Lessons Learned from Iowa Caucuses

Rbreidbrown / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The Iowa Caucuses have recently become a controversial subject within American media outlets.

What exactly are the caucuses and why are they so important?

Caucuses are basically public voting sessions that allow caucus-goers to express support for their candidates while selected caucus admins tally up the amount of support each candidate has. The results give the country an idea which candidate is most likely to win delegates within the state. This event is the first of many to see what kind of support candidates have among voters.

Why is Iowa first in the country to make its preferences known? The answer is there isn’t much reason why Iowa is first. In fact, most Iowans aren’t even sure why their caucuses are the first to begin the election year process. In fact, many have argued that Iowa does not reflect the country’s demographics and has advocated for other states to start the political ball rolling.

So how did the Iowa caucuses become such a big deal? This event became headline-worthy when Jimmy Carter was running for president in the ’70s. At the time, Mr. Carter did not have much of a name for himself. He was considered an underdog compared to his competitors. He took advantage of the timing of the Iowa caucus and spent a great deal of time campaigning there. Eventually, he won the Iowa caucuses, proving his competence, boosting his following, and eventually winning the presidential election in 1976. Of course, not everyone who wins the Iowa Caucuses is guaranteed the title of President. Think of Ted Cruz’s victory in 2016 and the Romney win four years before that. Neither went on to win the Presidency.

So how did the 2020 Caucuses turn out? If you haven’t heard by now, it went horribly wrong. Iowa painstakingly started the 2020 caucuses in one of the worst ways possible, by switching to a new technological approach: the use of an app to count votes. Technological flaws with the app severely delayed the results and may have even corrupted some of the data it held, making the whole process essentially useless.

One of the major reasons why the Iowa caucus was such a blunder this year can be traced back to a single app the DNC adopted this year. One thing that was very interesting was that the app was introduced to the Iowa DNC by Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. Does anyone find it odd that “Mayor” Pete claimed victory so early even when the results were inconclusive?

Looking ahead, we hope that other states do not follow in Iowa’s footsteps, but instead count their votes efficiently and come up with a fair and truthful outcome. As one of the biggest superpowers in the world, it is crucial for us to show both our allies and our adversaries what the power of the people in a great democracy can really do.


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