Iowa Makes us Wait
We do not have results yet.
I do not know what the exact problems are in regards to the Iowa caucuses, save that they are having trouble collecting and reporting results due to new processes and procedures instituted this year. Part of this includes a new app as well as a promise to report the popular vote along with the delegate counts.
There is a lot of angst and drama over this at the moment. Can I take this moment to point out, again, that we are talking about a process to select 41 out of 4,750 pledged delegates? The outcomes of this event are only significant because of the vast media focus that has grown around this process. Being first makes it important! and made it into a made-for-TV event last night. Plus, since so many people have invested so much emotion into their candidates, not knowing the results last night was profoundly disappointing.
While slow reporting has changed the media narrative at the moment, the degree to which it really matters is another issue. Mathematically the odds that the Iowa results themselves be significant at the convention are quite low.
In many ways, people are upset because the show was anti-climatic last night.
Perhaps all of this will lead to a reconsideration of the wisdom of using people milling about in gymnasiums in search of hitting 15% as a way to launch the selection process to fill the most powerful office on Earth.
More when I know more (and have time to digest it).
I have to admit: I don’t mind one bit that tiny, unrepresentative Iowa does not get the chance to set the path for the nominee. (But, of course, that feeling is blunted that now tiny, unrepresentative New Hampshire gets to do so).
“we may be witnessing the last Iowa caucus.” -David Plouffe
Pfui. The Iowas caucuses are always chaotic. Things happen. Keep calm and carry on.
Why don’t they just hold a damn primary like everyone else?
Reasonable person: This is such a stupid way to begin the nomination process for such an important office.
Rest of the country: We’ve always done it this way.
RP: Yes, but consider-
RoC: We’ve always done it this way!
RP: Granted, but-
RoC: WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY!
RP: I understand that. But-
RoC: Why do you hate America?
OK…time for this Caucus BS to go away.
The pictures on the news of the delegates and precinct leaders…sure doesn’t seem representative of any where I’ve lived in the US. Looks like the senior living communities in my town. Hopefully this is the last year of caucuses.
One can dream.
Indeed. I did not have time to look it up, but if memory serves, there was a GOP delay last time and the final delegate numbers often change over time.
@Mike: if the voting demographics resembled the country’s demographics we’d be in better shape.
We have long, dark winters, summers clouded with mosquitoes, Lyme disease, and don’t get the tourist dollars that nearby Maine and Vermont get.
The primaries are pretty much a saving grace** for us, please don’t take it away…*
*Yes, I know all of the arguments. I also know that the state is dedicated to maintaining FITN status, so I don’t see it changing–at least not in the near future. At least we take it seriously.
**We do have the tax-free state liquor stores, so there is that.
Oh NOOOOOOOOOOOOOES! It’s been a whole *12* hrs and I STILL don’t know????
**less than 12? I really don’t pay much attention to them at all.
I’ll bet the shelves are bare by the end of primary day.
Nice to see you back again.
@Jen: You’re back! Or have you been back and I missed it? Either way, glad to see your name pop up!
And the “good” fireworks.
But any state that let’s it’s State Emblem fall down is suspect!!!
As a resident of Mass. just over the border from Salem, I cannot begin to express my esteem for the NH state liquor commission.
I think it’s all moot at this point. Any results that the IA Dems report will immediately be denied by underperforming candidates, and to be honest, those denials will have some credibility. The campaigns have all moved to NH. This debacle will soak up a couple of news cycles, and hopefully spell then end of the IA caucus, but that should be about it.
Wow, thanks to you both! I’ve been crazy-busy with work and travel for the past few months. Just now getting back to a semblance of equilibrium.
I have no idea who is going to win the primary here. It’s been a really strange season–I’m not even seeing that many signs in public byways, where normally they pop up like mushrooms after a spring rain. I have no idea what to make of any of it.
When 21st century tools meet XVIII century customs, you kind of expect the modern technology to win.
@OzarkHillbilly: Ha, yes–but, to be fair, they are also bare if there’s even a hint of a snowstorm coming. Normal people run for bread & milk, in NH we go for the case discount on wine.
@Jen: Ha! Funny you should mention that, I ordered a case of wine (it all has to come from the state distributor in Cheyenne) last week to prepare for this storm that’s now heading east, and it’s been stuck on I-80 since Friday. I’m sure by now it’s frozen, it’s -20 here this morning. 🙁
My wife went off to poll worker training this morning in preparation for Tuesday’s primary. I suggested she ask if NH will be using an app.
