The Night Of No Returns: News Personalities, Pundits Left Guessing In Iowa Caucus Vote Chaos


UPDATE: The Iowa Democratic Party said that the vote results from the caucuses are delayed  due to “inconsistencies” and “quality checks,” forcing news personalities and pundits to wait even longer — and try to size up what is going on.

“This is a very serious problem. They have got to get this up pretty soon,” Wolf Blitzer said on CNN.

On Fox News, Chris Wallace said that the snafu threatened the state’s status as the first in the nation to vote.

“I love Iowa and I think the people there take it very seriously, but the Iowa Democratic Party has failed them terribly tonight and I would be very surprised if Iowa leads the state rolls when we get to 2024,” he said.

The state party initially said that the problem was technical, but later reported that it also involved the actual vote.

“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” an Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson said. “In addition to the tech systems 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.”

Many of the caucuses wrapped up by 10 p.m. ET, and about a half hour after that, media figures began to wonder what was taking it so long to get results.

The delay left networks to go to correspondents dispatched at various campaign headquarters with little news to report other than anecdotal information and individual caucus results. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow interviewed a precinct secretary who talked about being on hold for hours trying to report results.

“The caucus system is really unnecessarily complicated,” Shawn Sebastian told her.

Amy Klobuchar wisely seized on the delay to be the first out to speak to supporters, telling them that “we know there are delays, but we know of one thing. We are punching above our weight.” Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden quickly followed, and then Bernie Sanders took the stage.

“I have a strong feeling that at some points results will be announced, and when the are announced we will be doing really, really good,” Sanders said.

The final candidate to speak was Pete Buttigieg, who all but declared victory. “We don’t know all the results, but we know that when all is said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation,” he said. He referred to the problem with the results, but said, “By all indications we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

About 2,000 people packed a gymnasium on the campus of Drake University, in a roar of cheers as he gave a speech that had shades of Barack Obama’s Iowa victory address in 2008, sans the vote count.

Shane Hammond, 55, of Carlisle, Iowa, said that the voting glitch “will be a distraction, but I don’t think this campaign is a flash in the pan. It is genuine momentum, and so I don’t think you are going to be able to keep it down.” He was in charge of volunteers for Buttigieg’s Indianola office.

He was confident of Buttigieg’s performance. “We’ve talked to ten separate precincts, and it was overwhelmingly towards Pete. Ours was almost 2 to 1,” he said.

Joining him was his wife Kris Hammond, 54, who said that “what I feel from Mayor Pete feels very similar to how it was in 2007 to 2008 with Barack Obama.”

Klobuchar and Biden were not expected to come out on top, but that perception was based not on actual numbers but on entrance polls and anecdotal information. Without the results, campaigns could just put on their best face and call it a night.

“Even when there are no results, EVERYONE is a winner,” tweeted David Axelrod, senior adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

The generated new criticisms over the Iowa caucus process, which has gained in stature since the 1970s with the state’s determination to be the first in the nation voting.

Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager, slammed the Democrats for the snafus.

“They can’t even run a caucus and they want to run the government,” he wrote on Twitter.

PREVIOUSLY: After a year of presidential campaigning, primary debates and town halls, Iowa voters finally arrived at caucus sites to cast actual votes in the 2020 race.

All day long, news networks reported from throughout the state, albeit with little to say other than the countdown to the actual event, being held in hundreds of precincts across the state.

CNN was up with an entrance poll result at 7:38 p.m. ET, just as voters around Iowa were filing into hundreds of sites across the state. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden were the early leaders in the survey.

Earlier in the day, the network reported from a number of satellite caucuses, or special votes for those who are out of state or out of the country. But correspondents and anchors cautioned that at such an early point, not much should be read into it.

Iowa Caucus: NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard On Spending A Year On The Ground In Hawkeye State – Q&A

A lot of attention of media was focused on the Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines, and for good reason. The site is connected to a convention space set aside as a filing center and stand up space. Supporters chanted their candidates’ names as they began to organize into groups for the vote count. Sanders backers even did a chant where they spelled out his first name, “B-E-R-N-I-E,” like a cheerleading squad. CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash were on the floor of the caucus, interviewing precinct captains and supporters, as much of the rest of the media watched from a balcony above.

The vote count took a while. The hundreds of voters gathered groaned telling them, “We are going to start the count over.” An Amy Klobuchar voter left as the caucus went into another hour. Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg left as the remaining viable candidates after the first round of voting.

Sanders, who has been gaining ground in recent polls, left Washington on Monday afternoon after closing arguments in the impeachment trial to head to Des Moines for the night. “I’m on my way to Iowa,” he said to reporters outside the Capitol. His caucus night party is being held in a convenient location: at a Holiday Inn next to the airport.

Just as the caucuses were about to begin, the site Five Thirty Eight reported the results of one of the final polls, the CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, that was spiked at the last minute on Saturday after Buttigieg’s campaign reported that one respondent was not given his name as a potential choice. The results showed Sanders with 22%, Warren with 18%, Buttigieg with 16% and Biden with 13%.

Iowa Caucus: NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard On Spending A Year On The Ground In Hawkeye State – Q&A

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