Chaos In Iowa: Thousands Of Furious Supporters Claim Iowa Caucus "Rigged" Against Bernie

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.

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?

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...

* * *

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?

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'.

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 that company has gone into digital hiding.

Klobuchar got lots of props for her big speech.

Dem Party insiders are already demanding that supporters refrain from using 'the 'r' word' to describe last night's fiasco.

Hmmm...this is actually a good point.

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).

Of course, as Chris Arnade cheekily pointed out, declaring victory amid tumult is *exactly* what a McKinsey-trained management consultant would advise.

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.

Some mocked the hi-tech vote-counting system employed by Iowa Democrats.

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.

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.

Maybe next time they can try storing the votes on a blockchain.

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.

Tags