Update (0945ET): We're not huge fans of Nate Silver, but the 538 data guru delivered a memorable rant about how the Dems found themselves in this situation.
- It's damn hard to calculate 15% of a number. That's the threshold for determining if a candidate won any delegates.
- It's so hard to calculate 15% that the Democrats needed to develop an app to do the calculation.
- The app was too hard to use. And bear in mind, one does have to punch in numbers correctly.
- It's hard to punch in the numbers correctly when the results are scattered all over the room.
- Of course there is another key issue. People have to know how to use a phone.
- Using a phone requires a mobile app and a backup telephone system. Now that might sound easy, but I can tell you from the results, that it isn't.
We'd love to see some data on the median age of Iowa's caucus volunteers.
* * *
Update (0915ET): The official results from last night's Iowa caucus are now 12 hours late. Offering a terse update, the Iowa Democratic organization said Tuesday morning that their new app-based reporting system, which was never tested before caucus-day, had a "coding issue" but that the results would still be reliable.
The problem, they explained, was that the smartphone app only reported partial data. Somehow, the Dems managed to completely botch an app that was only ever meant to be used by 1,700 people helping to oversee the caucus results.
Of course, this wasn't the only 'technical glitch' to impact the caucus: Over the weekend, the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll that was set to be released Saturday was instead scrapped because of complaints from the Buttigieg campaign about its methodology. Sources said the issue was attributed to an issue with the 'font size', as one of the pollsters enlarged the text, bumping Buttigieg's name off the list of options.
An app fails. A poll caller changes the font size on a monitor. And the Des Moines Register and Iowa Democratic Party implode.— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 4, 2020
Sources also said that poll would've confirmed earlier polls showing Bernie Sanders widening his lead. Once again, Buttigieg (who was the first to declare victory last night, effectively making him the 'winner' by default) was behind this snafu.
A conference call with the various campaigns has been scheduled for 11 AM local time.
Below are excerpts from a statement to the press from the IDP, courtesy of the Hill.
- "Precinct level results are still being reported to the IDP. While our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld," the party said in a statement.
- "As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound."
- "While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed. The application’s reporting issue did not impact the ability of precinct chairs to report data accurately."
- "Because of the required paper documentation, we have been able to verify that the data recorded in the app and used to calculate State Delegate Equivalents is valid and accurate."
- "We are reading confirmed reports of Shadow’s work with the Iowa Democratic Party on Twitter and we, like everyone else, are eagerly awaiting more information from the Iowa Democratic Party about what happened," spokesman Kyle Tharp said.
But remember folks...don't believe the conspiracy theories...god forbid anybody suspects that this extremely shady and suspicious string of events and coincidences is anything other than that. And enough with #MayorCheat - that's not going to help anyone beat Trump in November, right?
Don’t get roped into Iowa conspiracy theories. It was human error. When Trump spouts this stuff, remember, he’s doing it to get you to lose confidence, give up & not vote. Don’t let him keep you from voting. The one way to be sure your vote won’t count is if you don’t cast it. https://t.co/cAgDOLnwSS— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 4, 2020
Iowa Democrats are now saying the coding issue has been 'fixed'.
Great: At least it'll be ready for 2024. The Iowa Dems said they should have the results 'some time' Tuesday.
Betting odds are currently favoring a release right in the middle of President Trump's State of the Union.
* * *
Update (0845ET): As it turns out, tech snafus and 'human error' weren't solely to blame for last night's caucus catastrophe. A columnist for the Iowa Gazette reported that new rules introduced for this year's caucus, plus a lack of clarity on the rules of the esoteric ritual apparently prompted some local precinct supervisors to make illegal decisions about supporters of 'non-viable' candidates joining together.
After the Warren campaign spent hours instructing its precinct captains in the arcane rules of the caucus, some wondered whether nonpartisan volunteers in charge of the process had received adequate training.
"Are you going to report how this was a (beep) show?" asked Megan Lange, a Warren supporter. "If this is going on in other caucuses, how reliable is it?"
