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The apps Iowa Democrats should have used to report their caucus results

If caucus-goers had sent in TikTok videos to the Iowa Democrats, we would know who had won by now

February 4, 2020

12:15 PM

4 February 2020

12:15 PM

Confused Iowa Democrats had to face up to an age-old foe at their caucuses last night. No, not the Russians — newfangled technology.

An app called Shadow was used to report results for the first time in Iowa. Cockburn says ‘used’, though that is something of an exaggeration. As Axios describes, ‘The app either failed in some way, or users simply found that they couldn’t use it easily and resorted to the phones instead. The phone system may not have been properly staffed since the app was going to take care of most of the reporting.’

Precinct leaders were left shouting at their iPhone screens with all the competence of a grandmother learning to use Skype. Cockburn can’t help but wonder if they might have had more success communicating the vote totals if they tried a more established app. For example…


The most direct option. A precinct leader could have hailed a ride, waited for the driver to roll up in his Honda Accord, and bombed straight down the freeway to report the results in person. If they were smart, they even could have pooled between different caucus locations.



Even more of an upgrade. If you’re going to courier results from one location to another, you might as well get a bite to eat as well. They could have sent the results written in Sharpie on a pizza box. Or, in a more Iowan approach, counted out a kernel of corn for each vote.


The Iowa caucuses mostly function by head counts of supporters hosted in college gymnasiums. What better way to measure the number of people in your immediate proximity than with an app designed to do just that? Also, there’s no risk of Grindr being compromised by the Russians — as if they’d go up against the Chinese!


Sure, it’s also run by China. But is there a more du jour method of reporting your results than a 14-second video clip set to jaunty music? If so, Cockburn’s yet to hear of it. Its use may raise grumbles in the ‘Mayo Pete‘ camp…but their supporters’ app didn’t work out so great this time, so they’re hardly in a position to complain.


All it would take is a direct message on the work-messaging app to the Iowa Democratic headquarters. Then the results would be in. The same applies to WhatsApp, GroupMe, iMessage, Messenger…hell, the Iowa Dems could even use LinkedIn messenger while they’re searching for a replacement for the political consultants who screwed them over this time around.

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