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The Iowa Caucus Conundrum

Blake Berry '23

Politics Editor

Presidential Election year has once again come upon us, and the many different processes that go into determining who will become current President Donald Trump’s competitor have already begun. One such event, the Iowa Caucus, took place on Feb. 3 of this year and brought with it major controversy that swept through the entirety of the Democratic Party.

Not to be confused with a primary, a caucus is another voting process used to determine which of the many candidates of political parties will be nominated to run as the Presidential candidate for the party they represent. The Iowa Caucus takes importance in the nomination process, as Iowans are the first to cast their votes.

However, this time around, the caucus was far more important. The results for the Iowa caucus were highly anticipated, as many Americans awaited to see which Democrat would be the one to take the lead in the race towards the nomination. And as caucus day came to an end, not all of the votes had been accounted for. Regardless of this, candidate Pete Buttigieg claimed victory in Iowa, to the shock of many. How could someone say they had won something that hadn’t even released results yet, especially with most of the pre-caucus polls predicting that Bernie Sanders would be the candidate to win Iowa?

This is the question that circulated through all forms of media over the course of the following days as the slow-fed information of the final results began to drip out to the public. It would seem as though there were a variety of problems plaguing the Iowa caucus, and they weren’t all easy to solve. One of the major controversies that originated from the caucus was the use of an app that would calculate the votes collected to provide the public with information as quickly as possible. The app allegedly malfunctioned, a fault that the developers now claim was due to “inadequate testing,” yet this wasn’t the issue that sent the internet into a fury.

One of the key funders for the app was the campaign team of self-proclaimed winner of Iowa, Pete Buttigieg. Many voters felt cheated by this announcement. Some raised concerns over how one can ensure that Buttigieg hadn’t been the cause for this delay which possibly allowed him to claim an early victory in Iowa? Buttigieg’s campaign team denied their involvement in the creation of the app, along with claims that the $42,000 they provided to Shadow Inc., the program’s developers, was simply to fund text based notifications for app users.

The drama continued throughout the following days, with Americans anxiously waiting for the full 100% of the votes to be released. But yet another candidate wouldn’t wait for the entirety of the votes to become public before also claiming victory: only three days later, Bernie Sanders said that he had, in fact, won the Iowa Caucus. Now that the event has ultimately concluded, we can look back at the failure of the Iowa caucus to hopefully learn a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions.

When the final results were released, Buttigieg and Sanders had actually tied by count of votes; nonetheless, Buttigieg earned thirteen delegates, while Sanders earned twelve. This makes it seem as if Buttigieg took the victory, but it is too close to say. As of Feb. 20, Buttigieg and Sanders are looking into a recount of the caucus votes to determine who the true Iowa victor is. Although the Democrats had an extremely complicated and confusing caucus in Iowa, the Republicans had an excessively simple experience, with President Trump receiving 97.1% of the caucus votes, and his two competitors, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, claiming 1.3% and 1.1% of the vote respectively.

Following the caucus in Iowa, the New Hampshire primary took place on Feb. 11, with Sanders and Buttigieg both earning nine delegates, but Sanders came out with the popular vote of 25.7% to Buttigieg’s 24.4% in what is almost a mirrored result of that in Iowa. February had two more important events, with the caucus in Nevada on Feb. 22 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29. This is only the beginning of the process of determining who will become the Democratic nominee, and who will ultimately face President Trump in November.

With the infamous Super Tuesday (a day of fifteen primaries and one caucus) on Mar. 3 quickly approaching and major controversy already coming to light at the first event, the race for deciding the Democrat nominee is destined to be a complicated topic. Many candidates have already dropped out of the race for Democrat nominee since December, with frontrunners like Cory Booker and Andrew Yang receding from the Presidential race as the pack begins to thin out. Regardless of what happens in the upcoming months before November, one individual of the remaining frontrunning candidates (Buttigieg, Sanders, Klobuchar, Biden, Bloomberg, Warren) will be the name on the ballot against current President Donald Trump.

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