Analyzing Misleading Caucus Results

As this guest author shows, Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t the only Iowa Democrats who support major reforms to the caucus system. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There has been a lot of discussion across the state of Iowa over the past six months about the future of the caucus process. The Iowa Caucus Review Committee appears to be in willful denial about the problems of the caucus process. Last week, Jeff Cox wrote an article that said the process was rigged. This article will examine the popular vote numbers from a few different sources and simply ask for clarity from the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) on how many people were for each candidate. In a society where items can be purchased from a smartphone, there is no reason to keep the results convoluted and hidden from the general public.

The complex caucus math, while relished by Chairman Dave Nagle, is no way for the state to represent itself as “First in the Nation.” The quirky math has no place when selecting nominees for the next leader of the United States. The confusion of the process led to incorrect conclusions of the process being rigged or fraudulent in favor of one candidate. I ask the Iowa Democratic Party to release the popular vote to eliminate doubt of the process being rigged in favor of one candidate.

When I first sought out popular vote numbers, I found this link which results were provided by volunteers at the precinct level.

Those results, while obviously incomplete, provide an insight into how Bernie Sanders was hindered by delegate math, and for a lot of people new to the process, it may appear “rigged” or fraudulent. For example, in my home county of Dubuque, Precinct 16 according to this site, Sanders had 84 caucus attendees, and Clinton had 40. However, the delegate split was 3-2 and was confirmed by the Iowa Democratic Party. I was a Hillary Clinton supporter and my observation is that there was no real benefit for Bernie Sanders turning out 84 or 41 in that particular precinct, it wouldn’t have mattered. Sanders still earned three delegates to Hillary’s two. When Bernie Sanders brought a lot of new people to the process, having confusing procedures and indirect reporting of results leads some supporters to believe the process was rigged. The results provided by the IDP didn’t present an accurate representation of who showed up in the precinct that night. If the Iowa Democratic Party released the totals of how many people attended for each candidate in each precinct, it would have significantly reduced doubt about the process and the results the process produced.

I also sought to verify the claim that Iowa had 173,000 caucus attendees and each result site I analyzed, I found that claim to be significantly off. First, I analyzed the New York Times results and I found that the number of attendees was 33,000 people lower than claimed by the IDP. The spreadsheet that I compiled these results in is linked here. Apparently, these results just multiplied state delegate equivalents by 10.

[Note from desmoinesdem: the New York Times site and some others used numbers reported by the Associated Press; those created a lot of confusion because they appeared to be (but were not) raw supporter totals.]

Without the Iowa Democrats releasing the hard numbers on caucus night, there is doubt that remains that 173,000 participated, it could be higher or lower.

Simply put, even if the 173,000 total attendees were true, I want an election and Presidential nomination process that is clear, direct and transparent. There should be no satisfaction when votes are suppressed or when turnout numbers are hidden and incomplete. For simplicity’s sake, even if it was the 173,000 as reported by the IDP, it would only represent 29% of total registered Democrats in the state of Iowa, a very small number of voters, especially considering campaigns spent 9 months organizing and trying to mobilize voters.

The current Iowa Caucus on the Democratic side provides neither clarity or transparency. It it is time for significant reform where the vote totals from the people in the room are counted and released, not transferred into delegates at the state level.

This release of the hard numbers for each candidate would not only benefit the public by providing direct, clear results, it would also benefit the IDP. Releasing the hard vote totals would significantly reduce doubt that the party had their fingers on the scale for one candidate or another. Releasing the total attendees would also ensure that the voters voices were heard, and that their voices weren’t lost to the complex caucus math which misled citizens and analysts who sought to understand the caucus results.

Maintenance Notice - As of November 14, 2023 we are still seeing issues with replying to comments...Thanks for your patience, this will be restored.