Nathan Robinson, The Guardian - February 4, 2020
"If the Sanders team’s count is close to accurate (bear in mind, it was only 40% of caucus sites), he had the night he needed to have. The progressive vote is still being split between Sanders and Warren, but at least Biden hasn’t managed to capitalize on that so far. The good news for Sanders is that, even if Buttigieg does unexpectedly well, Mayor Pete is destined to struggle as the campaign moves toward more racially diverse states. But all of the results remain speculative, since the Iowa Democratic party seemed determined to prove that we need a political revolution that overthrows the party establishment."
If you’re the type of person who thinks the Democratic party is a creaking, incompetent entity whose leadership needs overthrowing, the Iowa caucuses certainly validated your point of view. None of us knew who would win, but we had at least expected a result. We didn’t get one, at least not on caucus night. State Democratic party officials announced that due to “quality control” issues, release of the result would be indefinitely delayed. On a conference call with representatives of the candidates, party officials hung up the phone when asked when the totals would be released.
So what do we know? Well, one thing we can say confidently is that “frontrunner” Joe Biden flopped. There were places where Biden didn’t even meet the 15% threshold needed to maintain viability from the first round to the second round – at one caucus site, the attorney general of Iowa had to switch from Biden to Buttigieg when Biden was disqualified. It explains why Biden’s surrogate John Kerry was heard on the phone the other day asking whether it would be possible for him to enter the race at the last minute to save the Democratic party from being conquered by Sanders.
Internal numbers released by the Sanders campaign, showing results from 40% of caucus sites, showed Sanders winning with approximately 30% of the vote, Pete Buttigieg coming in second with 25%, Elizabeth Warren third with 21%, and Joe Biden a very distant fourth with 12%. If those numbers match the ultimate totals, they are great for Sanders and absolutely horrific for Biden. Sanders will have kicked the crap out of the frontrunner, Barack Obama’s former vice-president and the man most favored to win the nomination. It would be a stunning upset.
But Biden caught a lucky break. With the party not releasing the actual result, his campaign sent a letter demanding that the result be suppressed until such time as the “quality control issues” were resolved. If it takes long enough to get the official count, Biden may hope that Iowa is old news, or that the issues surrounding the caucus are discussed far more than the actual result. (That’s one reason we need to make sure we don’t get bogged down too much in talking about the procedural issues rather than the actual outcome.)
So what went wrong? It’s still not quite clear, though there were reports that a special app used to transmit vote totals had malfunctioned. Questions were immediately raised about who built the app and how it had been deployed. Ironically, it was introduced in order to “get results out to the public quicker” and had been “hastily put together” over the last two months. There had been security concerns from the start, and when NPR questioned the state party chairman, he “declined to provide more details about which company or companies designed the app, or about what specific measures have been put in place to guarantee the system’s security”. Ironically, it was apparently developed by a firm literally called “Shadow”, partly funded by the Pete Buttigieg campaign. ...
Read full report at The Guardian