Six months ago, you would have predicted a Joe Biden win in the Iowa caucuses. Four months ago, Pete Buttigieg looked like the favorite. Twenty-four hours ago, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders seemed set to storm to victory. But no one foresaw an outcome this disastrous for the Democratic party.
Precinct captains across the Hawkeye state reported faults with an app used in the caucuses for the first time. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Iowa Democratic party described ‘inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results’:
‘In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report.’
Despite the utter confusion, most of the Democratic candidates addressed their supporters at their Iowa campaign headquarters. ‘Looks like it’s going to be a long night, but I’m feeling good,’ said Joe Biden as he took the stage in Des Moines. Speaking just before him, Sen. Amy Klobuchar urged to supporters to ‘stay up. Let’s stay in good spirits.’
The Democrats reportedly paid a company called Shadow to create the caucus app, which has apparently failed. By strange coincidence, the Buttigieg campaign also paid Shadow to do some work for them, and Buttigieg just sort of, half-claimed victory in a speech. ‘Tonight, Iowa chose a new path,’ said Mayor Pete. Too right.
In the absence of conclusive results, the campaigns fell back on their own internal reporting numbers to ascertain their success in the Midwest. Bernie Sanders, for example, sent out figures that showed him triumphing over Buttigieg.
Inbox: Sanders releases internal reporting numbers.
5. Klobuchar pic.twitter.com/Z6uqii2Cgp
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) February 4, 2020
The numbers screw-up also gave cloud cover to Joe Biden, who appeared to be set for a tumultuous evening. The former vice president was being outperformed by Andrew Yang at some venues. Biden was braced for a bad night after the results of the spiked Des Moines Register poll were leaked to FiveThirtyEight, which had him in fourth place on 13 percent.
Only one candidate was truly able to declare himself victor on Monday night. ‘Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!’, tweeted President Trump.