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The Iowa caucuses were a mess. Here's what happens now.

Pete Buttigieg declared victory. Bernie Sanders released unverified partial results. And we still don’t have a winner.

By Dan Desai Martin - February 04, 2020
Iowa Caucus

Americans woke up Tuesday morning still not knowing who won Monday’s Iowa Democratic caucuses. The results of the first in the nation selection process were delayed as officials worked to validate the outcome.

“It’s a mess,” Roger Lau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign manager, said Monday night. “I think that every single second that passes where we don’t get a final result is concerning.”

According to Vox, some Iowa volunteers were unable to download and/or use a new app to report precinct results to the state party headquarters. When unable to use the app, many volunteers called the state party to report results, but the overwhelmed phone lines resulted in many volunteers unable to get through, or being left on hold for long periods of time.

“The Iowa Democratic Party has egg on its face right now,” Jeremy Mayer, associate professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It was a huge own-goal.”

The Iowa Democratic Party “found inconsistencies” in some of the results from precincts around the state, Mandy McClure, Iowa Democratic Party communications director, said in a late Monday statement. McClure said it was “simply a reporting issue,” initially denying that the app used by volunteers was hacked or malfunctioned.

A Tuesday morning statement from Iowa Democratic Chair Tony Price confirmed that the app had malfunctioned, reporting only partial data.

Unlike previous years, the Iowa Democratic Party is reporting three separate results this year: The winner of the most state delegates; the raw initial vote totals, called the initial alignment; and the raw vote totals of the final alignment. (Read more about the Iowa caucus process here.)

So what happens now?

Iowa Democratic Party fixes its app to collect full data

In Price’s statement, he said that the issue with the reporting app was fixed, but that Iowa Democratic Party staff resorted to manually entering data, which caused a delay in reporting results.

According to Price, some precincts were still reporting data to party headquarters on Tuesday morning.

What if they can’t fix it?

This year, Iowa caucus-goers were required to fill out cards listing the candidate they supported. Even without the reporting app, Iowa Democrats are confident they will be able to report out the full results.

“Because of the required paper documentation, we have been able to verify that the data recorded in the app and used to calculate State Delegate Equivalents is valid and accurate,” Price said.

When will the results be called?

According to Price, the party plans to release results “as soon as possible today [Tuesday],” adding that his ultimate goal “is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld.”

What next?

Even though there were no results, many of the candidates gave nationally televised speeches to their supporters.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg seemed to declare victory in his speech, despite a lack of results. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign released unofficial, unverified results from 40% of Iowa precincts, which showed Sanders leading. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar rallied their supporters, each indicating their campaign had a successful night.

By Tuesday morning, according to the Post, many candidates were already in New Hampshire, the next state to vote in the Democratic primary calendar. That primary will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

While there was no clear winner on Monday evening, “the big loser was Iowa itself,” Mayer added on Tuesday, noting the chaos will embolden those who seek to remove Iowa from its first in the nation status.

A clear winner would be preferable to these muddled results, Mayer said. The current situation is “exactly what people who care about the health of our democracy did not need.”

Mayer also said he “absolutely anticipates” lingering doubts about the validity of the Iowa results and worries the story will stay in the background even as the campaigns move forward.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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