The Iowa Democratic Party is facing the wrath of the presidential campaigns and new demands for answers after a historic debacle on caucus night that failed to provide any insight into who had won the first-in-the-nation caucuses.
The state party said it will declare the results at some point on Tuesday after finding “inconsistencies” in the reporting of the results, adding that it needed additional time to ensure the integrity of the election.
The unusually long wait, coupled with a lack of transparency during the chaotic night, angered the campaigns, which have spent tens of millions of dollars and countless hours on the ground in the Hawkeye State in the hopes that a strong showing would put their candidate on the path to the Democratic nomination.
Instead, the candidates gave vague speeches at the end of the night before flying off to New Hampshire to campaign for next week’s primary in the Granite State. Conspiracy theories flew around the internet, and cable news pundits, who had been airing live coverage for hours, were left empty-handed without any data to report.
The state party held an early-morning phone call with reporters to insist that there had been no election interference, stressing that the delay was due to the new way the results were being reported.
"They're validating every piece of data we have against our paper trail. The system is taking longer than expected, but it's in place to ensure we are eventually able to report results with full confidence,” said Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “We have said all along we have the backups in place for exactly this reason. We are updating campaigns and we will continue to provide updates as they are available.”
The state party is also using a new app, and users reported problems. One caucus secretary, Shawn Sebastian, said he called the state party because his app was not functioning. Sebastian was on hold for 90 minutes before the state party hung up on him while he was live on the air with CNN.
The bulk of the issues appear to lie in the new way votes are tallied to give three parallel results — a change that was made in the interest of transparency. The final results will include an initial vote count, a second vote count after caucusgoers for nonviable candidates are allowed to realign behind viable candidates, and a third breakdown of how many delegates each candidate won.
The final delegates tally is the number Democrats will use to determine the party’s nominee.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis MORE's (I-Vt.) campaign released its own internal data representing approximately 40 percent of the vote that showed him finishing in first place. Sanders’s results also showed former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE trailing badly.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Blumenthal calls on Buttigieg to investigate American Airlines-JetBlue partnership LGBT film festival to premiere documentary about Pete Buttigieg MORE also released his own internal numbers, which show him only slightly behind Sanders and greatly outperforming expectations.
“We don't know all the results, but we know by the time it's all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious,” Buttigieg said in a speech last night.
The problem for the top-performing candidates is that Iowa traditionally provides a boost of momentum, as the winning candidates receive a few days of glowing media coverage before the political world moves on to New Hampshire.
This time around, the nation is waking up to reports about the caucus disaster and questions about the order in which the candidates will finish.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which backs Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' The Trojan Horse of protectionism Federal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review MORE (D-Mass.), said that the delays, coupled with a spiked Des Moines Register poll from over the weekend, concealed Biden’s collapse and Warren’s strong showing.
“We are seeing the erasure of Warren rising and Biden falling with the lack of public Iowa voting results,” said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. “This follows similar erasure with the withholding of the Des Moines Register poll that reportedly showed the same dynamics. It is huge news that bold progressives showed great strength while the conservative establishment front-runner fell. Elizabeth Warren exceeded expectations and is now in a spirited three-way race with Buttigieg and Sanders.”
The Biden campaign, meanwhile, is going all-in to question the veracity of the election and the final results once they are released.
Dana Remus, the general counsel for the Biden campaign, sent a letter to the state party demanding “full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released.”
Political watchers speculated that this might be the end of Iowa’s protected status as the first state to vote and the end of the caucuses, which could be replaced by primaries.
Several former Democratic presidential candidates have vented frustration that Iowa, which is more than 90 percent white, is not reflective of the Democratic Party.
And there were concerns with the caucus process going into Monday night.
Cable news outlets and networks broadcast the caucuses live, revealing first-hand the peculiarities of the process and the unique difficulties in caucusgoers face as they move between the massive field of contenders.
The process can be confusing. Some of the precincts broke ties through coin tosses or drew names out of a hat. There were reports of some caucusgoers arriving late and being locked out, while others had to leave early because they had to return to work or their families and could not commit to staying at the caucus site for hours on end.