The only thing automated on election day in Cow Hampshire will be the vote counting (optical scanner). Several nice, neighbor lady seniors will be sitting at long tables with thick print outs of the voter rolls. They’ll check your ID and cross your name off the list w/a ruler and writing implement. Then hand you a chit that you’ll use to redeem you ballot, which is completed in pencil, then slid into the scanner. Pretty much fool proof, but then there was Durkin-Wymann.
Can we use math to aim a satellite with such precision it will drop into orbit around a planet 500 million miles away? Oh, sure.
Can we use math to count votes in Podunk? Some day. We can dream.
I’m not seeing any signs in northeastern Mass, either. Even the few Tulsi Gabbard signs around these parts a few months ago seem to have vanished.
While we’re in full agreement on the silliness of it all, that very faux significance creates real significance precisely because we pretend it does.
I was listening to the NYT Daily podcast on the way in. They focused on the process in one tiny precinct where Buttigieg and, especially, Klobuchar did very, very well while Biden was eliminated for falling under 15% on the first ballot. If that were replicated statewide, we might well spend several days asking What’s wrong with Biden? and Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who aren’t even double digits in the national polls, would suddenly be treated as having a shot.
[Reposted from open forum]
FWIW, I predict that the media will give a pass to the ultimate cause of the Iowa confusion: Bernie Sanders. But for the record, the changes instituted that led to the untested computer programs were all done at the behest of Bernie. It’s what he expended his political capital on after his epic loss in 2016, as he stewed and sputtered about how evil Hillary had outplayed him in Iowa. (She must have cheated!) The caucus rule changes he was able to ramrod through guaranteed confusion and disarray, to the point that 11 of the 14 caucus states changed to a primary this year, because they feared exactly this outcome. If Iowa had been sensible, they would have changed over too, but that would have risked their first in the nation status. So they soldiered on, convincing themselves and the media that they could make it work under the new rules.
@Sleeping Dog: How are things looking where you are–you’re toward the seacoast, is that right?
That’s pretty much how it works in my wee hamlet in NH, except we are handed a paper ballot, which we then take to a booth/table and fill in the ovals with black magic markers–same use of an optical scanner.
I have yet to have anyone explain to me how there could be massive voter fraud here on the level that Trump claimed. In towns like mine, the town clerk has interacted with virtually everyone over 18 in town–she’s the same person that we all go to to register our cars. In addition to showing ID and having your name crossed off on the (paper) list, with yes, a ruler–the people running things pretty much know every voter. It’s different in cities, sure, but even in the larger towns voting is a pretty hands-on process here.
Speaking as a technology person, Iowa didn’t need new technology. A mobile app for reporting results was an unnecessary risk. It’s hard to tell from the WaPo reporting this morning exactly why the app failed, but that’s a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking for people who care about software issues.
According to this list, there are still more than 3 caucuses.
I know it’s more complex than that, some states have both caucus and primary, sometimes the caucus is just advisory (a beauty contest sort of).
The Green Papers are a great resource.
ETA: I did see a story elsewhere there only about half as many caucuses for 2020 as for 2016.
The brand-new app for reporting didn’t work–it refused to recognize people’s PINs–and then when the precinct workers attempted to phone in the results, the lines were jammed. This may be the very definition of a clusterfuck.
To be fair, we also sometimes get our metric and imperial units confused and splash a fabulously expensive delicate instrument all over Mars. I suspect Iowa has a better batting average than NASA overall.
There are fewer, better known, and easier to control, variables in sending a probe to another planet, either for a fly-by, orbit, or landing, than there are in any kind of electoral event. the former just requires more complicated math.
This mayoral race story has been on our main TV station’s web page for at least a week now.
To be fair, coverage today is all about the primary, but up until today, coverage has been sparse. I haven’t received any polling calls (last presidential cycle we got at least a half dozen by this point). It really has felt like an oddly quiet primary season–even with an incumbent on the ballot.
@Jen: I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for NH, now I know why.
@James Joyner: without a doubt the significance is wholly a created thing. And I agree that it is real.
I would love it if this all causes a collective stepping back to make us aka why we have created this thing, but I expect it won’t.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Whenever the question is, “Will we learn from this?” the safe answer is always, “Nah.”
Just F**king No!
