Friday August 7th, 2020 12:25AM

Red-faced Democrats struggle to announce caucus results

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democratic party officials in Iowa worked furiously Tuesday to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus, as frustrated presidential candidates claimed momentum and plowed ahead in their quest for the White House.

In a statement early Tuesday, the Iowa Democratic Party blamed a “coding issue in the reporting system” that it said has since been fixed. The problem kept party officials from releasing results from Monday's caucus, the much-hyped kickoff to the 2020 primary. It was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting the contest as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled field with no clear front-runner.

Instead, caucus day ended with no winner, no official results and many fresh questions about whether Iowa can retain its coveted “first” status.

State party officials planned a mid-morning phone call with angry campaigns to update them on progress. The party said Tuesday its plan was to release results “as soon as possible" later Tuesday. It said it had verified the accuracy of the collected data and said the problem was not a result of “a hack or an intrusion."

Still, there were signs that the process was ongoing and laborious. Party official were sending volunteers and staffers across the state to retrieve hard-copy results so they could check them against numbers reported from precincts via a mobile app that proved problematic for many users and over the phone. That was according to multiple sources working for the state party and granted anonymity to discuss sensitive party information.

The caucus meltdown came after tens of thousands of voters spent hours Monday night sorting through a field of nearly a dozen candidates who had spent much of the previous year fighting to win the opening contest of the 2020 campaign and, ultimately, the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump this fall.

The candidates didn't wait for the party to resolve its issues before claiming, if not victory, progress and moving on to next-up New Hampshire.

“It looks like it’s going to be a long night, but we’re feeling good," former Vice President Joe Biden said, suggesting the final results would “be close.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he had “a good feeling we're going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa” once results were posted. “Today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," he predicted.

"Listen, it’s too close to call," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. "The road won’t be easy. But we are built for the long haul."

And Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was most certain.

“So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation,” he said. "By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

Democrats faced the possibility that whatever numbers they ultimately released would be questioned. And beyond 2020, critics began wondering aloud whether the Iowa caucuses, a complicated set of political meetings staged in a state that is whiter and older than the Democratic Party, are a tradition whose time had passed.

The party has tried to accommodate critics, this year by promising to report three different data points about voters' preferences, presumably improving transparency. But the new system created new headaches.

State party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said it had “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results," forcing officials to try to verify results with “underlying data” and the paper trail.

Some of the trouble stemmed from issues with a new mobile app developed to report results to the party. Caucus organizers reported problems downloading the app and other glitches.

Des Moines County Democratic Chair Tom Courtney said the new app created “a mess.” As a result, Courtney said precinct leaders were phoning in results to the state party headquarters, which was too busy to answer their calls in some cases.

Organizers were still looking for missing results several hours after voting concluded.

Shortly before 2 a.m., the state party was making plans to dispatch people to the homes of precinct captains who hadn't reported their numbers. That's according to a state party official in the room who was not authorized to share internal discussions publicly.

Earlier in the night, Iowa Democrats across the state cast their votes, balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat Trump. At least four high-profile candidates vied for the lead in a contest that offered the opening test of who and what the party stands for in the turbulent age of Trump.

It's just the first in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending at the party’s national convention in mid-July.

For Democrats, the moment was thick with promise for a party that has seized major gains in states since Trump won the White House in 2016. But instead of clear optimism, a growing cloud of uncertainty and intraparty resentment hung over the election as the prospect of an unclear result raised fears of a long and divisive primary fight in the months ahead.

One unsurprising development: Trump won the Republican caucus, a largely symbolic victory given that he faced no significant opposition.

The president eagerly seized on the Democrats' problems.

“The Democrat Caucus is an unmitigated disaster,” Trump tweeted early Tuesday. “Nothing works, just like they ran the Country.” He added: "The only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is ‘Trump.’”

Pre-caucus polls suggested Sanders entered the night with a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates — Sanders, Biden, Warren and Buttigieg — was positioned to score a victory. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents neighboring Minnesota, was also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates including entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.

"We know one thing: We are punching above our weight,” Klobuchar said late Monday, promising to keep fighting in New Hampshire.

New voters played a significant role in shaping Iowa's election.

About one-quarter of all voters reported that they were caucusing for the first time, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses. The first-timers were slightly more likely to support Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg, compared with other candidates.

At the same time, VoteCast found that roughly two-thirds of caucusgoers said supporting a candidate who would fundamentally change how the system in Washington works was important to their vote. That compared to about a third of caucusgoers who said it was more important to support a candidate who would restore the political system to how it was before Trump’s election in 2016.

Not surprisingly, nearly every Iowa Democrat said the ability to beat Trump was an important quality for a presidential nominee. VoteCast found that measure outranked others as the most important quality for a nominee.

The 2020 fight has already played out over myriad distractions, particularly congressional Democrats' push to impeach Trump, which has often overshadowed the primary and effectively pinned several leading candidates to Washington at the pinnacle of the early campaign season.

Meanwhile, ultrabillionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is running a parallel campaign that ignored Iowa as he prepares to pounce on any perceived weaknesses in the field come March.

The amalgam of oddities was building toward what could be a murky Iowa finale before the race pivoted quickly to New Hampshire, which votes Feb. 11.

For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party planned to report three sets of results: a tally of caucusgoers’ initial candidate preference; vote totals from the “final alignment” after supporters of lower-ranking candidates were able to make a second choice; and the total number of State Delegate Equivalents each candidate receives.

