What Happened With the Iowa Caucus?


Democratic caucus goers sitting in a local gym before the first round of voting. [Photo credit: Flickr]

The 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus results are confusing, to say the least. The confusion, along with the wary outcome, came partly due to Iowa’s unique party nominee system.


Iowa has the earliest caucus date. On this particular day, the state’s registered Democrats conjoin in school gyms, community centers and public facilities. In these hundred or so locations distributed across the precincts, Democrats publicly voice out their support for a possible presidential candidate. Voters will then physically stand in designated locations that represent their candidate. 


Each candidate must have at least 15 percent of the location’s present voters in order to pass the first round of counting votes, labeling the passing candidates as “viable.” If the nominee fails to reach the first round’s threshold of 15 percent, the representing group disperses. 


Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price speaking. [Photo credit: Associated Press]

There are then two new possibilities for dispersed group members. The first choice is to join with a second candidate who remains in the running. The second possibility is to completely withdraw from the next round of counting votes. During this intermediate stage, “viable” nominee groups attempt to persuade uncommitted members to join their group. 


The whole concept behind Iowa’s public approach to caucuses allows the civilians to spark open political discussion. Forcing democratic voters to explain their reasoning behind a potential candidate helps create a well-informed public, encouraging Iowans to see all sides of an argument. 


After the final tally is drawn up, each of the precinct’s viable candidates receives a number of state delegates proportioned to the nominee’s percent of the total tally. The Democratic Party nomination from the Democratic National Convention goes to the nominee who acquired the most delegates from all the states, not just Iowa. 


By getting the party nomination, the candidate will run alongside the predicted Republican nomination, Donald Trump, for the official presidency. 


The process of the Iowa Caucus provides candidates feedback on the weaknesses and strengths of their personal campaign, simulating the success the nominee may have in other states. 


In the recent Iowa caucus, the 2020 current results record Pete Buttigieg as the candidate with the highest voting percentage, at 26.2%. Bernie Sanders leads behind Buttigieg at 26.1%. Warren lies third with 18%, and Biden comes in fourth place with 15.8%. 


Though, a new problem arises with the current numbers. About 10 percent of the locations report errors in their counting. For instance, in Dallas County’s Precinct PK3 polls show the final round of counting votes are higher than the initial amount of votes to begin with. Precinct PK3 is only one of many other locations with the same issues. 


Precinct workers in Iowa review caucus votes by hand. [Photo credit: Reuters]

“I am anticipating chaos and anarchy,” said John Deeth, a Democratic Party activist and a member of the Johnson County Democrats executive committee. 


Another problem with finding accurate results is the incorrect distribution of delegates. Webster’s county, Precinct CR, distributed four delegates to four different viable candidates. Although, the location only had 3 delegates to hand out. 


“I know with 100 percent certainty that was a good-faith mistake,” said Steve Drahozal, the Democratic party chairman for Dubuque County. 


An app was originally meant to be used for menial vote counting. Because of glitches with the app and some locations neglecting the use of the app completely, human errors riddle the true results of the Iowa 2020 democratic caucuses. 


On top of the many calculation mistakes, investigators found out that a few precincts unknowingly broke the rules of the system, or improperly followed standard regulations. Ongoing investigation occurs, as investigators attempt to sort out all the mistakes and inaccuracies. No single candidate has been declared a winner as a result, although a partial recount has been conducted with Buttigieg still leading. However, the results will not become official until the results are certified, leaving time for further corrections for possible mistakes.