On Monday, February 3rd, Iowa was the first state to vote for a Democratic candidate for the upcoming US presidential election. It is one of a handful of states which uses the archaic caucus system. This involves voters gathering in schools, town halls, libraries and other locations to campaign for and support a particular candidate. It can be as simple as a show of hands. There is nothing technical nor secret about it – what could possibly go wrong?
Iowa answered this question precisely for us on Monday. To make the caucus more efficient (or not), a mobile app was introduced for representatives to record results. Due to technical difficulties, or what the state Democratic party termed a ‘coding error’, the results it transmitted were incorrect.
Much of the spotlight is shone on this midwestern state at election time. 90% of its population is white, which is not representative of the nation as a whole at 77%. Nonetheless, the state holds much power when it comes to electing a Democratic nominee, and since 2000 every Democrat who has won Iowa has succeeded in winning the nomination. It is an age-old belief that winning the first state gives candidates the necessary momentum and attention to ultimately succeed. Iowa is also a notorious ‘swing-state’, meaning it could easily be won by either a Republican or Democratic candidate once the election rolls around.
So, who are the candidates seeking this nomination to compete against Trump in November? The spotlight in Iowa was on 78-year-old Bernie Sanders, who declares himself a democratic socialist and has proven popular with student voters. Former vice president, Joe Biden, was also hailed a front-runner in the state. However, as voting got underway, internal vote counts showed that Biden’s popularity had sunken far below that of his fellow candidates. Much of this was due to the increase in support for another centrist democrat Pete Buttigieg. Other Democratic nominee hopefuls include Elizabeth Warren, Anthony Yang Amy Klobuchar who now move onto New Hampshire in the hope of securing a win there.
Following the voting chaos, at the time of writing an official winner has yet to be officially declared in Iowa. Both Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders have claimed victory from the results which have emerged. Bernie Sanders looks to have won the popular vote; however, Pete Buttigieg appears to have narrowly won the vote share from state convention delegates. What the results in Iowa do tell us is that the race for the 2020 democratic nomination will be a nail-biting affair.
Blathnaid Corless – Politics Writer