The Messy Iowa Caucuses of 2020

What Happened and What Does it Mean for The Primary Race? 

By: Dejon Virgo

The leader of the Iowa Democratic Party walking off stage the day after the Iowa caucuses. Credit: bostonglobe.com

The time has come for everyone to crown a new winner of the Iowa caucuses and that winner will usher in a new media momentum that will help propel them to big wins in New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and beyond. 

Wait, that didn’t happen. It’s been almost a week since the caucuses and we finally have 99% of the precincts reporting. 

According to the Associated Press, the results are based on state delegates which are the people who will attend the state convention and determine how many pledged delegates a candidate will get. 

Pete Buttigieg got 26.2 percent of the vote with 564 votes and 11 delegates, Bernie Sanders got 26.1 percent of the vote with 562 votes and 11 delegates, and Elizabeth Warren got 18 percent of the vote with 387 votes and 5 delegates. 

Joe Biden got 15.8 percent of the votes with 341 votes and 2 delegates and Amy Klobuchar got 12.3 percent of the vote with 264 votes and 1 delegate. 

Based on these results it shows that Buttigieg has a very slight lead over Sanders which would make him the winner of the caucus, right? 

Technically, yes. But we still don’t have the final delegate count. The final delegate count is the most important count out of all the numbers because that will determine who will go to the party convention in the summer and vote for that candidate. 

In order to win the nomination a candidate needs to get at least 1,990 of 3,979 pledged delegates on the first ballot. Iowa sends 41 to the convention which isn’t a lot overall. 

Now let’s talk about what happened on the night of the caucuses. The results were set to be released at 9pm ET and when 9pm rolled around no results were reported for hours.

At 1am the next day, the Iowa Democratic Party said that they were not releasing the results yet. 

They claimed that some results may have been tampered with because of an app that was used to make the calculations easier. The day after the caucuses at 5pm ET, the party released 62% of the votes with the other results trickling in.

This has created a mess and has damaged the faith of the Democratic process. President Trump won the Republican caucus and poked fun at the Democratic party. 

This has also helped candidate Michael Bloomberg because he is skipping those states on his path to the nomination. 

While Buttigieg won the most state delegate votes, Sanders won the popular vote with 45,826 votes while Buttigieg got 43,195. Both campaigns are claiming victories while moving on to New Hampshire.

One of the biggest developments in Iowa is that Biden placed in 4th which was shocking because the polls had him close to 2nd with Sanders. Placing in 4th killed all the momentum that he may have gotten out of Iowa. 

One common question about the Iowa caucuses is why it is so important when they only have 41 delegates? 

When someone wins the Iowa caucuses it’s all over the media because it’s the first state primary and it helps candidates gain momentum and win other states. 

This trend started with Jimmy Carter and applied to other Democratic candidates like John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

Why should we stick to the old system of caucuses, which don’t seem to honor the popular vote? The technical issues of the Iowa Democratic caucus killed the momentum that Buttigieg or Sanders could have used on the campaign trail.


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