- None of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates walked away with a win on the night of the Iowa caucus as a malfunctioning reporting app and consequent chaos threw a wrench in the process and delayed the results.
- Democratic activists were incensed that an already complex system of voting was undermined further by a mobile app that reported incomplete information to party officials and pushed the count into Tuesday.
- “This is a complete and total shibacle,” Steve Schale, a Florida-based Democratic strategist working with former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, told Insider late Monday. “It’s hard to have a lot of confidence right now in any result.”
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After many months – and in some cases more than a year – of campaigning, the Democratic presidential candidates made their final pitches in Iowa as voters caucused in the small Midwestern state on Monday night.
But it soon became clear that none of the candidates would walk away with a win on the night of the caucus as a malfunctioning reporting app and consequent chaos consumed the process and delayed the results.
For years, observers and participants have criticised the inefficient, turnout-depressing caucusing process in the state, where coin flips and scenes of people reorganising in middle-school gyms are common. But Democratic activists were incensed that an already complex system of voting was undermined further by a mobile app that reported incomplete information to party officials and pushed the count into Tuesday.
“This is a complete and total shibacle,” Steve Schale, a Florida-based Democratic strategist working with former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, told Insider late Monday. “It’s hard to have a lot of confidence right now in any result.”
“What a goddamn mess,” Ian Russell, a former deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Insider.
Calls to end Iowa’s reign as the first-in-the-nation contest intensified on Monday night and Tuesday. Some said this year’s debacle would also ensure that the caucuses are replaced with a standard primary process.
“How does the Iowa delegation go before the Democratic National Committee in hopefully seven years’ time, but potentially three years’ time, and try to maintain its exalted status in the calendar?” Russell said. “There were already a lot of people waiting in the long grass for them, and now there’s going to be even more.”
Russell argued that because former President Barack Obama’s win in Iowa in 2008 “poured rocket fuel on his prospects,” Obama wasn’t in a good position to advocate moving the caucus. But this year’s chaos means no one candidate is likely to fight too hard to maintain Iowa’s powerful position.
Iowa failed in its sole task: to deliver clarity for and about the many candidates still in the race.
“Fundamentally what is needed to winnow this field is information about what voters want,” Sean McElwee, a New York-based Democratic activist and pollster, told Insider. “Iowa gave us very little, meaning we are potentially going into Super Tuesday with five viable candidates.”
David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, told MSNBC that “we may be witnessing the last Iowa caucus.”
Prominent Democrats similarly condemned the chaos in Iowa.
“It’s become clear that this Iowa caucus has been a total mess,”said Julián Castro, who dropped out of the race and endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren last month. “It’s been a complete failure.”
Castro has become a vocal proponent of reforming the presidential nominating process so that Iowa, a conservative state and one of the least racially diverse in the country, doesn’t go first.
Others, though, urged calm.
“It’s important to keep in mind that accuracy is of utmost priority and there is a proper trail system,” Adrienne Elrod, a former representative for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, told Insider. “The system is working – it’s just taking longer than initially anticipated.”
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