After Iowa Democratic Party review, Hillary Clinton leads by smaller state delegate margin

After reviewing results in fourteen disputed precincts, the Iowa Democratic Party announced today that new calculations show Hillary Clinton received 700.47 state delegate equivalents (49.84 percent), Bernie Sanders received 696.92 state delegate equivalents (49.59 percent), and Martin O’Malley 7.63 state delegate equivalents (0.54 percent). I enclose below the full statement from the party, with details on the five precincts where county delegate totals had been misreported the night of February 1. In three of those precincts, the Iowa Democratic Party initially reported one too many county delegates for Clinton instead of Sanders. In one precinct, Sanders was allocated a county delegate that should have gone to Clinton. In the last precinct where results were corrected, Sanders was allocated a county delegate that should have gone to O’Malley.

Across 1,681 precincts assigning 11,065 county delegates, a few tabulation or reporting errors are to be expected. That’s why I supported a full review, to dispel any concerns about the accuracy of the results. Contrary to some conspiracy theories I have seen floating around social media, the Iowa Democratic Party could not systematically misreport county delegate totals to give Clinton the victory. Too many witnesses observe what happens in each precinct and would notice if the party got the numbers wrong.

In nine of the precincts the state party reviewed, reported results were found to be correct. The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs explained one supposed example of “fishy” math today. In an Ankeny precinct, 148 people caucused for Sanders and 128 for Clinton. The precinct’s eight county delegates split four to each candidate. Sanders supporter Tucker Melssen thought it was a mistake, and Sanders should have gotten more. Welcome to my world in 1988, Tucker. My candidate had a plurality of caucus-goers in the precinct, but our county delegates split evenly.

Party officials correctly applied the formula used to convert supporters to county delegates in Ankeny 12. Drew Miller’s caucus calculator reveals that if 276 people in a precinct allocating eight county delegates split 148 to 128, each candidate should indeed receive four delegates. Playing around with the calculator, you can see that if Ankeny 12 had allocated nine delegates, Sanders would have gotten five of them. Or, if you leave the delegate total at eight, Sanders would need 156 of the 276 caucus-goers to stand in his corner in order to get five of the precinct’s delegates.

Long before I knew there would be such a close result in an Iowa Democratic caucus, I objected to the sometimes distorting effects of caucus math. Since I published this post on Thursday, many naysayers have told me we can’t ever report raw supporter numbers for each candidate, the way Iowa Republicans caucus. In what other context do Democrats support a system where some voters have more influence over the results than others? Where your voice counts for less if you caucus in a high-turnout precinct or county? Where voters are not able to cast a secret ballot and are excluded from participating because of disability, work or family obligations?

Stop telling me what the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire secretary of state won’t “let” us do to improve the caucuses. Start thinking creatively about how we can make the system more representative and inclusive while preserving Iowa’s place in the nominating calendar. The first step is Iowa Democratic Party leaders being willing to fight for positive change, rather than digging in to defend a flawed status quo. I’m not the only one who sees the need for reform: Clinton supporter Brad Anderson and Sanders supporter Phil Roeder both have extensive Iowa Democratic campaign experience and called for change in recent days.

Iowa Democratic Party press release, February 7:

Iowa Democratic Caucus Results Updated After IDP Completes Review

Des Moines—Over the past week, to ensure the accuracy of our results the Iowa Democratic Party worked with the Sanders campaign, the Clinton campaign and local party leadership to review results from 14 precinct caucuses.

These follow-up reviews were in addition to the work we did on caucus night, where we worked with the campaign representatives in our tabulation room and our precinct and county chairs to resolve any issues that arose from the 1,681 Democratic precincts.

We reviewed the 14 precincts on a case-by-case basis, and in each instance reached out to our precinct and county chairs on the ground for a full accounting of the results. Nine of the 14 precincts were confirmed to be correct as reported on caucus night, while five instances of reporting errors were found:

Marion County, Knoxville 3 Precinct:

Reported As: 5 county convention delegates for Clinton, 4 county convention delegates for Sanders

Confirmed As: 4 county convention delegates for Clinton, 5 county convention delegates for Sanders

Net Change: Sanders gains 0.13 state delegate equivalents (SDEs); Clinton loses 0.13 SDEs

Woodbury County, 43 Oto/Oto Township Precinct:

Reported As: 1 county convention delegate for Clinton

Confirmed As: 1 county convention delegate for Sanders

Net Change: Sanders gains 0.15 SDEs, Clinton loses 0.15 SDEs

Osceola County, Ashton Precinct:

Reported As: 3 county convention delegates for O’Malley, 4 county convention delegates for Sanders

Confirmed As: 4 county convention delegates for O’Malley, 3 county convention delegates [for] Sanders

Net Change: O’Malley gains 0.0167 SDEs, Sanders loses 0.0167 SDEs

Story County, Sherman Township Precinct:

Reported As: 1 county convention delegate for Sanders

Confirmed As: 1 county convention delegate for Clinton

Net Change: Clinton gains 0.23 SDEs, Sanders loses 0.23 SDEs

Poweshiek County, 1st Ward Grinnell:

Reported As: 18 county convention delegates for Sanders, 8 county convention delegates for Clinton

Confirmed As: 19 county convention delegates for Sanders, 7 county convention delegates for Clinton

Net Change: Sanders gains 0.072 SDEs, Clinton loses 0.072 SDEs

Total net Change:

Sanders gains 0.1053 SDEs

Clinton loses 0.122 SDEs

O’Malley gains 0.0167 SDEs

Updated Results:

Clinton: 700.47 SDEs (–0.122 SDEs) 49.84%

Sanders: 696.92 SDEs (+0.1053 SDEs) 49.59%

O’Malley: 7.63 SDEs (+0.0167 SDEs) 0.54%

Uncommitted: 0.46 SDEs (unchanged) 0.03%

The precinct caucuses are just the first step in the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus-to-convention process. In March, county convention delegates will elect delegates to the district and state conventions, who will then elect delegates to represent Iowa at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Following credentialing procedures, if there are disputes on the seating of specific county convention delegates, they will be taken up by the county convention credentialing committees.

“I would like to thank the campaigns and local party leadership for working so hard on caucus night and in the following days to ensure that our results are accurate,” said IDP Chair Dr. Andy McGuire. “I am extremely proud of the collaborative relationship we have with all parties involved, and together we have made updates at five precincts, affecting only five county convention delegates out of more than 11,000 elected on Caucus night.

“We are proud of the more than 171,000 Iowa Democrats who came out to caucus on Monday night for our fantastic candidates and in support of the Democratic values of inclusion, opportunity, and equality. After every caucus, the party goes through a self-examination process to discuss what went right, and what can be improved upon. It’s through this process that this year we launched our first ever Tele-Caucus and satellite caucuses, after we had listened to Iowans telling us we needed to take proactive steps to expand participation.

“This process will continue this year, and in conjunction with our State Central Committee, our partners and our allies, I will convene a committee to ensure we can improve on our caucus process while preserving what makes it special.

“We look forward to our county conventions in March.”

  • In these contexts--

    You ask “in what other contexts do Democrats support a system in which some voters have more influence than others?”

    I think most Iowa Democrats support the electoral college, the US Senate, and even the filibuster. In all three contexts the value of the original voter gets baffled by the system much more than it does in the context of picking a party nominee.

    Even if we had the GOP style straw poll, Iowa votes would still be more influential than Minnesota votes because we will still garner media attention by being first. You seem ready to defend that.

    I have personally raised the issues of the electoral college and the filibuster at my county meetings. The people there defended both practices.

  • Need case studies

    I’d like to see the party publish a set of case studies on caucus errors of the past or of hypothetical situations that might be puzzling. The few examples now in the Delegate Selection Plan are not enough.

    For example, the book does not say what to do if some people sign in but don’t stay for the ultimate regrouping once they see their candidate will get no delegates. I can imagine enough people drifting away that it affects the allocation of that last delegate. What then? One precinct reported on the radio decided to flip a coin. The missing people were enough to capture their own delegate but they were no longer at the caucus. Shouldn’t the delegate have been awarded based on who remained and cared? Are we building an organized party or not?

  • O'Malley's supposed delegates

    What sense has it ever made to say O’Malley earned 7 state delegate equivalents? He would not have been viable in any county convention. He could not have had any state delegates.

    The “state delegate equivalent” fiction must be merely the fraction of county delegates that O’Malley was in line for. If they were all in the same county, they may have indeed claimed seven delegates to the state convention, but we have always known they were not in the same county.

    Does anyone want figure out what the state convention will really looks like?

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