Caucus postmortem: Don't blame the DNC

Ira Lacher highlights key points from the internal review of the 2020 Iowa caucuses, conducted for the Iowa Democratic Party. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa political junkies have another reason to be thankful that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in on January 20.

Since a Democratic nomination fight for the 2024 elections appears unlikely, it means that, like a baseball pitcher undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a horribly injured shoulder, the Iowa caucuses have more time to rehab from their 2020 kerfuffle, which earned worldwide derision.

When the party on December 12 released its postmortem on the 2020 debacle, news outlets were quick to blame the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for much of the trouble. “Iowa autopsy report: DNC meddling led to caucus debacle,” was the headline from Politico. “Iowa caucus mishap fueled by DNC interference, state missteps: autopsy report” chimed in The Hill. From CNN: “Review largely blames Iowa caucus problems on Democratic National Committee.” USA Today and The New York Times also treated the story similarly.

And they were all wrong. Because that’s not what the 29-page report says.

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Iowa Democratic Party vs Democratic voters: Can the shepherd find the sheep?

Glenn Hurst: “Democrats across Iowa are looking for a candidate who is not playing to the middle, the establishment. They want to vote for someone who runs as a Democrat and espouses Democratic values.” -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2016, when Bernie Sanders lost the primary to Hillary Clinton and then Donald Trump won the presidency, Iowa Democrats were at each other’s throats. Blame was laid on the left-leaning voters for not turning out for Clinton. The establishment was accused of running a system to “fix” the nomination for an unpopular candidate.

This intraparty drama was such a common phenomena across the country that a reconciliation committee, a.k.a. the “Unity Panel” was formed to address the conflict.

If my Facebook wall and Twitter feed are a measure of political discontent, the party is absolutely pacified. There has been a relative lack of backroom chatter regarding the presidential outcome this year compared to 2016. The Joe Biden win appears to be taken as a relief and eyes have turned away from questioning why he lost in Iowa. This does not mean the Iowa Democratic Party has wiped its brow and is moving on with business as usual.

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Bernie Sanders’ success in Iowa shows Democratic Party must adapt

Sami Scheetz: Democrats must speak to issues working-class people face and welcome the diverse coalition Bernie Sanders formed in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

For more than 150 years, Iowa has served as a progressive beacon for the rest of the nation. We outlawed the death penalty nearly 60 years ago and became one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009. Contrary to the popular belief that most Midwesterners are centrists, Iowa Democrats have historically been leaders of this nation’s progressive movements.

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Deep dive on Iowa Democratic Party's vote to certify 2020 caucus results

The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted on February 29 to certify the 2020 Iowa caucuses, as published on the party’s official results page.

In most election cycles, that vote would be a formality. But about a third of those who participated in today’s meeting opposed certifying, due to questions about the accuracy of reported numbers in some precincts that were not part of the recanvass or recount requested by the Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns. They wanted the IDP to further review and if necessary correct results for certain precincts.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from a contentious debate and a list of SCC members who voted for or against certifying.

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Iowa Democrats should not certify inaccurate caucus results

UPDATE: The State Central Committee voted 26 to 14 on February 29 to certify results with no further corrections. This post discusses the debate and vote over certifying in depth.

The Iowa Democratic Party has updated official results from the February 3 caucuses again, following a recount of 23 precincts specified by the Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg campaigns. The recount didn’t change the projected allocation of Iowa’s national delegates: fourteen for Buttigieg, twelve for Sanders, eight for Elizabeth Warren, six for Joe Biden, and one for Amy Klobuchar.

Revised delegate allocations in nineteen precincts left Buttigieg “ahead” of Sanders by 562.954 state delegate equivalents to 562.021, a small fraction of 1 percent of all delegates. It would be more meaningful to say Sanders and Buttigieg in effect tied on the delegate count, while Sanders had the largest number of supporters attending precinct caucuses.

Unfortunately, the recount didn’t address all the inaccuracies in the official results. Some of the errors scattered around the state affected neither Buttigieg nor Sanders. The Iowa Democratic Party has taken no steps to correct those mistakes, nor has it responded to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated questions about them.

Meanwhile, Zach Montellaro and Holly Otterbein reported for Politico on February 27 that the Sanders campaign will object to the revisions, on the grounds that Buttigieg should not have been able to ask for recounts of precincts where he was shortchanged.

Someone in this party needs to insist on accuracy for its own sake. Before some sixty members of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee certify the caucus results at their February 29 meeting, they should insist on a broader review of the problems.

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Where things stand in Iowa's third Congressional district

Part of a series catching up on Iowa’s 2020 races for federal offices. Click here for the latest on IA-01 and here for IA-02.

Plenty of successful Iowa politicians have lost their first campaign as a challenger, then defeated the same incumbent two years later. (Tom Harkin and Berkley Bedell are two of the most famous examples.) Rematches occur in a different political context. The challenger has higher name recognition, and the prevailing national atmosphere may favor the party out of power.

In Iowa’s third Congressional district, another kind of rematch is taking shape. U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, who took down an incumbent on her first attempt, will face David Young, who won two U.S. House races before losing to Axne in a difficult year for Republicans nationally.

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