Maybe, maybe not. The initial results, with 100 percent of precincts finally reporting, show Pete Buttigieg winning the state delegates race by...one tenth of one percent -- while Bernie Sanders won the raw vote totals (i.e. the "popular vote") on both the first and second 'rounds' of caucusing. Pete is calling it a win. So is Bernie. Given all sorts of irregularities and confusion, the Associated Press simply threw up its hands last evening:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press is unable to declare a winner in Iowa’s 2020 Democratic caucuses.— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) February 6, 2020
According to a New York Times analysis, more than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses. In some cases, vote tallies do not add up. In others, precincts are shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the Iowa Democratic Party’s reported results do not match those reported by the precincts. Some of these inconsistencies may prove to be innocuous, and the irregularities do not indicate an intentional effort to compromise or rig the result. There is no apparent bias in favor of the leaders Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders, meaning the overall effect on the winner’s margin may be small…The errors suggest that many Iowa caucus leaders struggled to follow the rules of their party’s caucuses, or to adopt the additional reporting requirements introduced since 2016. They show that the Iowa Democratic Party, despite the long delays, failed to validate all of the results fully before releasing them to the public.
The overall effect of the mistakes "may be small," but the margins at play here are infinitesimally small. That's the point. Overall, it seems as though the party didn't know its own rules, didn't count properly, and pushed out results to the public before actually validating them -- despite the humiliatingly long "quality control" delays. A total cluster. How will a statewide recanvass impact the still-unverified results? And it keeps getting worse. I'm beginning to doubt whether this will ever be truly and fully resolved, especially because I can't get this out of my head:
CNN now reporting 2nd alignment was done wrong in some precincts. If true, sounds like there may never be complete results from Iowa.— Tom Wright (@thomaswright08) February 4, 2020
I think I generally share this mindset:
Precisely this. Bernie and Pete will get the same number of DNC delegates when all is said and done. The SDEs are literally meaningless. Only the votes and the DNC delegates matter. https://t.co/c51YBqlOct— Luke Thompson (@ltthompso) February 7, 2020
But wait, Buttigieg might actually get a small edge on DNC delegates, despite his microscopic and unconfirmed lead...which he holds despite winning thousands fewer votes than Sanders. Good times. Meanwhile, with Joe Biden in some real peril, he's received some welcome news out of South Carolina. A new poll shows his firewall holding for now:
???? @JoeBiden Up by 18 in New South Carolina Primary Poll— Chris D. Jackson (@ChrisDJackson) February 7, 2020
In the poll, Sanders is in third and Bloomberg is at 1%.
East Carolina University Poll
Jan 31-Feb 2, 2020
469 LV pic.twitter.com/vDtDUZlSjy
First of all, Steyer? Secondly, would a solid Biden win in the Palmetto State help him find his footing and reverse Bernie's momentum (assuming the Vermont socialist wins at least one of the next two contests, of not both)? It might, but a surging Buttigieg and a no-longer-freefalling Biden and a cash-flush Bloomberg waiting for Super Tuesday could be a disaster waiting to happen for the non-Bernie Democratic coalition. Liberal writer Jonathan Chait explains:
While Sanders has not expanded beyond a minority of the party, he has consolidated support of the party’s left wing, and while its mainstream liberal wing is split between numerous contenders, it is hard to see how the situation is likely to improve soon. Indeed, it could get worse, much worse. The liberal conundrum begins with Joe Biden. The former vice-president led national polls until very recently, and has been the most plausible mainstream liberal candidate. At the same time, doubts about his ability to handle the rigors of the campaign at an advanced age have caused the Democratic Party to withhold the institutional support it gave Hillary Clinton. Yet his name was big enough to preclude a younger, more vigorous Democrat from emerging in the ideological space he occupied. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris all tried and failed to run as ideological heirs of Barack Obama, because Obama’s actual partner was still there.
Yet Biden underperformed in Iowa, and his campaign appears to be deflating, at least momentarily. So what to do? One strategy would be to rally around him, on the grounds that no other candidate has or will have his name recognition and ties to black voters. The other strategy is to hope his campaign collapses as quickly as possible, so that another contender can emerge. (More about them below.) At the moment it is not clear which strategy makes sense. And in the absence of an effective party to coordinate, the most likely scenario is a combination of the two: Some Democrats back Biden, others defect, and others wait to see what happens. That would be the worst possible outcome: a long, slow, painful death that prevents another liberal from taking his place and allows Sanders to gain unstoppable momentum.
I'm not saying it's time for the anyone-but-Bernie crowd to panic, but it's unclear what the game plan will be if Sanders consolidates the progressive wing and all the 'moderates' stick around deep into the race. I'll leave you with another sign of Elizabeth Warren's implosion:
News: Warren's Nevada team in tumult as 6 staffers, all women of color, have departed the roughly 70-person campaign in the final stretch w/ complaints of a toxic work environment in which they felt tokenized and w/ state senior leadership at loggerheads. https://t.co/IxZtCX81Qu— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) February 6, 2020
Guess who she's blaming?