Chris Matthews spoke for me last night:
This is a freaking joke, and all it does is help Trump. Sorry, but I’m pissed. Really pissed. Iowa isn’t even representative of this country, and to give them this much power is f**king ridiculous.
Get rid of caucuses. Period. They’re undemocratic.
Looks like the results will be no later than 5p EST.
Yet another missed opportunity. They should plan to release during the SOTU address.
Isn’t the important part that everyone ran, tried their best, and had a good time? In a way, isn’t everyone a winner?
It’s certainly no worse than the 2012 Republican Iowa Caucus where Mittens Romney was declared the winner, then two weeks later Rick Santorum was declared the winner, and then Ron Paul locked up the vast majority of the delegates at the state convention.
There’s learning, then there’s applying what you’ve learned.
For instance, no matter whether your vote counting/reporting system is new or tried and trusted, you should have a backup system in place because things can always go wrong.
But that costs money.
I say we form a 3rd party:
The Ruthlessly Competent Party.
It’s long past time we abandoned the entire crotchety infrastructure and ancient power brokers of the current wheezing, calamitous Democratic party machine.
Time for a hard shakedown of some big money donors for the pile of funds needed to hire a handful of most exceptionally brilliant, wickedly ruthless young MFr’s to pilot an all new Democratic party apparatus – a newly fierce and merciless ship of war.
Does anyone the planet think there’s a reason to keep Tom Perez in the driver’s seat for more than another hour or two?1
Exactly who is it that see’s this guy on T.V. and walks away confident the party is in good hands?
For christ’s sake look at what we do to ourselves – Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donna Brazile, Ed Rendell, Terry McAuliffe, Tom Perez!!
I can only assume Howdy Doody wasn’t available for one of those tenures.
And, does anyone in the Democratic party -not- want our own Brad Parscale, shiv in hand, running the show behind the scenes like a little mafia kingpin? Given untold Koch/Adelson/Singer/Mercer millions and told simply – Ger ‘er Done! (and we don’t want to know where the bodies are buried)
And from this:
I suppose the delegate count from South Dakota/Wyoming will not amount to much.
@charon: I stand corrected. To be more clear, there were 14 states with Democratic caucuses in 2016, and only 3 in 2020 (Iowa, Nevada and North Dakota).
As you point out, caucuses are still more common in US protectorates and territories
@Michael Reynolds: I think you are looking at this the wrong way. It’s not counting that’s hard, it’s retaining the ability to verify that the values stored in memory are directly and irrefutably traceable to actual people making votes, all while keeping a secret ballot. That’s a nearly insurmountable problem, at least with today’s technology.
Here is an easy to read list of delegates by date:
Similar info in nice graphic format:
@MarkedMan: The caucus doesn’t have a secret ballot. In fact, you want the votes to be public so they can be verified.
Paula in Podunk can verify what her precinct did. And if there’s a discrepancy, she can raise a flag. (Trusting 6,000 polling workers to type numbers correctly… there will be some errors)
This takes away the hardest part.
The rest is… not trivial, but no harder than a shopping cart.
One of the top stories at mediaite.com is about how an Iowa caucus-goer discovered, to her shock and horror, that Pete Buttigieg is…gay. No kidding. The woman demands her signed card for Buttigieg be given back to her. She further states that “someone like that” doesn’t belong in the White House.
Where do they find these people? What kind of brainless idiot didn’t know till last night that PB is gay?
She cites Biblical reasons for her objections to him.
I cannot even–HOW, how, how does this happen? How asleep at the switch does someone need to be to miss that?
I feel like we’re moments away from a Truman Show reveal. The Jim Carey movie, not Truman the rescue dog adopted by the gay couple who has one member of it running for president…
From the AP’s Twitter
At least 50%.
Ha ha ha ha. Such a fucking shit show.
This would be a lot more stressful if I wasn’t willing to vote for whoever gets the nomination. I think the big winner is Corey Booker.
I know. I’ve watched the video 3 times because I can’t believe what I’m seeing and hearing on it. I think the woman says, quite huffily, at one point that she can’t believe that no one told her about Buttigieg being gay. No one told her???? Did she not hear a thing the man said? Ever?
@CSK: Just think of the leverage that one vote had as it is magnified through a caucus system in a minor state, pushed by a media momemtum story and onward. Yet that one vote is possessed by someone who is massively uninformed (or a plant).
I try never to dismiss data out of hand, all true data (and some false as well) can be useful in reaching understanding.
