Along with Everything Else, the Iowa Caucuses Are Also Pulling an Electoral College-Style Screw-UpPhoto courtesy of Getty Politics Features Iowa Caucuses
It’s difficult to imagine that one night in Iowa could lead to so much chaos, and that the people in charge could get so much wrong, but the truth is that I exhausted most of my rage in my piece from the ground in Iowa City yesterday. Still, it’s with no small amount of amazement that we’re discovering today the latest anti-democratic twist: As results (finally) come in, two days late, it looks like we’re in for a small-scale repeat of the 2016 general election, where the winner of the state by delegates will not be the person who got the most votes.
As of noon on Wednesday, the New York Times and many others were showing the same numbers with 71% of precincts reporting. The gist? Bernie Sanders had the most votes on the first vote and the final vote, but fewer state delegates than Pete Buttigieg:
Along with everything else, it is at least a little bit hilarious (read: dispiriting) that Iowa is also going to do an Electoral College on us, where the “winner” isn’t the one with the most votes. pic.twitter.com/Eb2fAVrsmo
— Shane Ryan (@ShaneRyanHere) February 5, 2020
How can this happen? For the same reason that a presidential candidate like Hillary Clinton can win the popular vote and lose the election, like in 2016: All votes are not created equal. Just like in the electoral college, rural areas (precincts, in this case, rather than states) are awarded a disproportionate share of delegates:
There are more state delegates per voter in rural counties, which could help candidates who are stronger in the rural parts of Iowa and hurt those whose voters are clustered in metro areas or college towns. https://t.co/i1hqvbN9l1
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 31, 2020
It makes no sense, but then again, nothing else does in Iowa either. If there’s one small silver lining, it’s that the actual vote counts would never have been tabulated before 2020, so at least this time we’ll know exactly how screwed up the delegate counts are. And if there’s a big silver lining, this is yet another indication that the Iowa caucuses need to be gutted, shelved, and buried so deep into the ground that they never come back.
And since I keep talking about this IRL: there was no reason why the Iowa Democrats had to keep using SDEs to award delegates once they started counting tabulated votes. This was entirely their choice, and the risk of a muddled result was totally obvious
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) February 5, 2020