[guest post by Dana]
While we still don’t know which Democrat will come out ahead in the caucus results, we do know that Trump views the disaster as a solid win for himself:
The Democratic 2020 crusade to oust President Donald Trump could not have got off to a more disastrous and embarrassing start.
The party couldn’t even deliver a first-in-the-nation election night winner after a vote-reporting debacle in Iowa — where candidates spent months and millions of dollars vying for a glittering opening prize in their nominating duel.
The caucus nightmare also played right into the hands of a President spoiling for months to brand his rivals as weak, disorganized and even worse — plotting to rig the results to hand its crown to an establishment favorite. There’s little doubt that Trump, who consistently erodes distrust in institutions and governing systems, will weaponize such a narrative if it looks like he will lose in November.
The President pounced on the confusion early Tuesday morning.
“The Democrat Caucus is an unmitigated disaster. Nothing works, just like they ran the Country,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Trump operatives are already spinning conspiracy theories and disinformation about what the Iowa Democratic Party said were “inconsistencies” in its results. Their aim is to create a narrative that tars the eventual nominee as illegitimate. And on the eve of his State of the Union address and two days before he’s set to be acquitted in his impeachment trial, things cannot have worked out better for the President.
“It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said, gleefully wringing every last drop of political advantage out of the Democratic blushes.
It could be that after the countless twists of the campaign and changes of fortune, Monday’s snafu — apparently by a vote-reporting app — will be a distant memory by November, especially if one of the candidates turns Trump into a one-term president. Democrats will get the last laugh then.
But there must also be questions about whether the Iowa mess is isolated — or augurs a party ill-equipped in the states to take on Trump’s formidable turnout machine, which is being built with his massive campaign war chest. And the importance of Iowa in the process of choosing a president magnifies the cost of its terrible night on Monday.
Details of the disaster:
Mandy McClure, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, said the delays were the result of quality checks and the fact the party was reporting three sets of data for the first time. She said the party did find inconsistencies in the three data sets — the first round, the second round and the overall delegate numbers.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results,” McClure said.
More than 7,000 people attended a Trump rally just last Thursday at Drake University in Des Moines.
As of this posting, results have still not been released.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: The Democrats say they weren’t hacked, and they would never lie (insert eyeroll emoji), but it’s still worthwhile to contemplate a scenario in which they were — by Russia, at the request of Donald Trump. (No, Trumpers, I am not alleging that. It’s a hypothetical to illustrate a point. Try to keep up.) I guess that would be OK, right? I guess that would be less than ideal but not impeachable, right? Also, if any Democrat president pulled such a stunt it would be the worst thing in history.
UPDATE #2: Results of 62% reported precincts:
The Iowa Democratic Party released partial results of its kickoff presidential caucus after a daylong delay on Tuesday showing former Midwestern Mayor Pete Buttigieg and fiery progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leading the opening contest in the party’s 2020 primary season.
It was too early to call a winner based on the initial results, but Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar were trailing in the tally of State Delegate Equivalents, according to data released for the first time by the state Democratic Party nearly 24 hours after voting concluded. The results reflected 62% of precincts in the state.