Caucus Confusion

I’m going to chalk this post under the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ category. The 2020 election season is officially underway with the Iowa caucus being held this past Monday. Want to know what the results were? So does everyone else!

As of this writing, almost a full week has gone by and there still is no clear winner in the Iowa Democratic caucus. The Iowa Republican caucus results are a different story. The results were tabulated, verified, and released before the night was over. Three candidates were on the ballot and Trump won by a landslide.

What’s up with the Democrats?

Granted, I follow politics voraciously and am full of fun facts and opinions. That being said, I honestly had no clue how complicated the Iowa Democratic Party makes the initial voting process. To find out why I did a ton of research.

The rumor mills are in full swing over this one!

Before I tackle that, let’s stick to the facts as I’ve come to understand them. KTIV, a local NBC station in Iowa ran a report explaining the process. Here is their description of the differences between a Democratic and Republican caucus experience.

The process of caucusing can be confusing since it differs so much from a primary vote. 

There are many Democratic candidates to choose from, 11 to be exact, and Democratic caucuses different from Republican. 

Democrats have an open vote. 

For comparison: during the primaries, you simply vote but in the caucus, you have a discussion and then vote. 

You physically vote with your body, and you move to certain parts of the room to show which candidate you support. 

So, after each campaign makes its pitch, Democrats split up into “preference groups”, which support a specific candidate. But, unless a “preference group” is made up of at least 15% of the people at that caucus, the group isn’t viable. 

Those supporters can choose to re-align and support another candidate that’s still “viable” and what some may not know is that undecided could be one of those viable groups

“If a group of undecided people align together and they are above 15%, then yeah, they have to stay with that group of undecided,” said Theresa Weaber-Basye, Co-Chair for Precinct 10. “And they could make their decision further down the road as to where their vote will go.”

While the Democrats have a large ballot of candidates to choose from, it’s different for the Republicans.

While Democrats have an open vote, the Republican vote is a straw poll. This means, you go to your caucus location and vote anonymously similar to how you might vote in the general election. 

Votes are then counted and winner takes all.

That ambiguity and ability to have your vote count but not count unless your candidate receives 15% of the total vote is the reason why the whole process on the Democratic side is so complicated and hard to tally. The Republican side is simple. Vote anonymously and count all the votes after the caucus closes. Whoever gets the most votes wins. Pretty simple!

Apparently, this was not the first time this process has lead to delayed and conflicting results in Iowa. 

Several news reports covering this story this week have highlighted that fact.

Bernie Sanders, Iowas Caucus

You may be wondering why don’t they change the process to something simpler like the Republican method of running a caucus. Great question! I guess it’s a philosophical debate that revolves around nostalgia. The Democratic method of gathering in a room and having cheerleaders for each candidate doing their best to persuade you to come to their side of the room and stand with them may sound like a fun night out if you have nothing better to do. I personally would have no interest in hanging around for a half-hour minimum waiting to see if my pick for president could garner 15% of the room, then moving around to another group and repeating the process. I’m a get in, keep my vote secret, cast my ballot, and get out type of voter. To each is own!

Einstein has a quote that revolves around insanity and expecting different results by doing the same thing. Not saying the Democratic caucus process in Iowa is insane but they shouldn’t expect a clear winner to be announced promptly by doing the same thing that causes confusion each election cycle. You can’t make this stuff up!

Before I get to the rumor I want to make an observation. I read several articles that covered the #IowaCaucusDebacle this week. 

Identity politics and racism were the recurring themes in some of the left-leaning articles and videos that tried to explain the caucus process and lack of results. If you listen to them, old white people are to blame for everything. 

If that’s the truth, what does that say about the Democratic Party overall?

If we’re going to play the race card and blame old white people for the archaic caucus process why doesn’t the Democratic Party change it to a simpler method of voting? If you use the Republican method of a caucus where people vote anonymously and award the delegates to the person with the most votes, aka the popular vote, you would have no delay and the results would be clear. 

If you go the race card route, you would have to say the Republican Party in Iowa is not racist and the Democratic Party is, due to the simpler process of voting and ensuring that every vote was counted. I don’t subscribe to identity politics but there is a sense of irony when I read articles that blame the process on that premise. Another flaw in the race card explanation is that Obama won the Iowa caucus in 2008 and 2012. If old white people were rigging the caucus process in Iowa because they are racist, how do those “geniuses” explain that?

Speaking of rigging the election, here is the current rumor that is dominating the political headlines. 

Iowa Caucus Debacle

It’s going to sound like something out of a Hollywood movie and would be if the optics weren’t so bad. Several media outlets reported on the anti-Bernie conspiracy with the following passage coming from The Daily Beast.

Much of the speculation has focused on Shadow, the obscure Democratic tech firm that designed the Iowa-reporting app. Both Biden and Buttigieg’s campaigns have previously paid Shadow, which was launched by Democratic dark money group ACRONYM, providing grist for conspiracy theorists’ suspicious that the app’s developers were biased against Sanders. Sanders fans also pointed out that Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

I want to repeat how crazy this all sounds. A tech company named Shadow, which is funded by a Democratic digital nonprofit group, created a website that was used by the Iowa Democratic Party to calculate the caucus results. Several of the people listed on the company’s website were formerly employed by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. The same election that saw rampant favoritism by the DNC in favor of Hillary and against Bernie to the point where super delegates were awarded via fiat to Clinton and CNN moderator Donna Brazile admitted to providing her with questions ahead of her debates against Bernie. You can’t make this stuff up!

On Wednesday, Krystal Ball, co-host of “The Rising” on Hill TV, made the case why many people believe reporting of the caucus results was “rigged” against the Vermont senator. While Ball has not endorsed any candidate she has publicly stated that she likes Sanders as a candidate and has used her media platform to push back against the drumbeat of anti-Bernie sentiment that runs rampant on cable networks like MSNBC.

What’s happened in Iowa, Ball said, “enabled Pete to claim a fake victory for days, enabled by the Iowa Democratic Party… and the media—who ran with headlines that ‘Pete’s in the lead.’ The people who are the real victims here are those putting Sanders over the top—or close to the top right now—it’s the immigrant workers and Latino working-class people that [the Sanders] campaign painstakingly organized. And their voices were erased from this for days, which in my mind is downright criminal.”

Krystal pounced on the fact that the Iowa Democratic Party initially released only 62% of the caucus results. They provided no explanation as to why they chose that amount, where the votes came from or proof of their legitimacy. Her overall feeling is that the votes were cherry-picked to show favoritism for the DNC’s chosen candidate and against Sanders.

“All of this completely goes to show you that Sanders supporters are going to be absolutely mistrustful of this process—and rightfully so. Why were these votes released in this way? Why were there—even after they came out—so many errors? It’s absolutely outrageous.”

Is 2020 going to be a repeat of the 2016 primaries? Will we see the will of the electorate be overrun by the wants of the political elites? 

Will voters who “feel the Bern” have their candidate of choice be denied once again in favor of the establishments chosen rising star? Time will only tell. History does have a way of repeating itself. Not saying I subscribe to conspiracy theories completely but I wouldn’t be surprised if the elder statesman from Vermont were passed over once again. 

Last time it was for the hope of the nation’s first female president. This time it may be for the first openly gay leader of the free world. 

Or in another twist, the Socialist Senator could be bested by the billionaire from New York…not Trump, the other one. 

Good luck to all involved. The way this week has gone they’re going to need it.

2020 Election Bernie Sanders DNC Iowa Caucus Pete Buttigieg

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