Students Await Iowa Caucus Results After Delays

Drew Kaplan ’20, Editor-In-Chief

Students gathered to watch the Democratic Iowa caucus on Monday, Feb. 3. Students also expressed their thoughts on their preferred candidates and the importance of the primary election process. However, the results of the election were delayed on election night due to a “quality control issue” according to The New York Times.

According to The New York Times, a new process for counting votes cast during the Democratic Iowa caucus led to a delay in the reporting of the results. The election reporting process was intended to use an app to report the results, which caused the issue. However, The New York Times reported that the issue is only with reporting results, according to Mandy McClure, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party. The backup system, which uses paper-based tabulation, will take longer to announce the results, though the result will be reliable, according The New York Times.

Students expressed exasperation regarding the delay. “The Iowa Democratic Party had one job” said Mike Kozinski, “they’ve been doing it every four years for a while now. It is unacceptable that voters do not get the results within a timely manner.”

Despite the delay, other students remained positive both about the ongoing caucus process, and the reportedly record turnout this cycle. Iowa “is the first state to put in any opinion about the candidates and if you don’t do well in Iowa often times people will drop out and don’t get the press they need” said Phebe Guenther ’23, “so by them voicing their opinions they are impacting the candidacy in a big way.”

Speaking in favor of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Hannah Ableman ’22 said “my goal at the moment is just beating Donald Trump, so she’s the person that I think has the most likely hood of that. Bernie [Sanders] is cool but he is just so far left … I like Pete [Buttigieg] but he doesn’t have the most experience.” 

Around seven students gathered in Stern 102 for a caucus watch party hosted by the Political Science Majors Committee. Committee-member Cailey Cummins ’20 explained “it was cool to hear that some of the caucuses have had record turnouts. It’s heartening to see people be more engaged.” Cummins added “I think it’s cool that the major committee can support student interest in American politics in this way.”

“I think it really might be Bernie. I also think that, either way, Iowa is a very small chunk of the country that’s not necessarily representative of Democratic politics as a whole” said Noah Frank ’20, “I think the narrative running up to Super Tuesday will be shaped by whoever wins in Iowa.”

“I think Biden is going to be the Democratic candidate, I don’t necessarily want him, but it feels like the most likely” said Victoria Gralla ’22. 

Some students expressed a dislike for all candidates however. “I don’t think any of the candidates represent America as a whole” Stephanie Henderson ’23 said.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Sarah Niebler explained in an email that the caucusing process itself can be time consuming because it in effect is an “in-person primary election. Instead of showing up anytime throughout the day, Democratic voters (who can register up until the night of the caucus) show up in person at their precinct and express their preference for who they want to be the Democratic nominee.” Niebler said that the delay in the caucusing process comes because candidates are required to attain certain voting thresholds, and a second round of voting is held after first choice candidates who do not receive the requisite number of votes are eliminated. 

Niebler continued that the importance of the Iowa caucus is that because Iowa votes first in the primary election cycle, it allows candidates to build momentum going into later primaries. “Iowa doesn’t necessarily determine who will be the nominee, but a poor showing in the Iowa caucus can lead to candidates withdrawing from the contest, especially if their lack of performance” Niebler explained, “momentum is what matters, so it’s not always about who wins the contest outright, but who does better (or worse) than they were expected to do.”

As of print time on Feb. 04 at 11:16 p.m., The New York Times reported Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) in the lead with 26.9 percent of the vote, followed by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) with 25.1 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) polling in the mid-teens. 62 percent of precincts were reporting at print time, according to The New York Times.