Chaos in the Caucus
Written by Joe Wilhelm
February 10, 2020
On Feb. 3, 2020, the first of the Democratic primaries to elect the Democratic candidate for the upcoming 2020 Presidential election, started with the Iowa caucus. To elaborate, a caucus is a different method of election and is only done in nine US states and three of its overseas territories. Rather than straight poll voting, those who want to participate go to a designated polling location. These locations include, but are not limited to, school, gyms, or town halls. Once there, voters divide into groups based on the candidate they support. In this case, they would split into groups that would support popular Democratic Party figures, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Joe Biden, and so forth. The larger the group, the more votes are given to that candidate. While other states may have more delegates in the Democratic primary, such California’s 415 delegates which is nearly ten times that of Iowa’s 41, Iowa is special because it is the country’s first indication of which Democratic candidates will be the favorite choice for party representative.
However, the past weekend riddled the party with chaos and confusion rather than the predictions they were hoping for. The Democrats experienced some major issues, with most of these problems coming in the form of vote reporting. An app developed by Shadow Inc., a small, startup tech company hired to help make caucus voting easier, caused numerous issues. From connectivity when reporting, to cases where simply downloading the app causing a discrepancy in the results. Many of the chairs who chose to report in other ways, such as by phone, were left stuck on hold. Chaos seemed to reign throughout the night. The official report was not given until Thursday, three days after the results had been intended to be reported. When the dust had finally settled, it was determined that Buttigieg had narrowly won with 13 delegates, Sanders had claimed 12, Senator Warren claimed 8, and Biden had won 6.
In stark contrast to the chaotic Democratic caucus, the Republican Party promptly reported its results, as there was little competition or surprise. As expected, the Republicans ended with President Trump easily winning 39 of the delegates, former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh with 0, and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld winning 1. In addition, his poor showing caused the final defeat that resulted in the wildly unpopular Walsh to officially bow out of the race. Nevertheless, it was never contested that Trump would represent the Republican Party for the 2020 election and the Republican caucus easily confirmed that fact. Not only does he have no real competition, he has the Republican Party at his disposal to win the election. The most recent Gallup poll has Trump sitting at a 49% approval rating and 94% support from the Republican Party, his highest ratings since taking office in 2017.
While the incident itself was damaging to the Democrats throughout the week, there could be further repercussions for these failures. It is quite possible Iowa may lose the privilege to be our nation’s first primary election location. The previous Friday, Iowa’s Democratic Party chairman, Troy Price, took to Twitter to voice his opinion that an independent investigation should be launched in order to understand what went wrong on Monday, damaging the credibility of Iowa’s Democratic Party. As of today, that investigation is currently ongoing. The Democrats will have to work to ensure that issues like this do not happen in the future not only to save face, but to ensure the integrity and truthfulness of their data.
As we can see now, that lack of meaningful data has extenuated the doubts of Democratic unity, especially after the failed impeachment hearing for President Trump and the ongoing recanvassing of 66 precincts, as requested by the Sanders and Buttigieg Campaigns following the narrow results. Overall, the Democratic Party should be hoping this debacle is not an omen for the rest of their 2020 hopes, especially with the clear indecisiveness of the party on who should represent them.