As early Tuesday morning stretched on with no official results, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released an imperfect set of internal results from the Iowa caucuses.
“Due to the failure of the Iowa Democratic Party to release results tonight and in the interest of full transparency, Bernie 2020 Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver is releasing the campaign’s internal reporting numbers, which represent the results from nearly 40 percent of precincts in Iowa,” the statement began.
“We recognize that this does not replace the full data from the Iowa Democratic Party, but we believe firmly that our supporters worked too hard for too long to have the results of that work delayed,” Weaver said.
According to the preliminary results published by the Sanders campaign, Bernie took first place with 29.66 percent, with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg taking second with 24.59 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took third, with 21.24 percent. No other candidate received the 15 percent necessary for delegates. On the final count, former Vice President Joe Biden took 12.37 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) took 11 percent.
These numbers may or may not be representative of the true results. After all, the Sanders campaign has an incentive to claim Bernie won the caucuses.
His decision to publish results seems rather controversial, however. The Iowa Democratic Party has not released results because the party tried to fix the errors of the 2016 election, in the interest of answering criticisms from none other than Bernie Sanders. The party is likely holding back the results in order to avoid releasing misleading results — as happened in the 2012 Republican caucuses.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Kirsten Powers said, “This is the Super Bowl of politics.” The Iowa caucuses are the first event of the campaign season. The delay has weakened the impact of this political event.
However, it must be frustrating for the Iowa Democratic Party, which is trying to release accurate information and trying to be extremely transparent — because of Sanders’ complaints. The party aimed to release three sets of results, and it appears some volunteers may not have quite worked out the reporting system. Frustrating as the delay is, it may not involve anything nefarious.
Some have suggested that the delay makes Florida’s 2000 hanging chads look good by comparison, but that is likely premature. The 2000 recount stretched on for weeks and involved a Supreme Court case — that is not likely to take place in Iowa this year.
However, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny asked, “Is this the end of the Iowa caucuses?” That question is apropos. Even if the Iowa Democratic Party explains exactly what happened and comes out with robust results on Tuesday, this delay will make Americans more anxious to change the presidential contest calendar and revoke Iowa’s place as the one kickoff contest.
The delay may not be as damning as it seems in the early hours of Tuesday morning, but it will be memorable and Americans may have had enough of Iowa’s key role in presidential campaigns.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.