FPI / February 4, 2020
After discovering the problem which caused Monday’s debacle in the Iowa caucuses, the state’s Democratic Party said it would release the results, or at least half of the results, late on Tuesday afternoon.
But some analysts are saying that is way too little, way too late.
FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver said “the Iowa Democratic Party’s colossal screw-up in reporting results will potentially have direct effects on the outcome of the nomination process.”
For those who contend that the size of Iowa and its small number of delegates take away from the actual importance of the caucuses, Silver said that Iowa does matter — a lot.
“Despite its demographic non-representativeness, and the quirks of the caucuses process, the amount of media coverage the state gets makes it far more valuable a prize than you’d assume from the fact that it only accounts for 41 of the Democrats’ 3,979 pledged delegates,” Silver wrote.
“More specifically, we estimate — based on testing how much the results in various states have historically changed the candidates’ position in national polls — that Iowa was the second most-important date on the calendar this year, trailing only Super Tuesday.”
The Iowa Democratic Party blamed the debacle on a “coding issue” in its reporting app.
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News that the Iowa Democrats declined his department’s offer to help vet the app. But Wolf also stressed that the app was not hacked.
A similar mobile app used in Iowa reportedly is scheduled to be used by the Nevada Democratic Party for reporting of their caucus results later this month. Nevada’s caucuses on Feb. 22 are the third contest in the White House race following Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, which will be held in one week.
The app is also linked to campaign veterans Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House bid, reports say.
Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg both declared victory based on incomplete numbers touted by their campaigns. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar also claimed successful outcomes without going so far as to say they won. Joe Biden said he was “feeling good” but his campaign also questioned “the integrity of the process.”
Silver suggested that the failure to report results on Monday “will almost certainly help Biden, assuming that indications that he performed poorly in Iowa are correct, as they won’t get nearly as much media coverage. And they’ll hurt whichever candidate wins the state — most likely Sanders or Buttigieg.”
Furthermore, Silver wrote, “Iowa is typically a state that winnows the field. But with every candidate either having performed well there, potentially having an excuse for a disappointing finish there, or somewhere in between, it might not do that. Delaying the winnowing process would tangibly increase the chance of a contested convention.
“It’s not a good situation for the Democratic Party. And it’s already too late for the damage to be entirely undone, even if Iowa eventually gets its act together.”