There is no guarantee that all three will show the same winner when they're ultimately released.

The Associated Press will declare a winner based on the number of state delegates each candidate wins, which has been the traditional standard.


Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Red-faced Democrats struggle to announce caucus results
The Iowa Democratic Party is blaming a “coding issue in the reporting system” for its delay in releasing caucus results
11:28AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Golf rulers says increased distance must be slowed
The R&A and USGA have released a two-year project showing that golfers at all levels keep hitting the ball so far that it's hurting the game
11:26AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Montana lawmaker rejects resigning over socialism comments
A Montana lawmaker has rejected legislative leaders' call for his resignation over his assertion that the U.S. Constitution allows socialists to be jailed or shot
11:25AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump faces accusers: What to watch during his big speech
President Donald Trump will be facing his accusers night during his State of the Union speech
10:47AM ( 1 hour ago )
Changing counts reveal inexact science of calorie labels
Almonds may have fewer calories than previously believed, showing the inexact science of how the numbers can be calculated
10:40AM ( 1 hour ago )
Democratic convention host committee leaders put on leave
The two leaders of Milwaukee's host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention have been placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations that they oversaw a toxic work environment
10:38AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
In embarrassing twist, Democrats have no Iowa caucus results
Democratic Party officials in Iowa are working furiously to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus
9:32AM ( 2 hours ago )
Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi dies at 95
Daniel arap Moi, a former schoolteacher who became Kenya’s longest-serving president and presided over years of repression and economic turmoil fueled by runaway corruption, has died
8:40AM ( 3 hours ago )
What went wrong: Tech troubles behind delay in Iowa results
A new mobile app is being blamed for the delay in in reporting the results of Iowa's 1,700 caucuses
8:26AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Dems say delay due to coding error, results soon
The Iowa Democratic Party says delays in reporting the outcome of Monday's caucuses were due to a coding issue that has been fixed
9:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
Caroline Kennedy backs Biden, calls him Democrats' best bet
Caroline Kennedy has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, calling him Democrats' “best bet" to win the White House, keep the gains they made in the House and "put the Senate in play
8:53AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Caroline Kennedy endorses Biden amid focus on NH
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been endorsed by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late John F
8:43AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Iowa precinct chair says voting app had problems
An Iowa precinct chairwoman says she did not use the new app created for caucus organizers to report results because organizers had problems trying to download and test it
12:25AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP VoteCast: Iowa Democratic voters seek fundamental change
The first voters to make their choice in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination are desperate for fundamental change to the political system
12:10AM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Expert: New technology 'risky' close to election
An elections expert says deploying new technology so close to an election is “always a risky proposition” amid a delay in results from Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses
12:09AM ( 11 hours ago )
General Election News
The Latest: Results from Iowa caucuses are slow to come in
The results from the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses have been slow to come
10:43PM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: Caucusgoer weighs Bernie and Amy, votes for Pete
At a precinct site in north Des Moines, caucusgoer Bryan Pollpeter couldn't decide whom to vote for in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses
10:23PM ( 13 hours ago )
Caucus voting underway; Iowa may clarify Democratic field
Iowa voters have packed caucus sites across the state, with Democrats balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat President Donald Trump
10:02PM ( 13 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Iowans head to caucuses, may clarify Democratic field
A Democratic presidential campaign that has cost more than $1 billion, and narrowed but not yet clarified the field of Trump challengers has arrived at its first big decision day in the Iowa caucuses
6:51PM ( 16 hours ago )
Snubbing Iowa, Bloomberg charts his own path in 2020 contest
With Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa for its kickoff caucuses, Michael Bloomberg is going his own way
5:56PM ( 17 hours ago )
The Latest: Sanders team mobilizes voters at Iowa university
Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is working to mobilize young voters to caucus for him on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City
5:44PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Democratic caucus results delayed by mobile app issues
Problems with a mobile app appear to have forced a delay in reporting the results of the Iowa caucuses, as the campaigns, voters and the media are pressing party officials for an explanation — and getting few answers
11:48PM ( 12 hours ago )
Republicans lead fundraising in Georgia's dual Senate races
Campaign finance reports show that Georgia’s incumbent Republican U.S. senators have built a healthy fundraising advantage over their rivals in the state’s dual Senate races
3:58PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Buttigieg reacts to Trump campaign Super Bowl ad
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is reacting to a Trump campaign Super Bowl ad about criminal justice reform as the Iowa caucuses are set to kick off
11:55AM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Golf rulers says increased distance must be slowed
The R&A and USGA have released a two-year project showing that golfers at all levels keep hitting the ball so far that it's hurting the game
11:26AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Montana lawmaker rejects resigning over socialism comments
A Montana lawmaker has rejected legislative leaders' call for his resignation over his assertion that the U.S. Constitution allows socialists to be jailed or shot
11:25AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Celebrated book editor Alice Mayhew dies at age 87
The editor of such acclaimed books as “All the President's Men" and “Parting the Waters" has died
11:20AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Shannen Doherty says she is battling stage 4 breast cancer
Shannen Doherty is battling a recurrence of breast cancer that has progressed to stage four
11:17AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Democratic primary pivots to unpredictable New Hampshire
Democratic presidential hopefuls have descended on New Hampshire
11:17AM ( 32 minutes ago )