• Giovanni Alvarado

Chaos and Confusion Amid Buttigieg, Sanders and Trump Victory at the Iowa Caucuses

Large crowds, media excitement, yelling your heart out for your candidate, nostalgia begins to build, 2020 in the political world is officially finally here. This Monday, the first state that voted in the primary season was the Iowa Caucus, a notable swing state in the Midwest with a population of 3,155,070 that could help tip the election in favor of either candidate in a general election with its 6 electoral votes. However, out of those 3,155,070 people, only about 170,000 showed up to the polls. Many news outlets like The New York Times, NBC and CNN suggested that polling of high Democratic turnout would reflect the 2008 record number of 240,000 people, due to the recent high enthusiasm of the 2018 midterms, but that did not end up being the case at the end of the day. But perhaps what was the biggest disappointment of the Iowa Caucuses, was that 62% of “partial” results weren’t able to be seen until the next day on Tuesday evening with no official “clear winner.” Even today, 4 days later, only 97% of the results is available to be seen. This leaves a major disappoint of not only being first state to vote in the primary season, but leaving a major setback to the candidates running that intended to deliver a victory speech to gain momentum for the rest of the year. Though no “clear” official winner has been confidently called due to the full results yet to be revealed, the candidates on Monday night did thank their supporters and each gave a “pre-victory” speech looking forward to the results and next New Hampshire Primary.

So just what was it that drove the Iowa Democratic Caucus to chaos and confusion when all was said and done? It was all thanks to the two mobile app companies known as Shadow and Acronym which helped with the tallying of votes being counted in Iowa’s precincts. The apps were originally intended to help speed up the process and assist in making things easier, but of course, the opposite occurred. Several news outlets on Monday night struggled with the reporting of no results being publicly released by the Iowa Democratic Party, as a result, no winner was called on Monday night, marking for the first time in modern history for the Iowa caucus to wait for a whole week for the final results. Many blame the developers of the companies, claiming that possible “tampering” or “shady tactics” could have been involved, but this is yet to be proved. The Iowa Democratic Party’s Director Mandy McClure releases a statement late Monday night stating “We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems beings used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.” According to The Intercept, Kyle Tharp, a spokesperson for Acronym, released a statement on Monday night downplaying his company’s affiliation with Shadow. “ACRONYM is an investor in several for-profit companies across the progressive media and technology sectors,” Tharp said. “One of those independent, for-profit companies is Shadow, Inc, which also has other private investors.” The Nevada Democratic Caucus that will take place on Saturday February 22nd, 2020 also had originally planned to use the same app companies for their counting of votes, but the Nevada Democratic Party announced that they will no longer use the same system as Iowa did.

Momentum is a key factor in winning both the Democratic and Republican primary in order to win your party’s nomination in the summer, because this shows that you have what it takes to not only be a formidable opponent in the primary election season, but a strong candidate to be faced in the general election in November. So overall, who won the majority of the Iowa Caucuses? According to the Associated Press as of Thursday February 6th, 2020, on the Democratic side, both Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana) with 26.2 % of the vote and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) with 26.1% of the vote received 11 delegates, coming in at 2nd Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) with 18.2% of the vote received 5 delegates, in third place former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) with 15.8% of the vote received 2 delegates and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) with 12.2% of the vote received 1 delegate. The only 2 Democratic candidates that did not receive any delegates but received votes were former tech executive Andrew Yang (D-New York) with 1% of the vote and Billionaire Tom Steyer (D-California) with 0.3% of the vote. This comes as a blow to the former vice president who lead in Iowa several months back when he first announced his run in late April of last year. Both Buttigieg and Sanders have now set the stage to be serious opponents in the long run, with Buttigieg splitting the moderate vote with Biden and Sanders with the progressive vote with Warren.

But the Democrats weren’t the only ones that had a caucus vote, the Republicans with President Trump having his own challengers had one as well. Unlike last time in 2016 where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Iowa Republican Caucus, Trump had the edge going into Iowa. As expected, Trump was on point to sweep Iowa according to several polls, with the official results of him having a whopping 97.1% of the vote receiving almost all of Iowa’s 40 delegates, in the end 39. The other sole 1 delegate left went to former moderate Republican governor Bill Weld (R-Massachusetts) with 1.3% of the vote. Former Representative Joe Walsh (R-Illinois) did not receive any delegates with just with 1.1% of the vote. This tells us President Trump is still very popular in his party, beyond his staunch base of supporters. It is very likely he is on point to win again his party’s nomination and receive majority of endorsements from Republican congressman in Washington. Whether or not Weld or Walsh will stick around longer down the road is still unclear, but with Weld’s surprising 1 delegate victory, he could take opportunity to stick around and see how things play out in several more states yet to vote.

The next state to vote will be the New Hampshire Democratic/Republican Primary that will take place next Tuesday February 11th, 2020. According to polling by many media outlets, Sanders is on point to win for the Democrats while Trump in the Republican primary. This will be significant because this is where the delegate count will start to add up with Iowa’s and either show a candidate’s strong momentum or comeback.

If anything we learned from Iowa this past week, is that the Iowa caucuses could be seen to be extinct as early as the next primary election in 2024 in replacement for a traditional primary voting system, after the embarrassing handling of the caucus itself and releasing of results on time. But most importantly, we all learned that organization is always important in anything we do, especially when it involves a serious issue such as voting in an election.

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