"We had to do two hours of training so we knew how it was supposed to work," said Diane Bean, another Warren backer, who wondered whether volunteers were trained well enough.
"This is like a badly organized middle school assembly," Harris said. "As a young voter, this is very disappointing."
The circumstances in Mario will likely lead to Warren challenging the results.
Volunteers messed up. And their late efforts to pull Marion 5 out of the dumpster fire might have fared better if more people had waited to go from being caucusgoers to home-goers. By the time the problem was identified, too few Democrats remained in the gym for a replay call.
"We regret the confusion," said Barb Wild, a caucus volunteer. She encouraged Warren supporters to document the problems so lessons can be learned. A complaint is likely.
The takeaway: Even once they've finished counting the votes, millions of Americans will likely refuse to recognize this as a legitimate reflection of the 'will of the people'.
Meanwhile, the NYT has published its story explaining exactly what went wrong...something we previewed in a series of tweets from an NYT reporter.
* * *
Update (0725ET): Tuesday morning has arrived...and still no results.
At this point, anything could happen, including...
Tomorrow’s plot twist “Hillary Clinton is reported the winner of the Iowa caucus.”— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 4, 2020
* * *
Did the Iowa Democratic Party hire Morgan Stanley to build the vote-counting app for its first-in-the-nation caucus? Because last night's catastrophe made the Facebook IPO look like an organized, orderly market debut.
After the party badly botched the rollout of the results of last night's Iowa Caucus following "quality control issues" involving the transmission of data from caucus sites to the main reporting headquarters, millions are accusing the Democratic Party of once again trying to rig the nominating contest to favor establishment candidates while undermining the insurgent campaign of 'Democratic Socialist' Bernie Sanders.
This technical glitch has led to one of the most electoral catastrophes in recent memory: Roughly 8 hours after results were expected, there's still nothing, and the entire process has been plunged into chaos. The issue erupted after the Iowa Democratic Party announced late Tuesday that it had found 'inconsistencies' in its electronic data, prompting them to audit it against the paper trail, according to NBC News.
Party chair Troy Price said the party is "validating every piece of data we have against our paper trail. That system is taking longer than expected, but it's in place to ensure we are eventually able to report results with full confidence."
The state Democratic party's communications director, Mandy McClure, said on Monday night that there were "inconsistencies" in the reporting of three sets of results. "In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report," McClure said.
This is simply a reporting issue. The app did not go down, and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results," McClure added.
Needless to say, polls released in recent weeks showed Bernie Sanders surging ahead, cementing him as the front-runner heading into the race. And then this glitch happens, allowing Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden to steal the caucus-evening spotlight with the help of their cronies in the media.
After watching Democrats rig the 2016 primary in favor of Hillary Clinton, thousands have taken to twitter to express their frustration. If the caucus was an unmitigated disaster (made even more hilarious by the fact that all of the candidates invested months of their time and hundreds of millions of dollars trying to clinch the all-important first nominating contest), it was also a wellspring for political humor.
The main takeaway: Is it merely a coincidence that this epic confusion emerged after Bernie's surge in the polls?
i am available for crisis PR consulting for a reasonable $25,000/month retainer. my advice consists of "don't name your election transparency consultancy 'Shadow Inc.', even if you think the irony is amusing" https://t.co/0sBLxziRNE— Quantian (@quantian1) February 4, 2020
They’re absolutely fucking with the votes right now lol. Like 100%.— Interim President of Iowa (@babadookspinoza) February 4, 2020
All whiny-reporter grumbling aside….In the context of a country facing questions about the security of its elections and their potential vulnerability to manipulation, the clumsiness and confusion around these Iowa results is a serious debacle.— John F. Harris (@harrispolitico) February 4, 2020
the first time someone explained to me how caucuses work i thought it was joke and i have thought that every subsequent time someone has explained it— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) February 4, 2020
Let me get this straight:— Alex Wall (@AlexBWall) February 4, 2020
1. @CNN aired ALL of Klobuchar’s speech.
