Is the Iowa caucus dead?
The nation’s first contest in presidential elections, the Iowa caucus has long drawn floods of campaign staff and media attention as political parties try to winnow out their primary field.
“This fiasco means the end of the caucuses as a significant American political event. The rest of the country was already losing patience with Iowa anyway and this cooks Iowa’s goose. Frankly, it should,” David Yepsen, a famed and former Des Moines Register columnist told Politico.
Monday’s Democratic caucus was fraught with chaos as the Iowa Democratic Party delayed releasing official results due to widespread reporting problems amid new rules and a new app.
“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” Mandy McClure, communications director for the state party, said in the statement.
With New Hampshire’s primary and news of the president’s State of the Union address and impeachment trial all around the corner, the weight of the results may be lost and Iowa’s status as the bellwether state in question.
“The clock’s ticking,” said Iowa strategist Jeff Link, who is unaligned with a Democratic campaign. “Everyone wants to know what happened here tonight. But soon what’s going to happen next will take over.”
Kurt Meyer, chairman of the Tri-County Democratic Party, told NBC News he was “very worried” about the future of the caucuses.
“There were already enough pea shooters out there coming for Iowa. There were 49 other states saying, ‘Why does Iowa get to do this?'” he told NBC. “And now we just poured a gallon of kerosene on what was a smoldering ember.”
The lack of results on caucus night also drew the complaints from the campaigns. Candidates scrambled to take the stage and spin the non-results as victory in speeches to their supporters.
“What happened tonight made the argument for itself. Nobody can deny this is a broken way to do it. It was a total mess,” said former housing secretary Julián Castro, a surrogate for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.
Castro also said debate thresholds, the order of states holding their contests and whether a state employs a caucus versus primary should all be evaluated.
Biden’s campaign slammed the process, too, saying the “considerable flaws” holding up election results demand a complete and speedy answer.
“We appreciate that you plan to brief the campaigns momentarily on these issues, and we plan to participate,” Dana Remus, general counsel for the former vice president’s campaign, wrote in a letter to the party Monday as delays extended into early Tuesday morning. “However, we believe that the campaigns deserve 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,” the letter said.
Late Monday, McClure said the party had data so far from “around 25%” of the state’s 1,765 precincts, adding that “early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016.”
A number of precinct leaders reportedly had issues using a new reporting app. Polk County Democratic Chairman Sean Bagniewski told the Des Moines Register that reporting issues “became the norm for the evening.”
The Iowa Democratic Party, however, insisted that the app did not create delays.
President Donald Trump’s campaign quickly criticized the delay, calling it the “sloppiest train wreck in history.”
“Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in an emailed statement, adding that there were concerns about “the fairness of the process.”
“The only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is ‘Trump,'” the president tweeted early Tuesday.