For the American Democrats, the race for the presidency began with a thunderclap that they would have liked to have avoided. Nothing worked in the first state of Iowa.
The Iowa Democratic Party has had a debacle in the first preselection of the Washington presidential race. As of Tuesday evening (local time), the party was unable to announce any conclusive results due to a cascade of technical breakdowns. The candidate field, which was usually somewhat exposed to Iowa, had already moved on to New Hampshire for the next area code, and everyone involved could either say that they had done well or complain that the result was a suspicious result.
Only provisional results
In the evening, the party finally published the results from 71 percent of the constituencies. Regarding the key number of delegates to the party level at the state level, which ultimately send Iowa’s delegates to the convention, Pete Buttigieg was 26.8 percent ahead of Bernie Sanders (25.2), Elizabeth Warren ( 18.4) and Joe Biden (15.5).
The debacle was due to a programming error in a specially developed mobile app to transmit the election results. The party leadership had obviously not found it necessary to organize exercises for the helpers. This led to contradictory information, which the party leadership did not want to publish. The party leadership emphasized on Tuesday afternoon that the data on the election behavior was reliable and never in danger because everything was recorded on paper in addition to the electronic recording.
Iowa, like every four years, should be the stepping stone that propels Democratic presidential candidates into the serious phase of the race, some moving forward, others moving sideways, and some going nowhere. Instead, chaos broke out. In the news programs, the reporters began to scrutinize every fragment of a suspected fact in order to bridge the nothing in the most eloquent way possible.
Pete Buttigieg opened a small series of declarations of victory without evidence just before he left for the next area code state, New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders and later Amy Klobuchar did not allow themselves to be ragged and soon did the same for the former mayor from South Bend, Indiana.
Joe Biden’s campaign team, shadowed by a cloud of rumors of his candidate’s poor performance, precautionally questioned the integrity of the entire caucus. It gave President Donald Trump a perfect template that the Democrats on Twitter with derision and ridicule showered and reminded of the debacle with the electronic health insurance exchange under the Obama administration.
At a time when skepticism about the digitalization of democratic processes is already growing, Iowa’s debacle certainly didn’t help calm the spirits, even though the Democrats stressed on Tuesday that the problems were not due to hacking. As a precaution, the Democrats in Nevada said where the same app should have been used and decided not to use this “tool”.
But the greatest disservice could have been the Democratic Party in Iowa doing itself. Precisely because its system of party meetings is so time-consuming over several stages and at several levels, the “HawkeyeState” had secured first place in the long series of primaries in the early 1970s. The state managed to defend this status, although criticism had become unmistakable due to the demographic composition of its population – Iowa is significantly whiter than the American average and therefore anything but representative.
The end for the special role?
This is particularly important for the Democrats, the more ethnically diverse party. Various critics immediately demanded that the debacle must have consequences for Iowa’s special role. Among them was the party’s number two in the Washington Senate, Dick Durbin from the neighboring state of Illinois. It is of course not about the ability or inability of the Hawkeye State Democrats to properly organize their caucus. Rather, it is about the concern that the above-average white state will give white applicants an unfair starting advantage. Even if that is not so easy and the party leadership tried to reduce this risk with several reform steps in the organization of the primaries, these voices will become louder, especially, but not only, among dark-skinned Americans.