Democratic presidential candidates declared victory in the Iowa caucuses Monday night although the Iowa Democratic Party did not release the results of the contest. Hours after the caucuses began, the Iowa Democratic Party announced it was delaying the results over what they claimed were reporting inconsistencies in precincts across the state.
“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” Iowa Democratic Party Mandy McClure declared in a statement. “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.”
McClure asserted that the delay in results was not a consequence of any “hack or intrusion,” and said the “underlying data and paper trail is sound.”
The delay has angered campaigns and supporters, depriving the winning candidate of an entire news cycle, which drives more attention and donations. Instead of the first-place finisher enjoying the benefits of dominating the morning news cycle along with appearing in headlines in every newspaper across the country, the caucuses ended without any results made public.
This week’s schedule of events have eroded this year’s benefits of winning in Iowa, with President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night followed by the Senate impeachment vote on Wednesday. Then, CNN will host a new round of town halls with the Democrat candidates Wednesday and Thursday night, with another Democratic debate capping off the week on Friday. Tuesday morning, therefore, was the only potential news cycle that any Iowa caucus winner could have enjoyed to himself or herself in touting a triumphant victory.
The delay from the Iowa Democratic Party prompted the major candidates to declare a victory anyway moving on to New Hampshire, which is slated to hold its primary on Feb. 11. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the first candidate to emerge on stage to address supporters in Iowa.
“Somehow, some way I’m going to get on a plane tonight to New Hampshire,” Klobuchar declared.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren soon followed suit, declaring Monday night a win for their campaigns even as the public is left without any numbers.
“We feel good about where we are, so it’s onto New Hampshire,” Biden announced.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang also declared Iowa a big success for themselves and moving into the next phase of the competitive primary.
Sanders was positioned to do particularly well in the state given the poll numbers showing the Vermont senator with a comfortable lead going into the caucuses. The latest poll conducted by CNN with the Des Moines Register showed Sanders in first place with 22 percent support, although its release was cancelled at the last moment citing issues with the way interviews were conducted.
We can confirm the final results of the unreleased Iowa Poll:
— Clare Malone (@ClareMalone) February 4, 2020
Monday night’s delay has sown further doubts about the legitimacy of the caucus, which Sanders supporters have charged has been unfair, as they did in 2016. Four years ago, Sanders was shorted delegates in areas that favored the Vermont senator over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This year, the delay in results has sparked suspicions that backroom forces to sabotage Sanders’ candidates are again at play. Afterall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to delay the impeachment trial in the Senate coincided perfectly with pulling the senator off the campaign trail in the final two weeks leading to caucus day.
In 2017, former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile accused Clinton in a Politico op-ed of executing a “secret takeover” of the DNC as the 2016 primary got underway.
Sanders supporters have good reason to believe party officials have stacked the deck against Bernie once again given the delay in the results, the spiking of the final poll showing Sanders poised to take home first place, and the impeachment drama sequestering Sanders in Washington over the duration of a critical phase in the primary. The Democratic establishment has also voiced anxiety over a potential Sanders nomination, with former President Barack Obama remarking privately that he would speak out to prevent Sanders from clinching the party’s coronation if it appeared likely.