Yesterday morning we still had less than half of the precincts in Nevada reporting, but it was obvious that Bernie Sanders had scored a big win in the caucuses. What was less clear was the standing of the second, third and fourth place finishers. If the exit polls were anything to go by, it appeared that Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden were basically tied. Well, so much for the exit polls.
We’re finally up to more than 95% of the precincts being counted and NBC News reports that Joe Biden has opened up a slim but important lead over Mayor Pete. Yesterday it looked like they were both at 18%. But assuming these numbers hold up (always a big assumption when dealing with caucus states), Biden has crept up to around 20% while Buttigieg has dipped to a bit over 13%. That’s critical because the bizarre caucus rules in Nevada require a candidate to get at least 15% in order to nab any earned delegates. This finish means that Buttigieg would leave Nevada without a single delegate, while Biden would pick up more than was originally estimated.
As Taylor pointed out last night, this has led Buttigieg to request a fresh look at the results, claiming that multiple “irregularities” had been reported and the numbers can’t be trusted. (Associated Press)
Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has questioned his third-place finish in Nevada’s caucuses and called for the state’s Democratic party to release a more detailed breakdown of votes and address reports of more than 200 problems allocating votes in Saturday’s caucuses.
But the Nevada State Democratic Party is suggesting that Buttigieg’s campaign seek a recount if it wants to challenge results.
In a letter sent to the state party late Saturday night and provided to The Associated Press on Sunday, the Buttigieg campaign said the process of integrating four days of early voting into in-person caucuses held Saturday was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies.”
It doesn’t sound like the Nevada Democratic Party is interested in redoing all of the work unless Buttigieg wants to pay for a recount. But it’s also not clear whether a recount would even be useful.
You can say that this is all just sour grapes on the part of the Buttigieg campaign, but he’s raising some valid points that we were warned about before the Nevada caucuses even began. They didn’t use the flawed phone app for reporting as originally planned, but the system they replaced it with wasn’t much better. Precinct captains were going on social media describing the confusion muddling the process at many caucus locations.
One of the biggest issues was the decision to mail out early voting ballots four days in advance. This reportedly led to problems integrating those ballots with the people who showed up to caucus. And because voters were allowed to pick up to five ranked candidates, more confusion ensued as to which person received the mail-in votes. Worst of all, in at least some precincts, there was apparently no way to securely confirm that some of the people who mailed in ballots hadn’t shown up to caucus anyway, meaning some of them may have voted twice.
The precinct captains were counting heads, not holding a formal roll call in most cases. It seems impossible at this point to go back and recreate those conditions and get an accurate total count. So while Pete Buttigieg does indeed have a valid complaint, there’s no telling whether taking another stab at it would help him or sink him further behind Biden. (But since he’s currently slated to get zero delegates, he really has nothing to lose.)
Nevada may not have been quite as much of a total disaster as Iowa… at least so far. But it’s quickly turning into yet another example of why the caucus system needs to go. The voters simply aren’t going to have any confidence that the final results are accurate.