Iowa Democrats Deploy New Strategy After Bungling 2020 Caucus

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Dec 01, 2023 - 04:00 AM

Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Iowa Republicans will be the first in the nation to weigh in on the competitive Republican presidential race, as they continue their long-time Iowa Caucus tradition on Jan. 15 next year.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Shutterstock)

But Democrats—with a virtually noncompetitive race, a presidential call to ditch caucuses, and memories of the bungled 2020 caucus—are turning entirely to mail ballots for the 2024 caucuses in Iowa.

If 2020 was the year of election anomalies, the first irregularity was the Democratic Iowa Caucus which was rife with technical flaws, offered no results on election night, and left the Associated Press unable to ever declare a winner.

The Feb. 3, 2020, Democratic Iowa Caucus used a freshly developed smartphone app to communicate caucus results, but the app got glitchy, and a hotline to call in results was overwhelmed, preventing results from being available on caucus night. By the next day, just 62 percent of the Democratic results were counted. A week later, folks were losing patience.

Precinct captain Carl Voss, of Des Moines, Iowa, holds his iPhone that shows the Iowa Democratic Party's caucus reporting app, in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 4, 2020. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

“The Iowa Democratic Party deserved better than what happened on caucus night," state party chair Troy Price said in his Feb. 12 resignation letter. With results still not determined, he stepped down eight days after the caucus. By the time Mr. Price resigned, New Hampshire already had results from its Feb. 11, 2020, primary.

The first three rounds of the 2024 primary season didn't go well for then-candidate Joe Biden, who had terrible results in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. He didn’t see a win until March 1 in the South Carolina primary where he got 49 percent of the Democratic vote. The Iowa results were finally calculated two days before South Carolina’s primary, putting Mr. Biden in fourth place behind Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Right after South Carolina and before Super Tuesday, Mr. Buttigieg, Ms. Klobuchar and former candidate and Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke dropped out of the race and endorsed Mr. Biden. Mr. Sanders dropped out a month later and also endorsed Mr. Biden.

Traditional Caucus Called 'Anti-Worker'

With the presumptive candidate chosen, the long-delayed result of the Democratic Iowa Caucus fell out of the national conversation. But it was not totally forgotten—nor was Mr. Biden’s poor performance in the early races.

Using the racial makeup of voters as one reason, two years later, President Joe Biden wrote a letter calling for the end of caucuses and a change to the Democratic nominating calendar.

Our party should no longer allow caucuses as part of our nominating process,” he wrote in December 2022, saying caucuses take too long, require voters to choose their candidate in public, and because they are held at a set time, it is tough for hourly workers to attend.

Caucuses are “Inherently anti-participatory. It should be our party’s goal to rid the nominating process of restrictive, anti-worker caucuses,” he said.

And allowing Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada to go first makes the early votes too white, President Biden indicated. Too often, he said, candidates drop out or are marginalized by the press and pundits because of poor performances in small states early in the process before voters of color cast a vote.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden greets supporters as he arrives for a campaign town hall on the campus of University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Jan. 27, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window,” Mr. Biden said. “For decades, Black voters, in particular, have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process.”

Iowa is 89 percent white, with 7 percent of the population Hispanic, and 4 percent black, according to the U.S. Census.

New Hampshire is 92 percent white; 4 percent Hispanic; 2 percent black.

Nevada is 45 percent white; 30 percent Hispanic; 10 percent black; 9 percent Asian; and 5 percent two or more races.

South Carolina, where Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign turned around, is 63 percent white; 7 percent Hispanic; 26 percent black; 2 percent Asian; and 2 percent two or more races.

Mail-in Caucus

The Democratic and Republican styles of running caucuses in Iowa are different. In addition to choosing candidates, both parties conduct the business of the party, choosing local party leadership and delegates, and discussing the party's platform.

Republicans gather, discuss, and then vote once. Those results are sent to Republican headquarters.

Traditionally, Democrats gather, discuss, and then go stand in a corner of the room designated for their candidate. After heads are counted, supporters of the candidate with the lowest number of votes choose a different corner. This is repeated until one candidate is clearly the winner. It involves time and lots of conversations.

But it will be different for Democrats in 2024 as the party tries to maintain its place as the first caucus in the nation and play by the new rules of the National Democratic Party, which in February honored President Biden’s request and reordered the presidential primary calendar. South Carolina will go first now, with a Feb. 24 primary.

In Iowa, Democrats will request a presidential preference card through the mail or email. Presidential preference cards will be mailed out starting Jan. 12. The last day to request a presidential preference card is Feb. 19.

Democrats will hold in-person precinct caucuses on Jan. 15, 2024, to conduct party business only. No presidential preference will be taken at the in-person precinct caucuses, according to information provided to The Epoch Times by the Iowa Democratic Party.

The results of the mail-in presidential preference will be released on Super Tuesday, March 5, meaning that while Iowa Democrats will start collecting ballots first, results will not be first in the nation.

Why First Matters

The Iowa caucuses have been the first in the nation since 1972.

Republicans, in 2024, have the more interesting, competitive race, and they will continue in their traditional style, holding the caucuses first. That is why many Republican candidates have spent time in Iowa.

Obviously, [being first] is very important to us,” Kush Desai, spokesman for the Iowa Republican Party, told The Epoch Times.

“From the day of the 2020 caucus, our Republican chairman was fighting harder to defend how they handled their 2020 caucus—more than, I think, most Democrats were, because we should look to preserve the first-in-nation status … I think they are still kind of nursing the hope that this is just a temporary thing, and then Iowa will be put back [as] first on the Democratic calendar.”

Many residents of small, rural towns across the United States may never meet a political candidate passing through the region, but candidates spend more time in Iowa.

Once the caucuses are done, we don't see them anymore until the next election cycle,” Silver City, Iowa, Mayor Sharon McNutt told The Epoch Times.

“We’ve learned to expect it, but that's why we fight for first-in-the-nation. Because if it wasn't for first-in-the-nation, we wouldn't even have that. I think that the Iowa voice is a rich voice for the Midwest. So, we speak for not only Iowa, but a lot of surrounding states that are rural.

People wait in line to participate in early voting in Greenville, S.C., on on Oct. 31, 2020. Election Day is Nov. 3, 2020. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)