Recent polls suggested that Bernie Sanders was on track to win the first real test of the Democratic Party race to be Donald Trump’s main opponent in November’s presidential election. But the famous ‘Iowa Caucus‘ has been hit by a controversy which has delayed the results. This all comes amid ongoing establishment opposition to the Sanders campaign.
Sanders vs the political establishment
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The Democratic Party has already faced criticism for selecting a long list of right-wing hacks to serve on the nominating committee of the Democratic National Convention in July. The Grayzone argues that this is “to rig [the Democratic] primary against Bernie”.
Allegations of Hillary Clinton rigging the 2016 primaries against Bernie Sanders were widespread. And in Iowa in 2016, Clinton beat Sanders “by just 0.3 percentage points, with Sanders supporters citing counting and reporting irregularities”, according to NBC.
Establishment opposition to Sanders has also been clear in the run-up to the 2020 election:
Bernie Sanders is the *only* candidate in Iowa facing a tidal wave of paid negative ads, both pro-Trump SuperPAC and right-wing, pro-biz Democrat PACs are running vicious negative ads. Other candidates skating by w/o such a big money hurdle. pic.twitter.com/m7NsdzFRpT
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) February 3, 2020
In between these @JRubinBlogger columns, Bernie started surging in the Iowa polls
This is way, way, way beyond parody. It's truly performance art at this point pic.twitter.com/3WjsRXKtgE
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) February 4, 2020
MSNBC's long-time "analyst" and host Chris Matthews arguing that Bernie has an advantage in Iowa because caucuses are almost like meetings and socialists "like meetings." pic.twitter.com/w7HJbkgOSH
— jordan (@JordanUhl) February 4, 2020
Tens of thousands of voters spent hours Monday night choosing which Democratic candidate to back for the 2020 election. And new voters reportedly played a significant role in shaping Iowa’s election. People also shared accounts of Sanders receiving significant support among minority communities:
— gato fumador ❼ (@QueenInYeIIow) February 4, 2020
anyone gonna talk about how bernie sanders is sweeping all the delegates from nonwhite precincts in these iowa caucuses or nah doesn't fit the narrative
— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) February 4, 2020
Look at this historical moment: I’m at the Muslim Community Organization where over 200 are here and 99% are for Bernie. This Caucus has 9 delegates available. This is the beginning of winning this revolution. I’m amazed and my heart is so warm! #IowaCaucus #CaucusForBernie pic.twitter.com/He3sEiKTKT
— Ja'Mal Green (@JaymalGreen) February 4, 2020
Technology problems and reporting “inconsistencies”, however, kept Iowa Democratic Party officials from releasing results, so caucus day ended with no official winner. State party officials said final results would come out on Tuesday afternoon and that they were doing quality checks and verifying results. The party has apparently tried to accommodate critics this year by promising to report three different data points about voters’ preferences, presumably improving transparency. But the new system created new headaches.
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) February 4, 2020
State party spokesperson Mandy McClure said it had “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results”, forcing officials to try to verify results with “underlying data” and the paper trail. Some of the trouble stemmed from issues with a new mobile app developed to report results to the party. Caucus organisers reported problems downloading the app, for example, along with other glitches.
Des Moines County Democratic chair Tom Courtney said the new app created “a mess”. As a result, he said precinct leaders were phoning in results to the state party headquarters, which was too busy to answer their calls in some cases. Organisers were still looking for missing results several hours after voting concluded.
There were soon revelations that former staffers for Hillary Clinton had worked with the company apparently responsible for the failed app:
DNC hired one group of ex-Hillary staffers to design broken vote app that’s undermining confidence in integrity of Iowa vote count—and another group of ex-Hillary staffers policing social media for “disinformation” about integrity of Iowa vote count. Because Russia. https://t.co/xVSbx7xk0h
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) February 4, 2020
— Josh Harris Photography (@Heterodoxious) February 4, 2020
The Buttigieg campaign has paid tens of thousands of dollars for "software development" to Shadow Inc., the firm which built the app that ate last night's caucus results. https://t.co/Ze7Lf1OORe
— דער יידישער ארבעטער (@JewishWorker) February 4, 2020
For the curious, Pete's campaign paid Shadow twice for "software rights and subscriptions", Biden's paid them once for "text messaging", and Gillibrand's made six payments for "software". pic.twitter.com/VWYQGO3dw3
— Cody Johnston (@drmistercody) February 4, 2020
Buttigieg, meanwhile, suggested that he’d won in Iowa.
Team Sanders is prepared
Amid the Democratic Party’s failures in Iowa, the Sanders campaign soon released its own internal numbers which put him ahead of his opponents:
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) February 4, 2020
Pro-Sanders activists, meanwhile, poked fun at the app failure:
You know who has an app that works? @BernieSanders' PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
Y'all can download it here. Add your friends. Turn on notifications. https://t.co/HFOBlXEHOk
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) February 4, 2020
Sanders obviously has a tough battle ahead, with establishment forces clearly against him. But his campaign seems to be organised and prepared. So the establishment won’t have an easy ride.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore, with additional reporting via Press Association
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