UPDATED! Iowa Results, 3 Days Late: Bernie & Pete Semi-Tied

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Iowa is almost exactly the population of Orange County, which is why we have the illustration below in our graphics files.

Orange Iowa

[NOTE: A primary is run by the government; a caucus is run by a party itself.  So it’s not fair to compare the Iowa caucus to an OC run primary.  You’d have to compare it to one run by the DPOC.  I hope that that puts its problems in perspective.]

UPDATE, 7 pm Feb 6: Criminy!  It took three days for us to be able give you this update!  Forget about putting its problems in perspective!

First, as someone once said, let’s do the numbers.  With 99.9% in:

Popular vote:

Sanders: 45,826 (26.6%)
Buttigieg: 43,195 (25.0%)
Warren: 34,771 (20.2%)
Biden: 23,691 (13.7%)
Klobuchar: 21,181 (12.3%)

State Delegate Equivalents

Buttigieg: 564.01 (26.2%)
Sanders: 562.50 (26.1%)
Warren: 387.07 (18.0%)
Biden: 341.17 (15.8%)
Klobuchar: 264.20 (12.3%)

One problem for Buttgieg is that rumor has it that those satellite caucuses, which by anecdotal report Sanders dominated, are not included in these results.  (Don’t ask me why.)  If that’s true, he’ll pretty easily slip down into second place, rendering the “which is the best measure” argument moot.

OK, let’s go down to what should probably have been where I started, had you not been so hungry for those numbers.

Of three three measures of who won the Iowa caucus, two involve popular votes:  initial votes (after the “first alignment”) and votes after the redistribution of those who supported candidates who weren’t “viable” — who hadn’t received at least 15% of the initial vote — to support a candidate who had achieved viability.  (That’s called the “second alignment.”)

A third measure, “State Delegate Equivalents” (or “SDEs”), reflects an estimate of how many delegates to the state convention —  not the national convention, but the one that will choose delegates to it — each candidate will have.  That state convention is sort of like Iowa’s version of the Electoral College, in that not all candidates receive “one-person, one vote” representation in it.  In fact, rural counties receive disproportionate representation — just like the smallest states do at the federal level — which is why a candidate like Pete Buttigieg, who did better in rural counties, can doe better in SDEs than the popular vote.

Sides argue about which measure is the most important.  First votes reflect sort of a poll of Iowa voters (at least those willing to show up) — by some standards the best poll we’ve seen, though it’s not clear to who else it would generalize.  Second votes give us a sense of what the national mood might be once the field is winnowed down (except for the “Bloomberg Factor,” which I think we won’t discuss today.  SDEs are useful for figuring out how Iowa’s 41 federal delegates will be allocated — but let’s fact it: Iowa’s delegates are less than a tenth of 1% of the total that will be available at the convention.  Candidates don’t spend a year or more in Iowa to get the plurality of those 41 delegates; they go there to build up momentum for the later (especially the more delegate-rich) states.

Which is more important?  Think about it this way: 176,436 voters took part in the caucuses (so far).  According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, 614,519 people were registered Democrats at the beginning of the year.  So as a first approximation, this was essentially a poll of the 28.7% of the Iowa Democrats most interested and able in expressing their opinion.  (There were steps to make it more accessible for women with children, the fewer number of men who are responsible for childcare, and workers who wouldn’t be able to take part on a Monday evening — but those efforts were very likely inadequate and women in particular were probably underrepresented in the caucus.)  A poll with a 28.7% return rate is pretty sad, but such rates of return (especially with these high raw numbers) are still considered meaningful within the social sciences.  The bigger problem is that it’s a self-selected group — but that’s true of New Hampshire primary voters as well.  So it’s still influential, despite its being a skewed sample of the population.

The delegate criterion would be better if it were not slanted towards rural counties, which for political purposes it is.  That may be because it’s harder to get people to (1) go farther away (2) in places with less clear transportation.  On the other hand, rurcal communities tend to be closer knit with more sanctions who violate social norms — so if there’s a norm to conform that would tend to drive up participation.

Taking these together, the caucuses probably overrepresented Buttigieg and Klobuchar (the two rural-oriented candidates) a little based on the delegate measure and underrepresented Warren and Klobuchar a little on the raw vote measure.  Buttigieg probably got an extra boost in the raw vote because, among his LGBT base — which of course is not his only base, but it’s still probably low double-digits among Democrats — fewer (in relative terms, though probably still many in absolute terms) had to worry about child care, compared to women  under 45 (especially single mothers.)

Even before the results are finalized:

Klobuchar: I don’t see how Klobuchar stays in the race.  Sure, she might as well try not to finish fifth in New Hampshire (or sixth, if Bloomberg’s ads work), but this older, rural, adjacent state was tailor-made for her.  I hope that she stays in and keeps dividing up to centrist vote, but I’d say that her odds of winning the nomination are pretty close to mine.

