The Iowa caucus has descended into farce for the Democrats, providing Donald Trump with more ammo for his claim that the party rigs votes.
The Democrats have lost the Iowa caucus. While confused officials rush to tally votes and decide which candidate has formally won, the truth is the real winner is Donald Trump.
The Iowa Democratic caucus descended into “anger, chaos and confusion” last night, as it failed to deliver results before midnight. As a result, the Democratic Party has provided more ammunition for Trump’s longstanding claim that presidential elections are rigged. So what was once “Crooked Hiliary” could soon become “Crooked” Pete, Bernie or Joe.
Observers expected results from the Iowa caucus to arrive well before midnight yesterday. Instead, officials told the Democratic candidates not to expect results until later today. The reason? The new system they’d introduced had detected “inconsistencies” between the three sets of votes it needed to count.
Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Mandy McClure said in a statement:
We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.
Oh dear. And with the discovery of “inconsistencies,” supporters of the main candidates have been quick to sling mud at each other. Most Twitter netizens seemed to have saved their recriminations primarily for South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, who had used the delay in counting to pre-emptively declare victory. Because within hours of the news, the “#MayorCheat” hashtag was trending on Twitter.
In fact, investigative reporter Lee Fang tweeted that the Iowa caucus app was developed by a company called Shadow. And according to The Intercept journalist, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign is one of the company’s principal financial backers.
So Buttigieg has some explaining to do. But even worse than turning different elements within the Democratic Party on each other, the Iowa caucus has given plenty of ammunition to Trump.
Also within hours of news of the delay, his supporters were on Twitter claiming that the Democrats are “again” gearing up to rig an election.
Republican claims that Democrats like to rig elections are becoming increasingly common. Back in January 2017, one of President Trump’s first actions was to promise a “major investigation into voter fraud”. He had claimed that as many as five million illegal votes had been cast for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He repeated such claims in 2018, telling a West Virginia rally:
In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You’ve probably heard about that. They always like to say that’s a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.
Even Trump’s own attorneys have conceded that there’s no real evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election. Still, the claims of vote-rigging stick. In response, Republican states pass laws making it harder for people – usually poorer ethnic minorities – to vote.
This is why the Iowa caucus mess is such a massive own goal for the bumbling Democrats. By giving Republicans another excuse to claim “voter fraud,” they may end up reducing the number of people eligible to vote for them.