On February 3 2020, Iowa Democratic caucuses took place, and soon it turned into a complete disaster. A series of screw-ups and digital malfunction caused so much confusion and delay in the reporting of the results that bewildered a nation and frustrated the candidates.
WHAT ARE PRIMARIES AND CAUCUSES?
Both Republicans and Democrats engage in presidential primaries and caucuses to select a nominee to represent their party in General Election. Every 4 years, each American state holds either a primary election or a caucus to choose that state’s top Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Iowa is the first among the 50 states to hold the caucuses.
Primaries are run by states’ governments. In primary elections, registered voters go to polling places to cast ballots and choose their candidate.
Caucuses are run by political parties. Caucus goers, gather at local caucus meetings to discuss and vote on the candidate. In some caucuses, secret ballots are cast, in others, people openly show support for their favorite candidate and may ask others to join them.
Caucus goers in Iowa gather in groups, in their local precincts, to show support for their chosen candidate. If after the first round of grouping, a candidate doesn’t have 15% support, he is considered non-viable and supporters in their group must either join another candidate’s group or convince caucus goers in other groups to join theirs until 15% threshold is reached.
When the voting is finished, a final headcount is conducted for all precinct, and the candidate with the most delegates is declared the winner.
IOWA DEM CAUCUSES 2020
This year, technical issues caused chaos at Iowa Democratic caucuses. Officials said they found “inconsistencies” in the results because of a “reporting issue” and refused to publish the results.
It all started when the DNC (Democratic National Committee) decided to forgo the conventional way, and use an app instead. An app called “IowaRecorder” which was blamed for this debacle, developed by a company called “Shadow Inc.” which created so much uproar and controversy for many reasons. There had never been any training for using the app for many precinct chairs and People had difficulty logging in or downloading it. In addition, it was soon reported that Pete Buttigieg’s campaign (one of the Dem candidates), had contributed $42,500 to the “Shadow” company for some services.
While 0% of the precincts were reporting the results, Pete Buttigieg took to twitter and declared himself the winner of Iowa Caucuses: “By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious. #IowaCaucuses “
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is also called “Mayor Pete” held a rally and announced himself victorious: “Iowa, you have shocked the nation” he said.
Bernie Sanders also predicted that “he did very well” and gave a victory speech at his rally.
Buttigieg’s actions resulted in people criticizing the alleged conflict of interest and it gave rise to a number of conspiracy theories online, which accused the Democratic Party of corruption and favoring Pete Buttigieg. Soon, the hashtag “Mayor Cheat” was trending on twitter.
Sean Savett, a spokesman for the Pete’s campaign told PolitiFact that the contract with Shadow Inc, was for the “software rights and subscriptions, text message services to help contact the voters” and it was “totally unrelated to the app built for the caucuses.”
THE RESULTS ARE IN
Finally, after a three-day delay, the results were published and showed Pete Buttigieg in the lead, with 13 delegates (and 564 State Delegate equivalents). Bernie Sanders in the second place with 12 delegates (and 561 state delegate equivalents) and former Vice President Joe Biden came in 4th with 6 delegates. A surprisingly disappointing performance, which he called a “gut punch”.
On February 12, Iowa Democratic Party chairman, Troy Price, tendered his resignation effective immediately.
On the Republican side, President Donald Trump was the uncontested winner of Iowa Republican Caucuses, winning 39 delegates (97.1% of votes), while his biggest rival, Bill Weld received 1 delegate (1.3%).
New Hampshire primaries, took place on February 11, 2020. Senator Bernie Sanders won the primary with 25.6% of the vote and 9 delegates. Mayor Pete came in second place with 24.3% pf the vote and 9 delegates. However, the surprise of the night was the surge of Senator Amy Klobuchar, the moderate midwestern Democrat from the state of Minnesota, who came in 3rd with 19.7% of the votes and 6 delegates.
This unexpected rise resulted in some observers coining the word “Klobmentum”, which is a portmanteau of “Klobuchar” and “momentum”. Former VP Joe Biden completely underperformed in New Hampshire, with only 8.4% of votes, and gaining 0 delegates.
On Republicans’ side, President Donald Trump won the primary with 85.6 percent of the vote and gained all the state’s 22 delegates. Hence, resulting in Bill Weld getting 0 delegates, despite winning 9.1% of the votes.