The Political Rundown

A chaotic caucus leads into more primaries this month

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Tiana Kuchta

More stories from Tiana Kuchta

The Political Rundown
February 17, 2020
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The Political Rundown

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We left off last week anxiously awaiting the results of the Iowa caucus and the wait went on and on. 

A technical failure in a new app originally meant to streamline reports led to chaos amongst the precincts. 

As precinct chairs tried to call in results instead, phone lines got backed up, which left many precincts unsure of how to proceed, according to CNN.

The failure of this app and the confusion that followed meant results were not available for candidates or news outlets until Tuesday, Feb. 4 or later. 

To make it all a little crazier, NBC News said the “results are rife with potential errors and inconsistencies that could affect the outcome of the election.” 

This concern is especially prevalent considering the difference between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders is just one-tenth of a percent, according to CNN. Buttigieg is currently thought to be in the lead with 26.2 percent, followed by Sanders with 26.1 percent, Elizabeth Warren with 18.1 percent, Joe Biden with 15.8 percent and Amy Klobuchar with 12.3 percent. 

Though there is a chance these numbers could change, candidates did not waste any time after the Iowa Caucus before they headed to New Hampshire for a debate held Friday, Feb. 7, which was in preparation for the primary Tuesday, Feb. 11. 

The New York Times speculates the confusion in Iowa stopped the lower polling candidates from dropping out before New Hampshire, but it also led to a rise in tension throughout the debate where topics ranged from gun policy to abortion. 

Another source of tension can be attributed to voter turnout, which — while higher than 2016 — was lower than expected, according to The Associated Press

“The number is certain to rattle Democrats who are banking on high turnout in battlegrounds across the country to win in November,” Thomas Beaumont, reporter for The Associated Press, said. “It raises doubts about whether Iowa is winnable by Democrats, after a recent shift toward Republicans.”

As discussed last week, the Iowa caucus is seen as a first look at what voters actually think. This smaller turnout could mean Democratic candidates have not done enough on the campaign trail, or it could mean citizens choose to remain detached from politics. 

Either way, it will be important to keep an eye on Buttigieg and Sanders going into these first primaries. 

Across the aisle, one of three Republican candidates, Joe Walsh, has dropped out of the race. He explained his choice in a Washington Post op-ed. 

“I realized once and for all that nobody can beat Trump in a Republican primary,” Walsh said. “Not just because it’s become his party, but because it has become a cult, and he’s a cult leader. He doesn’t have supporters; he has followers. In their eyes, he can do no wrong.” 

This news came right after President Donald Trump was acquitted of both impeachment articles on Feb. 5, bringing an end to the Senate trial.  

With Walsh out, there is only Trump and William Weld still who still run as Republican candidates. 

It seems the impeachment trial did not hurt Trump’s support — as Walsh alluded to — and he got 97.1 percent support in Iowa while Walsh only got 1.3 percent. 

Kuchta can be reached at [email protected]