Biden: He wants to stay in until the Southern Black states vote, starting with South Carolina.  If he seems electable in South Carolina, he’ll probably do pretty well in the South on Super Tuesday.  If not, his votes will probably go to Sanders and Tom Steyer.  (Guess what, Mayor Pete? There’s still homophobia in the country — and you’re heading straight for it.)  Even if he does well there — there aren’t that money Southern Black states after Super Tuesday.  (One might think that Blacks might like the wealthy and centrist Bloomberg — but for heaven’s sake, this is the guy who pushed “stop and frisk”!  Some Blacks will see past that — but not enough to roll up delegates in the South like Hillary did.)

Buttigieg: I think that he’s in the race for a long time — which is good because he’s competing with Bloomberg.

Warren:  Iowa was a pretty bad fit for Warren, and really pointed out how her more academic approach to being on the left is different from (and in important ways inferior to) Bernies more straightforward left populist approach.  I think that she’ll do OK in New Hampshire, less so in Nevada, even less so in South Carolina, and will win Massachusetts — and maybe do well in Ohlahoma, Virginia, and even Texas due to her school ties.  But she’ll probably be far behind in delegates at that point.

Sanders:  He could sweep the first four.  Steyer will be in his way in California, but Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar and Bloomberg will be in each others’ way, which is worse.  If Warren does badly by Nevada, she should probably work out a deal with Sanders where she will run as a “favorite daughter” in Massachusetts and Oklahoma (and maybe non-Latino Texas( and will not compete in California.  They both want to avoid a brokered convention — which goes to Bloomberg — so they had better make up pretty fast, because the delegates will be going fast.


NOTE, >9 pm Feb, 3: No official results tonight!  They’re not even done reporting, let alone counting, let alone verifying the count.

The app — from a developer whose identity the Iowa Dem Party won’t reveal — that was supposed to keep tabs of them apparently didn’t work, and the phone number that was supposed to be used as a backup for people to report results from the 1600 or so precinct caucuses was only being staffed by 12 people, leading to phone queues of over three hours and leading various people to give up and plan on calling them in tomorrow.  This clusterfuck should be the end of the Iowa Caucuses.  “You had one job!”

Meet Creed Bratton, the Iowa Democratic Party’s Quality Assurance Manager and software developer.

There’s supposed to be a paper trail showing what each persons initial and secondary choice was — one of the county officials interviewed by NPR did not seem to have even heard of the procedure.  This is very bad.  As the Seltzer survey had supposedly shown that Bernie was leading, plenty of conspiracy theories (goosed on by the Trump campaign) say that the election is being stolen.  Not impossible, but not yet.  What has been stolen is the thunder rightfully belonging to the winner(s), the influence on voters in New Hampshire, and any sense of the state party’s pride.

5:30 pm: This is what you call a placeholder.  Comment away, if you want, even before I post results.

Here’s something to read in the meantime, before it becomes obsolete.  It explained why there could be three different winners tonight.

~6:30 pm:NPR has on a bunch of pro-Biden, anti-Sanders guests — pollsters Republican Whit Ayers and Democrat Celinda Lake.  Ayers just said that it strains credulity that a ”communist“ like Sanders could do better than Biden at reaching outside of the party.  Look, dimwit — independent voters are not simply — or even primarily — people who are between the parties on the major issues.  There are also lots of people who are contemptuous of the corrupt leadership of both parties — and who don’t vote at all.  THOSE are the people who Bernie can bring in!  NPR, of course, did not present an alternative opinion — perhaps because either Mara Liasson or Mary Louise Kelly (didn’t notice which woman it was, and I guess it could have been a different one) had already previously spouted the same king of ignorant gibberish.

6:50 pm:  No results yet, which is itself a sort of result, in that it most likely means (as reporting confirms)  that there is ginormous turnout in many precincts — where some have not yet gotten all their people into the door so that they can even begin to caucus.  That high through favors Bernie — and it may also validate his theory that he’ll bring contemptuous voters off of the sidelines.

Some coverage also suggests that Klobuchar is doing well in rural districts and Sanders is doing well with young voters — both of which were expected.  Maybe less expected is that the oldest group of voters seemed to be splitting their votes between Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar — and Warren.  (Who’s smiling strength that besides Sanders? Bloomberg. Warren is also the second choice of most Sanders voters, which means that she could win The most delegates simply on that account.  (If he fails to get 15% anywhere, that is.)  If one of them is going to end up releasing their delegates to the other in order to avoid a second ballot, each should be the other’s second choice.  This would have been an obvious choice until the last debate.

8:00: Results are still not in.  Iowa’s Democratic Party has announced that they’re doing some sorts of checks, but not to worry because they have a paper trail.  If they have to move to paper counts … it will be a while.  Trump’s people have been saying that it is evidence that they stacking the election against Bernie.  As someone who believes that this did happen in 2016, let me be among the first to say: fuck you, concern trolls.  You have no credibility, and I doubt that many Bernie people would disagree with me based on your say-so.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)