It’s not nothing if Biden trails in fourth place. It goes to an inability to inspire a generally older, generally more moderate voter base, which should be a sweet spot for him, and perhaps also an inability to organize. Added to his weak fundraising, it’s not exactly reassuring.
If the results are close to what we’re getting through the rumor mill, it also means the polls in Iowa were not terribly useful.
Biden better put on a decent show in NH. He doesn’t have to win, but if he isn’t at least second there’ll be the stench of death hanging over him. The African-American vote in SC may hold true for him, but any evidence of weakness there and he’s done. At which point Sanders and Warren will go to war for the progressive vote, and The Party may turn it’s desperate eyes to Bloomberg.
One thing’s sure: Bloomberg was smart not to play Iowa.
@CSK: “He seems close to that Chasten guy with the same last name. They must be brothers, or cousins… and isn’t that nice? They’re roommates! And they have dogs! Ladies, these two are keepers…”
I assume she is just lying. There is no other plausible explanation.
“It’s like the Odd Couple, but they’re both Felix!”
Yeah; it’s depressing. I don’t think this woman was a plant–more a garden-variety idiot. My brother lived and worked in Iowa for a number of years, and he says the degree of self-infatuation among Iowans is astoundingly high: everything Iowan is fabulous, Iowa’s the center of the universe, Iowans are perfect, Iowans are the real Americans, blah blah blah. People who believe they were born wonderful feel no need to learn, grow, or experience a range of ideas and customs. Why should they?
I’m pretty sure the voting process is about the same all through the state. Manchester and Nashua maybe different given the population. Here the town clerk’s office has about a 1/2 dozen staffers and the populations larger ~15,000, so the Clerk won’t know nearly as many.
The only way to commit large scale voter fraud in NH would be to hack the voter registration records and add names, but then you would still be left with the problem of needing some ID at the polls.
On the lawn sign primary. Tulsi is fading, Yang and Steyer are surging, Biden is invisible, Warren is holding her own and Bernie sign count doesn’t reflect his polling numbers. Pete is holding steady and Amy has seen a bump. Perhaps voters have not made up their minds, but the number of lawn signs seems down from past primaries.
Certainly there’s another explanation. To wit: She’s a self-involved idiot. See my response to Scott above.
@MarkedMan: Just so. My years of experience in industry taught me that, when you have a process that works well only under optimum conditions, don’t do anything to add unknowns to the equation – such as rely on a smartphone app. On the positive side, there have been renewed calls for Iowa to lose its “first in the nation” status in 2024 and thereafter.
The Washington Examiner had a piece the other day on recent SC polling and Biden seems to be fading there with his % of the AA vote down to about 30%, with both Bernie and Warren gaining support. To the poor fund raising, lack of enthusiasm and organizing you can add not presenting a reason to vote for him. Among the moderates, Pete, Amy, Bloomie, Yang and Steyer are all giving Dems reasons to vote for them while Biden is offering a return to Obamaism.
This is what I feel too. I wonder if the general lack of enthusiasm–that’s what it feels like to me–is going to affect turnout.
Not that long ago I read an article (I think in Politico) by the guy who coined the term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). He noted that in the piece in which he coined the term he also noted the existence of FOBO (Fear of a Better Option). Meaning, people are reluctant to make a choice sometimes because they think a better option might come along.
I think that’s a fair explanation, but delusional on the part of voters if that’s what’s going on. It feels like a psychology experiment where at first there was too much choice, and now that there’s less choice (fewer candidates) Democratic voters are still flailing around looking for someone perfect to come in on a white horse (or in this case, unicorn).
The big hurdle in getting Iowa to change from caucus to primary will be money. Caucuses are cheap and paid for by the parties. A primary requires the state and counties to spend a few million dollars to bring all of the machinery and process required by statute to conduct an election to bear. Unless they’re willing to attach the presidential process to their other primaries in June.
@Michael Cain: And, tied up in the money question is that they would also lose their “first caucus” status. New Hampshire would then be first-first. Right now Iowa is “first caucus” and NH is “first primary.”
There’s a fair amount of money tied to that too–everything from restaurants to hotels count on the dollars that being “first” brings in. Sort of a weird form of tourist dollars.
The Iowa caucuses don’t work that way. A bunch of people gather in a room. There are shows of hands for each candidate running. People who support the same candidate group together.
