The long-anticipated US Democratic Party’s Iowa caucuses has turned into a confusing cliffhanger with officials deciding to delay reporting the results, spurring speculation and mockery online.
The announcement of the caucuses outcome was delayed on Monday night “due to quality checks,” Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) Communications Director Mandy McClure said.
We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report.
The IDP promised to release the results sometime later on Tuesday, after they are verified manually.
On top of that, there were multiple reports suggesting that precinct chairs had problems using the new app designed to help tabulate and report the result. This added to confusion and frustration online, particularly among the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who some polls showed as a frontrunner.
“Nobody is gonna believe the results when they eventually come out now,” the host of the left-leaning Secular Talk YouTube and radio show, Kyle Kulinski, tweeted.
The delay in reporting the results spurred speculation that local Democratic officials may be ‘stealing’ the victory from Sanders. “In other words they need to sway it away from Bernie somehow,” one person wrote.
The whole situation also invited mockery and a flurry of jokes about Russia somehow rigging the caucuses. “Bet y’all wish you had some Russian bots to help calculate those results a little faster,” a commenter quipped.
Another suggested that “at least the Iowa caucus is so absurdly confusing that there’s no way Russia can hack it.”
Even CNN host Van Jones admitted that what went down in Iowa was “a real debacle.”
“The idea of the caucus itself has failed to meet the viability threshold… You only have one job, Iowa,” he said.
Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, declared himself the winner before the official results were relayed. “Iowa, you have shocked the nation. By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious,” he said.
Iowa is the first US state to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July. The caucuses are the first real test for the candidates, and its results are traditionally viewed by the media and donors as indicative of how the rest of the primary will likely go.
This year, Iowa will be sending 41 pledged delegates. In 2016, Sanders was beaten by a razor-thin margin by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Iowa, who would end up becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee and lose to Donald Trump in the general election. The backlash from Sanders supporters prompted Democratic Party officials to promise making the next caucuses more transparent.