February 4, 2020

Iowa Caucus Results Delayed

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“The Iowa Democratic Party said Monday night that results from the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus were indefinitely delayed due to ‘quality checks’ and ‘inconsistencies’ in some reporting.” AP News

Incumbent President Donald Trump won the Republican caucus with 97% of the vote. Iowa GOP

Both sides criticize the reporting failure and the caucus model in general:

“At a moment when public faith in American institutions is declining, what could be more fitting than a colossal screw-up in counting the votes for the very first election of the new presidential election cycle?”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“As early as 8:48 pm Eastern time, the New York Times was already reporting that problems with the app were giving rise to conspiracy theories… A viral tweet suggested, without evidence, that the app was being used to somehow rig the process against Bernie Sanders. It’s really hard to imagine that the Democratic Party would alter the results in such a blatant fashion. But many of Sanders’s supporters bear a grudge against the party from the 2016 primary, and in the absence of a clear explanation for what’s happening, it’s likely conspiracy theories like these will continue to spread. That’s really bad for the public’s faith in the fairness of the process

“In an emotional and heated election, against the backdrop of a process that many Sanders fans thought was unfair in 2016 and a president who constantly accuses his opponents of cheating, it’s important that the US electoral system seem functional. The Iowa delay seems to be, so far, a step in the wrong direction.”
Zack Beauchamp, Vox

“Caucuses are a terrible way to pick a nominee. There is no secret ballot, so every nosy neighbor and busybody who prefers another candidate knows who you’re supporting. There is no access for those who work nights or need babysitters. And this year, Democrats have a fairly arbitrary 15 percent threshold — no delegates for anyone who falls below that line…

“The two rounds of reallocation meant that supporters of those below the viability line started trying to form alliances out of Survivor, attempting to block delegates for other candidates. Apparently many Democrats believe the electoral college is some sort of unfair menace, but they’re just fine where neighbors are trading snow-shoveling or chocolate cookies in exchange to join their faction… One group of supporters of unviable candidates decided to back Cory Booker, who quit the race on January 13. This is the best day for his campaign in weeks! Pete Buttigieg won a delegate on a coin toss… And now, apparently, the results are being held up for ‘quality checks.’”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“The caucuses -- especially in this cursed year -- demand hours of commitment. This limits the number, and kind, of people who can attend, despite Iowa Democrats allowing satellite caucuses this year. Many people who work at night still cannot attend. People who care for children or other relatives cannot attend. People who have other commitments cannot attend. Those who cannot attend tend to be lower income, of course, and those people are supposedly the base of the Democratic Party. It's madness to effectively exclude them from the caucus process… It's time for a change.”
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN

“Nothing could have more effectively underscored the ultimate irrelevance of Iowa than a non-result allowing everyone not named John Delaney to claim a victory of sorts, express their sense of ‘optimism’ going forward, and otherwise ignore the question of who actually won… the message people are likely to take away from Monday's contest is that the caucus is the worst of both worlds, an ill-understood, antiquated, anti-democratic mess that systematically excludes parents, working-class people, the shy, and the otherwise socially well-adjusted that has been taken over by well-meaning tech consultants.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of the pro-life movement’s embrace of Trump and opposed to further restrictions on abortion.

This was not the first time the Iowa caucuses have gone awry. In 2012, Republicans never truly knew whether Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney had gained more support. And four years later, confusion about the close gap between Clinton and Sanders led Iowa Democrats to reform their process with the hope of providing a more precise picture of which candidate had won the most votes and which candidate would receive the most delegates. As Monday turned into Tuesday, that picture had yet to emerge, and Iowa Democrats will have to regroup yet again to figure out what went wrong. Whether they get another chance to get it right four years from now is another question entirely.”
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

It’s worth noting that “Dozens of caucus sites reported little or no Biden support, and there were suggestions he may even finish in fifth place behind Amy Klobuchar. This is probably because his ground game is weak, and the argument for his candidacy is based on fear of Trump rather than genuine enthusiasm. His campaign was reduced to limply complaining about process to distract from the epic loss. It's not a coincidence that both of Biden's previous campaigns for president were disastrous flops… for the moment, everything is coming up Bernie.”
Ryan Cooper, The Week

Meanwhile, “[Klobuchar is] not an incredible dynamo of charisma, but she does have a kind of charming dorky Midwestern shtick. She sticks to popular policy positions, and she has a strong track record of winning the kind of voters Democrats need to carry in November… Back in 2012, President Obama won 53 percent of the vote in Minnesota. Klobuchar won 65 percent…

