A Note On Iowa

It’s tomorrow, and we still don’t know who won.

Yes, it’s embarrassing. But it’s something that’s to be expected in any contest when the results are close; this is something that people should have anticipated happening, to be frank.

Of course Republicans are gloating. And of course five candidates have declared effective victory without having anything to back it up. They’re politicians; that’s what they do — Republican and Democrat alike.

But the delay isn’t a sign of a flaw in the system; it’s a demonstration that the system is working the way it should. Yes, the reporting software malfunctioned; that can happen. But hard copies are present, and there’s a third (crude) backup system using photographs of the initial results. There will be no cheating. The data is present; the votes are being counted; the delegates are assembling as expected.

It’s easy to forget this, but Iowa never used to actually choose its candidates and delegates the first night of caucusing. It was a matter of actual people going from precinct to county to state over a course of several days. Normally there’d have been a presumptive winner declared by now, but it would have been just that: A presumption. We wouldn’t actually know; not for certain: we’d only have the illusion of knowing. So right now, we’re at just about the same position as we’d normally end up being.

For the person who will eventually be declared the victor in Iowa (at the state convention in March), down the road there’ll be a tiny bump in their standings.  From a fundraising standpoint, this will cost the leader a valuable talking point, and it may even be a fatal loss of momentum.  Which, yes, sucks for them.  But it’s the rules; it’s the way things were decided in advance by a (nominally) fair-minded committee.  Too late to complain now.

For those who may be found to have somehow failed to place… well, they’ve had a stay of execution.  Early polling can be relied on to tell us that Bernie, Biden, and Mayor Pete are probably safe, but Klobuchar and Warren might not be, and the Yang Gang is probably in sixth place.  But that’s just a guess; we have no way of knowing.  And this is good for the second tier; it’s a bit of doubt that will work in their favor.

The bottom line here is that effectively Iowa has been, as predicted, a five-way tie. Eventually, someone will end up with a handful of bonus delegates, and it’s anyone’s guess at this point who’s going to end up going without.

And that’s OK.

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