New York Daily News
Corn-clogged Iowans botch 1st Dem vote
DES MOINES — The Iowa Democratic Party said Monday night results from the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus were delayed due to “quality checks” and new reporting rules, an embarrassing complication that added a new layer of doubt to an already uncertain presidential primary season.
The statement came as Iowa voters packed caucus sites across the state with at least four leading candidates battling to win the opening contest of the 2020 campaign, and ultimately, the opportunity to take on President Trump this fall.
Democrats hoped that Iowa’s caucuses would provide some clarity for what has been a muddled nomination fight for much of the past year. But apparent technology issues delayed the results as the state party suggested turnout was on track to match 2016 numbers.
“The integrity of the results is paramount,” party spokesperson Mandy McClure said. “We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time.”
Des Moines County Democratic Chairman Tom Courtney blamed technology issues in his county, relaying precinct reports that the app created for caucus organizers to report results was “a mess.” As a result, Courtney said precinct leaders were phoning in results to the state party headquarters, which was too busy to answer their calls in some cases.
Iowa voters were balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat Trump as they sorted through nearly a dozen candidates in a contest that offered the opening test of who and what the party stands for in the turbulent age of Trump. It’s just the first in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending only at the party’s national convention in mid-July.
For Democrats, the moment was thick with promise for a party that has seized major gains in states since Trump won the White House in 2016. But instead of clear optimism, a cloud of uncertainty and intraparty resentment hung over Monday’s election as the prospect of an unclear result raised fears of a long and divisive primary fight in the months ahead.
The Democratic contenders — including Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor — came before their supporters who’d been waiting for victory speeches but settled for promises to move ahead.
“We feel good about where we are, so it’s on to New Hampshire,” Biden told supporters, adding he’d “walk out of here with our share of delegates.”
Sanders also predicted good news, saying he believed he would do “very very well” when the results came in.
Warren, at her headquarters in downtown Des Moines, told supporters, “We don’t know all the results tonight, but tonight has already shown that Americans have a hunger for big structural change,” while Klobuchar, at her own headquarters, declared, “We know one thing: we are punching above our weight.”
Buttigieg told his screaming supporters, “So we don’t know all the results, but we by the time all is said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”
One unsurprising development: Trump won the Republican caucus, a largely symbolic victory given that he faced no significant opposition.
Pre-caucus polls suggested that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders might have a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates — Sanders, Biden, Warren or Buttigieg — could score a victory in Iowa’s unpredictable and quirky caucus system as organizers prepared for record turnout. Klobuchar was also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates including entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.
About one quarter of all voters reported that they were caucusing for the first time, according to AP Vote Cast, a survey of voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses.