There’s a serious question facing all political pundits around the country this morning. Should we bother writing a new post about how bad the Iowa caucus system is or just recycle the ones we used four, eight and twelve years ago? Well, let’s get on with it.
In case you somehow missed it, Allahpundit left a post up last night with a tool to import the first and second round results from Iowa. As of the moment when my coffee finished brewing this morning, all of those numbers were still reading zero. Yes, sports fans… the Iowa Democrats managed to once again drop the ball and fail to count the votes of their caucus-goers properly. They’re talking about “technical glitches” and “confusion” and a variety of other excuses. The point is, we don’t have the final numbers yet and people are going to be suspicious about whatever totals they do manage to spit out later today. (Associated Press)
Democratic party officials in Iowa worked furiously Tuesday to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus, as frustrated presidential candidates claimed momentum and plowed ahead in their quest for the White House.
Technology problems and reporting “inconsistencies” kept Iowa Democratic Party officials from releasing results from Monday’s caucus, the much-hyped kickoff to the 2020 primary. It was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting the contest as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled field with no clear front-runner.
Instead, caucus day ended with no winner, no official results and many fresh questions about whether Iowa can retain its coveted “first” status.
Some of the quotes coming out of party leaders in the state are either laugh-out-loud funny or they’ll just make you weep. At least part of the many problems reportedly arose from a new app they developed to allow each precinct to upload their results to state party headquarters. Caucus organizers “reported problems downloading the app and other glitches.”
Seriously? You had four years to get ready for this and some of your caucus organizers waited to downloaded the app until last night?
“Well, Martha, it looks like everyone has picked a candidate. Get that new phone tool out and report the numbers.”
“Okie Dokey, Betty. Which button on the phone does that again?”
So how did it happen yet again? According to Timothy Carney at the Washington Examiner… these people simply can’t count. He provides coverage of how things played out at one precinct in Council Bluffs and it was pretty much chaos.
Some voters started the evening unaligned, some voters realigned before the realignment period, and others realigned to nonviable candidates. According to Sanders’s acting precinct captain, some Sanders voters left early, and yet the precinct chairwoman conducted the count primarily by counting heads, using the paper ballots only as a backup.
All the while, the two precinct leaders tried to keep order with poorly amplified microphones, and many caucusgoers didn’t understand the rules, which changed this year. A few elderly voters simply couldn’t hear instructions. It didn’t help that Sanders’s precinct captain failed to show.
So even assuming they get their app working, the underlying data remains suspect because there were caucus organizers literally counting heads despite having paper ballots filled out. Non-voters were mixed in with the crowds. People arrived late or left early.
Physically counting heads is a system that was probably the best you could manage in the 1800s when you only had a middling chance of finding a precinct captain capable of counting past ten without removing their shoes. Not for nothing, but we’re well into the 21st century now. There are literally some flying cars out there. Virtually all of you have computers inside of your phones that are millions of times more powerful than the one on the first moon lander. And yet, when given the task of running the first step of the process to potentially select the next leader of the free world, you’re counting your votes via a game of duck, duck, goose?
For what it’s worth, Bernie Sanders’ team got tired of waiting and eventually released their own unofficial results on Twitter. Shockingly, their numbers have Sanders doing quite well.
— Hanna Trudo (@HCTrudo) February 4, 2020
If we’re to accept Sanders’ guesstimate, he finished first, with Buttigieg and Warren coming in second and third respectively with 29, 24 and 21 percent. Poor Joe Biden stumbles across the finish line with… twelve? With the exception of Bernie’s placement, that would be a stunning shift from the numbers Emerson posted on Sunday in their final poll. You might suggest that some of the disparities were caused by the second round realignments, but does that really explain it? Sanders shows some minor shifts, but nothing approaching the chasm between Biden’s last poll numbers and this report.
We’ll know sooner or later and one of us here will cover it, I’m sure. For now, feel free to kick around some ideas as to how we can boot Iowa out of their first primary perch. Perhaps we could all kick in and just offer to buy them some of those new-fangled voting machines I keep hearing about.