Democratic Debacle in Iowa

News: Campaign 2020US News
by Stephen Wynne  •  •  February 4, 2020   

Reporting 'irregularities' spark caucus chaos

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DES MOINES, Iowa ( - Democrats are fuming after a breakdown in the Iowa caucus reporting system left the party without an official winner on Monday night.

After hours of waiting for caucus results, Americans went to bed Monday night without knowing which candidate captured the Democratic vote in Iowa. Likewise, they awoke Tuesday morning with no word as to who had won.

Caucus-goers waiting for results. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Reportedly, the unprecedented delay stemmed from process "inconsistencies."

Shortly before midnight on Monday, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) released a statement attempting to explain the setback.

"We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results," the statement read. "In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report."

"This is simply a reporting issue," IDP insisted. "The app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."

But IDP's account seemed to clash with a statement issued by Joe Biden's campaign team. In a letter to IDP, the clearly frustrated Biden team lamented the "considerable flaws" in the process:

The app that was intended to relay Caucus results to the Party failed; the Party's back-up telephonic reporting system likewise has failed. Now, we understand that Caucus Chairs are attempting to — and, in many cases, failing to — report results telephonically to the Party. These acute failures are occurring statewide. We appreciate that you plan to brief the campaigns momentarily on these issues, and we plan to participate. However, we believe that the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released.

Other Democrats voiced disgust and embarrassment at the reporting failure.

"With every passing minute that there is a delay, we worry that the process will lose credibility," an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren told CNN.

"This is a total mess," said former Democratic contender Julian Castro. "I respect the people of Iowa, they've been great — but it's become very clear that our democracy has been misserved by a broken system."

Caucus-goers themselves expressed exasperation over the breakdown of the reporting system. Shawn Sebastian, caucus secretary for Story County Precinct 1-1, took to Twitter late Monday night complaining he had been "on hold for over an hour" trying to report his vote tally to IDP. In frustration, Sebastian proceeded to announce his jurisdiction's results via the social media platform.

Noting Sebastian's tweet, CNN pundit Van Jones slammed the reporting delay: "This is starting to look like a debacle. ... You're starting to see a level of desperation set in — it's starting to look like a debacle."

And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?

Team Trump was also quick to comment on the Dems' Iowa fumble.

Early Tuesday, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale issued a statement challenging Democrats' competency and suggesting the entire process might have been rigged.

"Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history," said Parscale. "It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?"

Donald Trump, Jr. piled on. "If the Democrats can't run a caucus that they had four years to prepare for, how the hell can anyone think they could actually run the country?" he asked.

President Trump, meanwhile, tweeted simply: "Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!"

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