2. Aired ALL of Biden’s speech DURING Warren’s.
2. Briefly cut to Warren.
3. Then cut back to the panel while she was STILL SPEAKING.
Are you kidding me?!?! #IowaCaucuses
The woman I just saw double fisting two glasses of red wine at the Klobuchar party is the true winner of the Iowa caucuses— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) February 4, 2020
As millions wonder 'what the hell happened?', it appears a reporter with the New York Times has already sussed it out. And if her report is accurate, then instead of blaming the caucus disaster on 'human error', they should try 'rank stupidity'.
From our NYT story tonight: no indication the app to tally votes in Iowa was hacked/breached.— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) February 4, 2020
What happened appears to be much more mundane and commonplace: people didn’t understand how to use the technology, and bugs in internet speed/connectivity led to a lot of malfunctions.
That being said, cyber security experts (IE @mattblaze) are clear that this should have been tested, extensively, before being rolled out. That’s the best, and widely used standard in Cybersec these days: have everyone and anyone help look for vulnerabilities.— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) February 4, 2020
Instead this app was kept a secret until a few weeks ago. Precincts were given little to no training. It didn’t help that phone lines to call in votes were also recently changed.— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) February 4, 2020
Basically: more tech does not = better. Let’s see how many times we need to rinse and repeat that lesson before November.— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) February 4, 2020
While the party blamed the glitch on 'human error' (apparently, the party never bothered to train caucus volunteers or do a dry-run of its system) many are accusing the party of more election-rigging skullduggery as twitter sleuths quickly connected the company behind the Iowa Caucus app to Pete Buttigieg. As it turns out, it appears the company that developed the app (or rather, a company linked to the company that developed the app) was paid by the Buttigieg and Biden campaigns.
The CEO of the company that launched app company Shadow. But, yeah, I'm sure it's just human error. pic.twitter.com/oorPt1UW1X— elaine layabout is nobody 🐦 (@elainelayabout) February 4, 2020
sorry but I feel like I'm losing my mind looking at the LinkedIn for Shadow's CEO pic.twitter.com/VviwKGePFE— jenn (@lilfactoryhands) February 4, 2020
And no, there is absolutely nothing conspiratorial about pointing out the fact that the Shadow app - the failure of which gave Pete Buttigieg time in the limelight - was paid for in part by Buttigieg's campaign and made by a company whose CEO is a Buttigieg fan.— Vaush (Bernie Boi) (@VaushV) February 4, 2020
$50k of 'contributions' from #MayorCheat to Shadow, Shadow CEO sending heart emojis to Mayo Bootygag, and the Iowa Caucuses getting Epsteined like AZ and NY were in 2016? U rite, it could mean anything. 🤔🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/iIoI8qRHjt— Zimx02 (@Zimx02) February 4, 2020
The CEO of that company has gone into digital hiding.
The now locked twitter account of Shadow's CEO is *chef's kiss* pic.twitter.com/lNHsNGMTZ1— Robert Evans (The Only Robert Evans) (@IwriteOK) February 4, 2020
Klobuchar got lots of props for her big speech.
At this point Amy Klobuchar has broken into an Office Depot and is just throwing staplers at everyone. Wolf, back to you. #IowaCaucuses— Randy Rainbow (@RandyRainbow) February 4, 2020
It’s encouraging to hear Amy Klobuchar speak of uniting Democrats, independents and disaffected Republicans to replace this president. That’s a winning strategy for everyone.— Evan McMullin (@EvanMcMullin) February 4, 2020
Dem Party insiders are already demanding that supporters refrain from using 'the 'r' word' to describe last night's fiasco.
CNN bro, without evidence, suggests the Democratic Iowa caucuses are not rigged. https://t.co/xGEf31lvI0— Matt Wolking (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@MattWolking) February 4, 2020
I know it's tempting to make jokes... or insinuations.— Yascha Mounk (@Yascha_Mounk) February 4, 2020
But there is absolutely no evidence that there is anything untoward happening in Iowa.
