“Iowa, you have shocked the nation.”–Pete Buttigieg
Truer words were never spoken, although not for the reasons Buttigieg may have meant.
Iowa once again unleashed an 18-layer clusterfuck cake in the results for their caucasian-caucus (CNN correspondents showed various caucus sites around the state, and I almost got snow-blindness from all the bland, pasty crowds). While CNN interviewed The Least Interesting Men (and Women) in the world, they tried to stress the magnitude and gravity of what was taking place–hoping to wring excitement from an Iowa corn husk. To be honest, most of the men and women they were talking to looked like they couldn’t care less.
Amazingly, there still seemed to be a lot of undecideds, and even the hardcores looked like they’d rather be somewhere else. “But surely you understand the weight of the decision you’re about to deliver to America,” and Iowa’s response was: a huge, echoing fart of indifference and incompetence as the state party had not declared a winner or released any results as of 2 a.m. eastern time (when I’m writing this).
Of course, this is nothing new for Iowa. Back in 2012, their Republican caucus declared the wrong winner. [Rick Santorum’s victory over Mitt Romney made no difference since Romney had already won New Hampshire before anyone found out. At that point, it was like “well, that’s nice Rick.”] Back in 2016, Hillary squeaked out a win over Bernie in a vote that was so suspiciously close so as to fuel speculation that the DNC was rigging it for her (more on that later). And now they’ve topped themselves yet again by not releasing any results, declaring no winner, being openly questioned by at least one campaign (Biden’s campaign says the results are illegitimate…in the absence of results), and the state Democratic Party essentially going into hiding, refusing to answer questions or communicate much of anything.
Apparently, this is all due to a faulty app that Iowa wanted to use to report the results, and that the app is either not working or being manipulated somehow–so they’re doing a hand count ballot instead. But the real reason is because the Iowa clusterfuck is too Goddamn complicated.
The reason they were using this new app is because Sanders pitched a shit-fit in 2016 about what was essentially a tie being counted as a win for Clinton, and the caucus changed some of the rules about how the results would be tabulated–including the popular vote this time. The “results” were actually four different sets of results: Iowa voters first picks (who they vote for when they first enter the Caucus…because apparently this shit takes all day even without a hiccup), the eventual vote once their first pick candidates who don’t clear 15% get eliminated, the delegate count (which is different than the vote), and the amount of state delegates from Iowa who are sent to the Democratic Convention.
An all-day event where people stand in separate corners of a high school gymnasium or rec center and try to woo other candidates’s supporters to their side, eventually having to clear an arbitrary 15% threshold, then counting those votes, releasing those results, then going back and doing a delegate count, then determining how many state delegates will actually get sent to the convention for each candidate.
What’s not to follow with that? vs…I don’t know, just a regular fucking primary where people take 5 minutes, cast a vote for the candidate of their choice, and we get the results sometime before midnight.
Republicans, of course, are using this debacle to stoke conspiracy theories about the DNC trying to deny “the people’s candidate,” although they never need much help in that department since an army of Bernie Bros. are only too happy to help them. But for all the people who felt the race was being manipulated in Hillary’s favor in 2016, this may feel like deja vu. Of course, it wouldn’t totally surprise me the Republicans, the Russians, or even Mike Bloomberg were the ones really responsible for this. [All three benefit from DNC chaos, and Iowa being null-and-void.]
Democrats are focusing on the fact that Iowa is too-white to determine their nominee, but the real downside is this archaic, chaotic, non-sense method of how the winner is determined. Democratic voters already have electoral college fatigue, and really just favor a simple popular vote…why would we let a state be first in the nation to vote that favors such a complicated method? Letting candidates wrestle the winner of the Iowa Hog Fair would make about as much sense.
In 2024, cancel all caucuses, do 50 primaries and be done with the damn thing. Almost all of the huge purple states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio) use primaries, and I can’t figure out why the first state in the nation to vote would use anything else.
For those suffering Iowa Anger, it might be a good time to mention the 2016 podcast episode we did called “Episode 5–Is the Winner of Iowa Really a Loser?” that mentioned how the caucus doesn’t usually predict who the eventual nominee is for the Republicans, and is only slightly better at predicting the Democratic nominee. [No wonder Bloomberg skipped this shit.]