Opinion: Why the Iowa Caucus was a disaster

By James Bouffard
Contributing Writer

The Iowa Caucus on Feb. 3 was an unprecedented disaster. The state Democratic Party encouraged precinct leaders to use an app for vote reporting. Those who used it encountered difficulties because of constant crashing. 

Calling in the results proved strenuous as well. People were on hold for hours, with the calls sometimes dropping. No results were released until the next day, and only 62% of them were made public.

The results originally indicated candidate Pete Buttigieg clearly had the most State Delegate Equivalents (SDEs). Over the next couple days, results continued to trickle in. Buttigieg maintained his lead, but Sanders unequivocally led the popular vote while gaining more and more delegates. It eventually became apparent that the two men were in a virtual tie over SDEs, while Sanders had around 6,000 more votes. 

Photo courtesy of NPR.

Buttigieg’s victory has provoked widespread suspicion. For context, Buttigieg has been in contact with leading Democrats who are attempting to derail the Sanders campaign. He attended a dinner hosted by Bernard Schwarz, a prominent Democratic donor. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were reportedly also in attendance.

According to the New York Times, such gatherings have been dominated by discussions over the threat Bernie Sanders poses to the Democratic Party. 

Buttigieg also has ties with other figures in establishment, including the NGO, ACRONYM, founded in 2017. 

In 2019, the company acquired Shadow Inc, who went on to develop the app. Since both ACRONYM and Shadow Inc. are funded and led by centrist Democrats, it’s aroused concern for the legitimacy of the votes.

ACRONYM CEO Tara McGowan is also married to a prominent strategist for the Buttigieg campaign. She has expressed support for Buttigieg and criticism of Sanders. 

Buttigieg’s campaign additionally purchased approximately $40,000 worth of services from Shadow, Inc. 

Now, there have been responses to both of these claims. Buttigieg apologists note that other candidates, such as Joe Biden, have also done business with Shadow, Inc., and the campaign purchased services for reaching voters via texting. It should be noted that Biden’s campaign only paid Shadow, Inc. $1,225. 

The Des Moines register poll adds another layer to this story. This poll is generally released a couple days beforehand, but this year it wasdelayed until the Caucus. Why? Apparently, a Buttigieg supporter claimed their candidate was missing from the list of people to choose from when completing the telephone survey. Like other polls, it showed Sanders leading, and if released earlier,  it may have given his campaign momentum.

Numerous possibilities are consistent with the evidence presented. Maybe the people and organizations involved realized the scrutiny their actions caused and attempted to backtrack. Alternatively, anticipating Sanders’ success, the process could have been sabotaged to prevent him from gaining momentum, and the Party could have fostered the impression of a clear Buttigieg victory in the days immediately following the caucus, which, in turn increased his popularity going into New Hampsh

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