Editorial: Why the Iowa Caucus matters

The Iowa Caucus on Monday was supposed to be an indication of the front running Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election. When officials decided to use an app to collect votes, only partial amounts of data were released and it was discovered the app was flawed. While the rest of the country is waiting for the rest of the results, candidates are trying to figure out what the best plan is based on the information that has already been released.

First, a caucus is a gathering of citizens who are organized into groups to cast an early vote for their preferred candidate. For Democratic caucuses, after the first vote is counted up, groups are able to move to support a different candidate or to try to convince other people to switch and support their candidate. After this intermediate period, there’s a second and final count that divides the percentages of support for each candidate. 

The Iowa Caucus is important because many Americans take the results of this first caucus as a sign of which candidates are most likely to win the nomination across the country. It is also a lead up to the New Hampshire primary, the first primary election in the country. Originally, people across the country expected to see the full results of the caucuses at the end of the day on February 3rd. Because of the coding issue with the app, only part of the results had been released by 5pm on February 4th. As of 1pm on February 5th, Pete Buttigieg is leading with 26.2 percent of votes, followed by Bernie Sanders with 26.1 percent  of votes, Elizabeth Warren at 18.2 percent, and Joe Biden at 15.8 percent. There are still some votes left to be released, but the only candidates who could be significantly affected by this are Biden and Buttigieg, because their numbers are so close. Thursday the 6th, Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, called for a re-evaluation of all worksheets from caucus sites to make sure the already released information is accurate. 

The technology mishap has raised criticism over whether or not the Iowa caucus is even a necessary tradition. Senator Durbin said on Tuesday the Iowa caucus has always been an unreliable prediction for voters because few people can actually find the time to make it to the caucuses, and that it’s time to disregard the custom. Others, like Iowan senator Chuck Grassley, said that the delay in results is only a minor problem and won’t affect the election at all, and should continue to be important to the election process.

After the caucuses, candidates and voters are looking towards the New Hampshire primary on the 11th. A win in this primary election, especially for these frontrunning candidates, would secure more support for following primaries in states with a lot of electoral college votes, like California and Florida.

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