressure, but these tiny crowds just made me want to give the man a hug.