If a candidate is not supported by 15% of those attending, that candidate is eliminated from the reckoning and they regroup. Lather, rinse, repeat.
That is a gross oversimplification of the process but it’s roughly it. It’s more like picking a dodgeball team than it an election.
The old Wayfarer in Bedford used to be the place for candidates to stay.
There is a lot of research that shows that many choices are not a good thing and too often leads to analysis paralysis. I do believe that there will be many making their decision while looking a the ballot.
People and candidates will not be paying much attention to SC this year, as it is only 3 days before Super Tuesday, too close for momentum to matter much. Candidates will be working the big states with lots of delegates.
Here is a thread with a plausible explanation of what happened. Basically, inadequate identification security allowed bad people to introduce bad data to pollute the result reporting. So, need to revert to manual counting to get results.
I’m holding off on blaming this on griefers — until we have confirmation of significant hacking.
Most of the folks I know in the civic tech space think it’s a much simpler explanation: hubris — an excess of promises and not enough design (both in terms of the app and the broader ecosystem it operated within). There’s a pretty well established pattern of these issues happening over and over — especially with for-profit firms working in the civic tech space.
Zeynep Tufekci writing in the Atlantic perfectly explains things:
This seems far more likely than hacking. Further, even if the system was being hacked in places, the service designers failed to adequately staff a back-up solution (because technology). There also has been some concerns that there was no official verified training requirement for caucus leaders. Which only exacerbated the issue.
According to WaPo, first numbers drop — 62% reporting
Bernie Sanders 26.3 28,220 —
Pete Buttigieg 25.1 27,030 —
Elizabeth Warren 20.7 22,254 —
Joe Biden 13.2 14,176 —
Amy Klobuchar 12.4 13,357
Biden is down in Klobuchar territory.
According to the Boston Globe, so far it’s Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Biden, Klobuchar, and Yang.
It is sad to see Iowa have such an outsized influence. So far the top two are the two I dislike the most. Maybe Bloomberg is into something (and I really think his Trump bashing ads are superior).
CNN says Buttigieg has a narrow lead over Sanders. Warren, Biden, and Klobuchar follow in that order.
@mattbernius: I think this falls into Ye Olde Standard Explanation:
Well, it seems El Cheeto of the immaculate wisdom went and got himself impeached for nothing.
Think about it. he went and detained military aid to an ally, had to engage in a clumsy cover-up, caused a House investigation, further damaged the fabric of government, obstructed the House’s oversight prerogatives, and further corrupted the republican party and the Senate.
All for nothing.
Oh, sure. Biden may rally and win in NH and who knows where else, and get the nomination. But I don’t think it’s likely.
Maybe he can get some other country to investigate Buttigieg.
Fascinating! I’m trying to think of a set of criteria that would separate Bernie and Mayor Pete cleanly from the rest of the crowd, and failing. That’s not intended as any kind of criticism or argument — it’s just that they tend to fall at opposite ends of most of the scales I can think of.
If you don’t mind, I’d be very interested in hearing what places those two at the bottom for you. Is it an electability thing? I could see that… but surely Yang would rank even lower?
By all accounts, not a good day for Joe Biden.
I think he’s a good man, and I would support him over at least half our field, but I don’t think he’s got the fire in his belly.
I think some of our best candidates have already exited the race because Biden sucked the air out of the room. I am, of course, referring to Hickenlooper, Booker, Bullock, Bennet and Marianne Williamson, with various degrees of seriousness.
But the debate schedule was designed to winnow out candidates before voting began, and I think that’s a mistake. And the compressed primary is designed to get to a nominee quickly, which I also think is a mistake.
I’d prefer debates start in January, voting in February, and two states a week for a decent slog, and finish off the remaining states in May.
Are we well and truly fucked? Are we doomed to another 4 years or more of the trash in the White House? Are things as bleak as they appear…
@An Interested Party: Maybe. I mean, about two months ago, I gave up on the Presidential portion and started focusing on the Senate. Even if we’re stuck with Trump for another 4 years, at least we can actually throw his ass out on his ear if we have both arms of Congress. And Pence won’t get much better traction. Plus then we’ve had 8 years of Trumpiness, and people are gonna be really pissed.
@DrDaveT: Electabilty for sure but it is more than that- perhaps the word is temperament- Imho Sanders is pretty one dimensional and has not been very loyal to the party- Pete comes across as condescending. On the issues I tend to be center left which is basically all the candidates- so I don’t see a lot difference between them.