The Democratic candidates appear to be headed for an epic court battle to determine who won the Iowa caucus - a court battle that could potentially outlast the entire primary season and ensure that the real winner of Iowa (cough - Bernie Sanders - cough) is never revealed.
Following a morning of grumblings and whispers among the five campaigns - Warren, Klobuchar, Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders - the Biden campaign has sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party warning them that Biden is ready to take the issue of who actually won the primary all the way to the Supreme Court.
Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus sent a letter to top Iowa party officials demanding "full explanations and relevant information" about the abysmal breakdown of the Dems support-tallying app.
JUST IN: Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus sent a letter to top Iowa Democratic Party officials demanding “full explanations and relevant information” for the “failed” systems the IDP deployed for tonight’s caucuses.— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) February 4, 2020
Read the letter: pic.twitter.com/w6RtTVkDPt
The letter noted that both the primary system for counting votes - the app made by mysterious Bond-villain wannabe SHADOW - and the backup system - telephonically phoning in results - failed. Now, caucus chairs, the leaders of each individual caucus district, are attempting to report results via telephone to the party brass, but many of them aren't getting through.
But here's the kicker: The Biden campaign would like a "full explanation" of what happened before the results are released.
That little detail shows exactly what the Biden campaign is getting at. His team is clearly aware that the chaos benefited all of the centrists still in the running - Buttigieg, Biden and Klobuchar - while hurting Sanders (believed to be the real winner) and Warren.
The letter was sent before a Tuesday morning conference call between the IDP and the campaigns. During the call, the party said they would report half of the results at 5 pm ET (4 pm local time). There were reportedly many objections to this plan on the call. We imagine most of those objections came from the Buttigieg and Biden camps.
As Nate Silver explains, if the results aren't released immediately, the winners will be robbed of the post-Iowa bump, giving the moderates in the race a 'mulligan'.
There’s a good chance that the candidates who did well in Iowa won't see their expected bounce, while the candidates who did poorly there get a mulligan.@NateSilver538 on chaos in the Hawkeye State: https://t.co/agsB3UdK0s— ABC News (@ABC) February 4, 2020
Other reports claim Bernie campaign staffers went around recording vote totals at many Iowa precincts - unbeknownst to the party machine. When their early tallies didn't match the recorded results from campaign workers, his campaign sent 5 lawyers to complain.
I am now hearing that the Sanders campaign sent workers to every caucus to record the live results.— 🌹 Salem Snow For Congress (@Salem4Congress) February 4, 2020
The DNC was unaware of this. When their early tallies did not match the recorded results from campaign workers, his campaign had 5 lawyers contact the DNC. Now they’re meeting.
Biden just needs to stay in the game until we get to South Carolina, where Sanders is weakest. Meanwhile, political talking heads are talking about how this incident could rob Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status. But if a legal battle erupts, Biden wins by default: A delay in releasing the Iowa results is a win for Biden and Buttigieg, and a huge problem for Bernie - at least in theory.
In reality, his campaign now has plenty of ammunition to revive the narrative that the primary has been rigged against him - much to the consternation of party loyalists.
Of course, the more we learn about the caucuses, the more concerned we become:
Is this the precious Democracy that I’m supposed to be worried about Russia undermining? https://t.co/Dn4Hfom5nH— Dave Smith (@ComicDaveSmith) February 4, 2020
American democracy - ain't it grand?