This past week, two of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates declared themselves the winners of the Iowa caucus. The Iowa Democratic Party declared nothing at all.
The Iowa caucus is the first round of primaries during the presidential election cycle. Usually, the final vote is counted within a few hours after the caucus begins; however, this year, partially due to the technical faults of a newly implemented app, the vote was delayed by more than three days.
The results for the 1,765 precincts were supposed to be submitted through the app, but instead, only about a quarter of those precincts used the app to report their final votes. With a reported lack of training along with connectivity failures, many precincts found themselves unable to report their final vote count. Caucus chairs who were unable to download or properly use the app attempted to call the Iowa caucus hotline, which quickly became overwhelmed with calls from both the precincts and individuals attempting to stall the process. Additionally, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reported unspecified “coding issues” with the app’s pilot run during the caucus that created inconsistencies in the vote tallies.
Partial results were released on Tuesday afternoon, with 62% of precincts reporting. As of Friday Afternoon, 99% of precincts were reporting with Sanders closing in on Buttigieg, narrowing it to a 0.1% lead by Buttigieg. Buttigieg has claimed 13 delegates, with Sanders claiming 12, Warren claiming eight, Biden claiming six, and Klobuchar claiming one. Sanders also maintained a significant lead over the rest of the candidates in terms of the popular vote, garnering support from 24.8% of reported caucus-goers.
Monday night, Buttigieg claimed victory in the caucus with 0% of precincts reporting. Thursday, Sanders claimed victory over the popular vote. Iowa Democratic officials have yet to claim a definitive victor, with DNC Chair Tom Perez calling for a recanvass of Monday’s caucus as concerns over vote count inconsistencies grew.
The implications of this presidential cycle’s failed Iowa caucus cannot be overlooked. Because of the delayed results, the winner of the caucus was denied the paramount publicity that comes with victory in the first real vote of the presidential cycle. No prime time television victory speech, no next-day front-page headline, no exciting chatter about the first official “frontrunner” of the Democratic race. Instead, the major publicity surrounding the caucus is almost entirely focused on the faults of the new system instituted by the Iowa Democrats, leaving the integrity and competence of the DNC to be questioned by an already divided party.