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What in the Malarkey Happened in Iowa???


Written by Joey Slusher

The Iowa Caucuses took place on Monday, February 3. The Iowa Caucuses signal the official start of primary season during a presidential election year. Every four years, Iowans gather in their local polling place and run a caucus to determine who people want for their party nominee.

Rather than decide on a candidate through a typical vote via ballot, Caucus attendees gather into groups in certain corners of a room to show support for a particular candidate. Round by round, if your candidate is knocked out, you move to another candidate’s camp, eventually landing on one or a few candidates that that precinct wants to support.

This process is antiquated and became even more muddled this year by the use of an app meant to simplify the process. Instead, the app messed up the entire system and caused a number of inconsistencies in the votes, requiring extra time to discern the results. This breakdown caused the announcement of the results to be delayed by over two full days.

This contrasted with years where the results were announced far earlier. In 2008, when President Obama was running for the democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton, the Caucuses started at the state-wide time of 8:00 p.m., and Obama was named the victor by 9:30 p.m. In 2016, it took about the same time for the results to be announced. Meanwhile, by 5:00 p.m. last Tuesday, only 42 percent of results had been released, not nearing 80 percent until Thursday.

In spite of this, a number of candidates stated that they had “insider” information that pointed to them being the victor before even a trickle of polling data had been made public. These included Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigeig of South Bend, Ind.. Buttigeig went so far as to take to the stage and announce that he had won the most delegates from Iowa and would be “going into New Hampshire,” the next primary, “victorious.”

In this case, Buttigeig had good sources, as he had in fact come in first in the caucuses with about 26.2 percent of the vote. This was a shocking development, as Buttigeig was considered a minor candidate, having only served as mayor and been in the military prior to running for President.

Behind him was Bernie Sanders, with about 26.1 percent, who had been expected to take second and is predicted by a number of polls to take first in New Hampshire, which borders his home state of Vermont. After Bernie was Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who had about 18 percent support in Iowa. Finally, Joe Biden came in an unexpected fourth place, with only 15.8 percent of the vote. Biden, according to most polls, was originally slated to take first or second place among candidates.

It will be interesting to see the results of the New Hampshire primaries, particularly if Buttigeig can somehow ride this wave of support, or if the Biden or Bernie campaigns will rise above and win. The New Hampshire primaries take place on Tuesday, February 11.