This year’s Iowa caucus caused a political storm. Our News Sub-Editor, Venice Hancock, discusses the night

Venice Hancock | News Sub-Editor

The Iowa Caucus is one of the most highly anticipated events of the democratic primaries in any U.S. presidential election. It has been this way for decades and the multiple caucuses around the country have become a key aspect of election cycles. The caucuses matter because they represent the first opportunity to assess how much support candidates actually have from voters. Iowa’s caucuses are particularly important because it is the first. 

The past successes of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush in Iowa and the media storm that goes along with this specific caucus have elevated the event to an unmissable political moment in the election. In recent years, the results of the Iowa caucus have predicted the subsequent democratic nominee, we saw in 2008 when Barack Obama came first, and again when Hillary Clinton took the majority of votes in 2016.  

Considering the importance of the event, how did 3 February’s caucus end up in an unprecedented disastrous night for Iowa’s Democratic Party? It all started when the full announcement of the results were oddly delayed. After a lot of waiting and crowds in all teams growing increasingly concerned, the party made an announcement. They had determined late that Monday night there had been a “technical problem” with the way the results were being reported. Their back-up telephonic system also somehow failed to report results. This meant that they could not accurately deliver any results.

The party has contended that this was not the result of a hack but that there had actually been a problem with how an app was bringing in data from individual precincts to the main party. The party has confirmed that while this was a big issue, the data itself was not at risk. 

This bug in the system ultimately left candidates, campaigns and voters without a clear result to an important step in the buildup to the democratic nomination. So that night, all of the candidates got up on stage and gave a confident speech, showing that the lack of results would not affect their campaign in the slightest or hurt their chances. One candidate, Pete Buttigieg even declared himself victorious that very night. 

Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party said Tuesday afternoon during a press conference that “the reporting of the results and circumstances surrounding the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses was unacceptable”. He reassured voters that there had been no sort of conspiracy or rigging involved, a rumour perpetrated by many people, including sitting President Donald J. Trump, and contended that “the underlying data, the raw data, is secure. It’s always been secure.” He also added that he would be conducting an independent review and that the party had been working hard to ensure that the results are accurate. 

After Monday night’s whole debacle, preliminary and indicative results started coming in throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. The final alignment results, indicating the result of votes for any particular candidate that has made it above 15%, would indicate that Bernie Sanders would be in the lead, followed closely by Pete Buttigieg. Whereas the delegate equivalent, which pulls from this result to determine the amount of delegates for the state national convention that will take place this summer, places Mayor Buttigieg ahead of Senator Sanders by three votes or 0.22%. While these results may be indicative they are in no way official.  

While this messy caucus in Iowa has left campaigns and supporters angry, it has raised questions as to the systems in place that are supposed to guarantee that democracy can be executed correctly. Many have argued that the flaws in reporting systems should have been addressed way ahead of the caucus and that a glitch in the system should not completely alienate a political event as important as the Iowa caucus. 

For now, candidates now intend to move on with the campaign and have shifted their focus onto the New Hampshire caucus, hoping for this one to go according to plan. The Iowa caucus is only the first step in the long road to this summer’s Democratic National Convention that will ultimately determine who will face off against Donald Trump during the run up to the Presidency in early November.

[Image Credit: Jonathan Simcoe]

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