“Earlier this year, FiveThirtyEight computed a ‘popularity above replacement senator’ score for every member of the upper house. It compares each senator’s home state favorable rating to the underlying partisan attributes of the state. Nos. 1 and 2 are West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who’ve run and won in deep-red states. No. 3 is Klobuchar — a Democrat who is just really good at making Midwesterners like her… If [Biden's] basic message appeals to you — and clearly it does appeal to a lot of Democrats — you owe it to yourself to ask if Klobuchar isn’t the most effective vehicle for that message.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox

“I’m quite sure the White House knew that this plan would be immediately dismissed by the Palestinians. So why bother? There are a couple of reasons. First, Trump said he was going to come up with a peace plan and gave the task to his son-in-law; if nothing else, he can say that he followed through. Second, by coming up with something so incredibly skewed toward the interests of Israel, he can demonstrate to domestic constituencies — particularly evangelical Christians, many of whom are devoted to a right-wing vision of Israel’s future in which Palestinian rights are ignored — that he continues to be on their side… And finally, the inevitable rejection of the plan by the Palestinians can be used as an excuse to continue denying them self-determination. ‘See, we offered you a peace plan,’ Trump and Netanyahu will say, ‘and you didn’t want it! It’s clear you aren’t ready for self-determination.’ And nothing will change.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“If we’re really lucky, this might be the occasion for some significant reform. The absolute minimum that should be done is for Iowa to switch from a caucus to a primary… What would be even better is if we finally took the opportunity to end Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status… We have to release ourselves from the tyranny of this state and its stubborn voters. Let me speak for those of us in the other 49: We’re pretty sick and tired of you Iowans telling us how it’s so important that you have this privilege for all eternity because you ‘take it so seriously.’ If you took it seriously, you wouldn’t use this insane voting process. And maybe more than 16 percent of you would actually turn out to vote… No one state deserves the status Iowa took for itself, and it has shown it can’t manage it. The country needs to take control of the election out of Iowa’s hands.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right applauds Trump’s speech and argues that his Iran strategy has been successful.

From the Right

“For six months, some of President Trump's most implacable foes have invested great hope in two Republicans -- former Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld -- who are challenging the president for the GOP nomination. Could they do some damage to Trump's re-election prospects? Tonight, in Iowa, that hope was put to a first test. It failed…

Trump won 97.16 percent of the vote, to Walsh's 1.08 percent and Weld's 1.27 percent. Others -- write-ins of various people -- totaled 0.47 percent. It was [a] striking show of strength for the president. Beyond that, turnout was high for a year in which an incumbent president is assured of re-nomination… The last time there was a non-competitive GOP caucus, that is, a caucus with an incumbent president, was in 2004, when President George W. Bush was in the White House. That year, about 8,000 Republicans showed up for what were essentially meaningless caucuses. This year, the turnout was 32,004.”
Byron York, Washington Examiner

“Only one candidate was truly able to declare himself victor on Monday night. ‘Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!’, tweeted President Trump.”
Matt McDonald, Spectator USA

“Blagojevich was prosecuted for multiple shakedowns and for an attempt to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. His offenses weren’t minor. They were criminal and repetitive. At one point, he was found guilty on 17 counts of corruption… [Roger] Stone, a former Trump associate, was found guilty on seven charges, including making false statements, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation… Both men engaged in political corruption, the likes of which Trump promised to fight when he ran a campaign against the deep state. And he is undermining this agenda by reducing the sentences of both men and accepting their crimes as common occurrences.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“Did Bill Taylor deliver the smoking-gun testimony House Democrats need to justify their drive for impeachment? Or did GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe ‘destroy’ the former Ukraine charges d’affaires in two minutes flat, as Nunes claimed last night?… The only way to really know what happened is to see the transcripts, and the serial leaks out of the SCIF make Schiff’s security arguments a bad joke… No one should trust any of these reports until we see the transcripts. In fact, no one should put any confidence in this process until it gets conducted openly, honestly, and fairly. House Republicans might have been conducting a stunt this morning, but the purpose of that stunt is spot-on. The House Democrats’ star-chamber approach is an affront to justice and due process, and their conduct in using selective leaks to goose public opinion from these proceedings is nothing short of despicable.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

It’s worth noting that “conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions…

“In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.)”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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