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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Three ways Mark Smith can restore faith in the Iowa Democratic Party

The Iowa Democratic Party released revised Iowa caucus results on the evening of February 18, following a recanvass of 79 precincts. Recanvass administrators changed delegate allocations in 26 precincts where the precinct chair did not properly apply the party’s rules on February 3, and revised results in three precincts after spotting data entry errors.

The adjustments shrank Pete Buttigieg’s delegate lead over Bernie Sanders to “almost nothing,” a Sanders news release declared: 563.207 state delegate equivalents to 563.127, to be precise. The Sanders campaign will request a recount in several precincts where results were not adjusted during the recanvass.

While the work of tabulating the Iowa caucus numbers nears its end, the work of restoring confidence in the process is just beginning. Events of the past few weeks exposed serious flaws in the party’s operations.

After being chosen to succeed Troy Price as state party chair on February 15, State Representative Mark Smith told reporters, “Priority number one is to get out across the state and to talk to everyday Iowans and restore the faith in the Iowa Democratic Party.” A few places he could start:

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From the chair: Reflections on the 2020 Iowa caucuses

Michael J. Jacobsen works in higher education, is a father of two, and is a former high school government, U.S. history, world history, geography, psychology, sociology, world political theory, and economics teacher. He resides in Williamsburg, Iowa and welcomes comments at jacobsenmike84@gmail.com. -promoted by Laura Belin

February 3, 2020, the day after the Super Bowl (and my birthday), was going to be a day to remember. Iowa was to kick off the “official” beginning to the 2020 election season. I was honored to be asked to serve as the caucus chair for the Williamsburg precinct in Iowa County for the Democrats.

I had caucused before, but not with the buildup and number of presidential candidates this one would have, and certainly never “running the show.” However, despite what the national media has reported regarding the problems with the reporting app (mostly justified), the delay in results, and other issues, these caucuses — for me — will be remembered for the many positives as well.

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