Calling elections "rigged" without any evidence boosts conspiracy theories and destroys trust in democracy.
Don't do it.
Hmmm...this is actually a good point.
the most absurd thing about the THEY RIGGED IOWA conspiracy theory is the idea that Democrats could ever be that organized— shauna (@goldengateblond) February 4, 2020
So far, no official results have been released, though the Iowa Democratic Party said they expect to have them Tuesday morning. After Pete Buttigieg declared victory last night - an extremely prescient move on his part - most of the other candidates joined in, ensuring the press would be too confused to simply anoint Buttigieg as the victor because he said so (if there's one thing the American press can do, it's uncritically repeat the assertions of politicians).
Pete is a slimy little rat-faced fuck but he’s also the only candidate who realizes that if he just gets up there and says “Yeah bitch I won, here’s my acceptance speech, what’re you gonna do about it?” the media will probably run with it.— Quantian (@quantian1) February 4, 2020
Amy Klobuchar dragging trump right now, listing all of the people trump blames, including:— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) February 4, 2020
- President Obama
- guys he appointed
- Justin Trudeau, for cutting him out of "Home Alone 2."
Her speech is really good!
Of course, as Chris Arnade cheekily pointed out, declaring victory amid tumult is *exactly* what a McKinsey-trained management consultant would advise.
Declaring victory amidst chaos is exactly what a global management consultant would advice you to do.— Chris Arnade (@Chris_arnade) February 4, 2020
Since our last check-in, the various campaigns have released their internal numbers, offering incomplete glimpses of the state-wide results. The Sanders campaign put out data from 40% of precincts implying a landslide Sanders victory.
Inbox: Sanders releases internal reporting numbers.— Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) February 4, 2020
5. Klobuchar pic.twitter.com/Z6uqii2Cgp
Some mocked the hi-tech vote-counting system employed by Iowa Democrats.
MORE: Iowa Democrats are literally knocking on the doors of the precinct chairs who hadn't yet called in their results, according to one Iowa Democrat.— Elena Schneider (@ec_schneider) February 4, 2020
They are going door-knocking. At midnight. After the caucuses are over.
A flurry of exit polls and internal numbers have painted wildly different versions of the outcome. NBC's exit-poll results put Biden way ahead. At this point, even once the 'legitimate' numbers are released, nobody will accept them.
Sanders reporters were outraged when CNN and the rest of the TV news pack diverted coverage away from (what should/would have been) Bernie Sanders' landmark performance to cover the entirety of Amy Klobuchar's late-night stump speech.
LIVE: Sen. Klobuchar speaks on Iowa caucus night. https://t.co/H0S4baIfZN— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 4, 2020
As a reminder, a candidate wins the Democratic nomination only if they can secure a majority of delegates - 2,376 or more. But this total includes both pledged delegates - those awarded based on the results of primaries/caucuses - and unpledged superdelegates - party leaders who can vote for the candidate of their choosing. If Democratic leaders really possessed the courage of conviction, they'd simply stand up and say: 'We're going with Buttigieg, the entire primary process is merely window-dressing".
Setting personal political preferences aside, we'd like to agree with @Singlemaltfiend: Republicans were accused of rigging the 2016 election. The Dems couldn't even rig the goddamn Iowa caucus, even though most of the country doesn't understand how caucuses work.
Even if the Republicans rigged the 2016 Presidential election, at least they pulled it off. The Democrats can't even manage to rig a fucking caucus in Iowa.— Lord Single Malt (@Singlemaltfiend) February 4, 2020
From a sheerly practical standpoint, I prefer my unethical politicians to at least be effective.
Maybe next time they can try storing the votes on a blockchain.
two words: blockchain voting— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) February 4, 2020
As the Iowa Caucus devolves into chaotic finger-pointing, markets are rallying (partly because Sanders has been preventing from declaring victory) and millions are wondering: Is this a harbinger for the rest of the process? Are we really heading toward a brokered convention that allows hundreds of super delegates to pretty much pick 'Mike Bloomberg' out of a hat.