The Iowa caucuses ended Monday – and on Tuesday morning Americans still don’t have the name of an official winner. Release of caucus results was delayed because technical errors creating inconsistencies in the reporting of data.
The glitches and mix ups are prompting renewed calls to shake up the primary voting process for choosing the eventual party nominee to run for president.
Politico’s chief politics correspondent Tim Alberta wrote that “after so many years spent in the crosshairs”, which had even current candidates “challenging its privileged position”, as the first state to vote in the nomination process each election cycle, there can be no doubt that “Iowa’s reign is over”.
“They failed in such complete and humiliating fashion that no one will remember who won the 2020 caucuses, only that Iowa lost,” he said.
Across the state, voters attending the arcane caucus process stand behind chairs or sit on bleachers designated for their candidate, and wait to be counted. If, after bodies are tallied, their favorite doesn’t reach a set threshold of support, caucusing members can join up with another group as a second choice, to support a rival. Candidates are awarded a certain number of party delegates, who ultimately determine the nominee, in proportional to bodies. Tie breaks are determined by coin flip.
It’s a method many see as antiquated, compared with voting at the ballot box in a the primary-style contest most states use, adding to demands that Democrats overhaul the system and schedule entirely. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are also joining the call to move on from Iowa’s caucusing tradition.
“I think the Democratic caucus in Iowa is a quirky, quaint tradition which should come to an end”, Illinois senator and senior Democrat Dick Durbin told MSNBC. “As we try to make voting easier for people across America, the Iowa caucus is the most painful situation we currently face for voting”.
The state already faced mounting criticism for not just how it allocates delegates, but when. Iowa’s caucus kicks off the presidential primary season, making its influence over candidate momentum disproportionate to its population.
Earlier in the race, former housing secretary and dropped-out 2020 candidate Julián Castro called out the caucus tradition, noting that states like Iowa – and New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the nation – aren’t representative of the party’s core voting blocs.
Iowa is overwhelming rural, white, and older – a stark contrast to a democratic party that grows younger, more progressive and diverse each presidential election cycle.
Castro quit the race in January and endorsed Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Early Tuesday he called Iowa “a total mess”.
Donald Trump, whose Republican party is experiencingreverse trends in diversity, mocked the Iowa non-result, questioning when Democrats will “start blaming Russia”, “instead of their own incompetence”.
With a lack of data in Iowa allowing leading candidates to declare some sort of victory in Iowa, the presidential hopefuls quickly progressed to New Hampshire – another overwhelmingly white state.