Iowa in a flurry: suspicious caucus results weaken Democrats in 2020 General Election

Courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Two weeks ago, the nation waited with baited breath for the caucus results that never came. Iowa holds the country’s first contests for political party primaries, and the Democratic party contest was a total disaster. The results are still incomplete, with many errors uncorrected even weeks later. The country now moves on to other primaries, but this fiasco will not be forgotten. The caucus failure stems from the seemingly tampered results, giving ammunition to Republicans in the general election for their typical weapons of calling Democrats corrupt and incompetent.

Many voters are now suspicious of the results due to the event’s  connection to Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg. The precinct captains managing the caucuses were to report results on an app that had recently been developed by a company called Shadow. Buttigieg’s campaign made a donation to the company, and the owner of Shadow is a known Buttigieg supporter. If that wasn’t enough, the errors that occurred in the app appeared to mostly disadvantage Bernie Sanders and benefit Pete Buttigieg. With state delegate equivalents being awarded to Buttigieg that should have gone to Sanders. Buttigieg is a favorite of the Democratic establishment, and it’s no secret that Sanders is in the doghouse. It’s not much of a stretch of the imagination to assume the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) was intentionally manipulating the caucus results.

The method by which the IDP chose to release the results makes the situation look even worse. The day after the results were supposed to be in, the IDP decided to release only 60% of them, claiming the other precincts were not yet counted. They waited hours to release the rest, and the count didn’t go above 90% of the results for days. The early results showed Buttigieg leading, allowing him to claim victory and command the news coverage of the caucuses, leading to an increase in his polling in other early primary states. But as more results were revealed, Buttigieg’s lead shrunk considerably. Sanders beat him by 6,000 votes, and was only 0.1% behind in state delegate equivalents. In spite of their statistical tie, Buttigieg was awarded 14 national delegates, while only 12 were awarded to Sanders.

Given the facts, it is unsurprising that many believe the release of results was orchestrated to benefit Buttigieg going into the New Hampshire primary the following week. Trump has already levied attacks against the Democratic party, calling the caucuses a disaster and praising the Republican contest for going so smoothly. The IDP chair has now resigned, citing mishandling of the election and public pressure as the reasons. It is good that he resigned, but the spotlight on the Democratic party’s incompetence has done its damage.

The Iowa Democratic Caucus was a definitive disaster. At best, it showcases an egregious amount of incompetence. At worst, it was an orchestrated attempt to boost the Buttigieg campaign and undermine Sanders. Either way, the Democrats have been weakened going into the 2020 general election, handing Trump one more way to undermine the party on a silver platter. The battle against Trump will be difficult and ugly — democrats must be more careful.

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