So we’ve arrived at a point of some ambivalence. On the one hand, candidates such as Buttigieg, who seemingly did well there, are liable to be injured by the muddled storylines in Iowa following the results-reporting disaster on Monday night. On the other hand, it’s not clear why Iowa was afforded so much importance in the first place, and Buttigieg possibly owed his entire presence in the campaign to this quirk in the nomination process. Nonetheless, these were the rules of the game, as every candidate understood them. So if Iowa turns out not to matter very much because of the results-reporting snafu, they have every right to be upset.
To be even more blunt: the Iowa Democratic Party’s colossal screw-up in reporting results will potentially have direct effects on the outcome of the nomination process. The failure to report results will almost certainly help Biden, assuming that indications that he performed poorly in Iowa are correct, as they won’t get nearly as much media coverage. And they’ll hurt whichever candidate wins the state — mostly likely Sanders or Buttigieg. (Although if Sanders winds up finishing in second place or lower, he also might not mind a reduction in the importance of Iowa, especially with one of his best states, New Hampshire, coming up next.)
Furthermore, Iowa is typically a state that winnows the field. But with every candidate either having performed well there, potentially having an excuse for a disappointing finish there, or somewhere in between, it might not do that. Delaying the winnowing process would tangibly increase the chance of a contested convention.