Democrats cast the first votes in the 2020 Democratic Primary Monday in Iowa. So far, so good — the casting of the votes went fine, but the counting of the votes? Not so much. In a display of incompetence stunning even for the Democratic Party, technical difficulties caused by an app malfunction meant that even as all awoke this morning, there were no results.
Not exactly no results, actually. In the Republican caucus that uses a simpler app-free system of voting, the numbers flowed in and quickly showed Donald Trump had won 97 percent of the vote. The other 3 percent was split evenly between Never Trumpers William Weld and John Walsh. Both this result and the non-result for the Democrats tell us a lot about the current political moment.
The biggest takeaway from the Democratic debacle is that whoever the winners were saw the shine rubbed off their prize significantly. First of all, under the old system in 2016, the results were in by 10 p.m. Eastern Time, allowing for close to prime time victory speeches and a chance to spike the football.
The delay also meant there are no blaring headlines trumpeting the winner in today’s newspapers. This would already be bad enough, but is compounded by the fact that by the time we know the results today, we will already be moving into Senate impeachment speeches this afternoon, the State of the Union address this evening, and the acquittal vote tomorrow. RIP news cycle, we hardly knew ya.
If, as many suspect, Bernie Sanders was among last night’s big winners, the irony is that it was he and his supporters, who felt cheated by the process in 2016, who demanded the changes in the process that led to this entire unfortunate situation.
Also, as bad as this is for the winner or winners, it’s arguably even better for the losers, especially if one of them, as suspected, is Joe Biden. But by the time we come up for air Thursday, Iowa will seem a distant memory as we move into New Hampshire, where hopefully there are Democrats who know how to count.
On the other side, the 97 percent tally for Donald Trump may not seem like a big deal. After all, he is an incumbent president who is popular in the party. But we should look at it within the full context of the last three years. The reason Trump had opposition at all was that his opponents bought into the notion that there is some sizable GOP constituency that wants an alternative to the uncouth commander in chief.
One can hardly blame them. If we watch most cable or network news, read most of the country’s biggest newspapers, and even peruse some “conservative” outlets, we see much dismay at Trump and his ways. If so many Republicans in the pundit class are troubled, so must be many voters who they supposedly influence, no? No.
The GOP takeaway from the shellacking of Never Trump is that it is a hopeless enterprise with a tenuous relationship to reality. There are no throngs of Republican voters yearning for a better choice. They like the president, they like his accomplishments, and they don’t care about the sham impeachment.
In this tale of two caucuses, we see one party in disarray and another firing on all cylinders. That, more than anything, is the big takeaway from this year’s Iowa caucuses.