The 2020 Democratic primary started with a dramatic turn Monday night as the Iowa Democratic Party, citing “inconsistencies,” delayed announcement of its caucus’ final results until Tuesday morning, prompting mass speculation from cable news channels as the candidates vowed to press on to New Hampshire.
In other words, the well-scheduled coverage plans we reported for each of the networks earlier today were totally blown up.
On CNN, Wolf Blitzer questioned the delay while a chyron told viewers the reasons for it were “unclear.” MSNBC meanwhile reported “there’s some question about whether a new smartphone app meant to speed up reporting has been more trouble than it’s worth.”
But approximately an hour into the delay, the Iowa Democratic Party finally produced an explanation: that it’s a matter of due diligence rather than technical malfunction or criminal activity. “We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report,” IDP communications director Mandy McClure said in a statement.
“This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and we will simply take time to further report the results,” the statement concluded.
Shortly before 1 AM ET, the IDP announced that the final results would not be announced until Tuesday morning.
Despite statements by the IDP, at least one party official told CNN that the smartphone app the state employed to help tabulate results malfunctioned and officials were instructed to phone results in.
Meanwhile, the candidates took advantage of the lag with spotlight-drawing speeches that felt like versions of their planned victory addresses, minus any actual mention of victories. First up was Minnesota’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who vowed that whatever happens in the Iowa caucus, her campaign isn’t quitting and will next be setting up shop in New Hampshire. Next, former vice president Joe Biden took the stage just as Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren prepared to address her own supporters.
Biden looked ahead to the next big tests without waiting for the results of this one, declaring, “so, it’s on to New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and well beyond. We’re in for the long haul.”
Warren, for her part, used her speech to highlight her belief that “big dreams are still possible in America.” Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, joked, “I have a strong feeling at some point, the results will be announced.”
One exception to the tone of these speeches came from Pete Buttigieg, who told his supporters that “by all indications we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.” However, as of this writing, no actual results have been announced.
On Fox News, special coverage was extended and “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace commended some of the candidates for speaking up: “Well, I think it’s really interesting and pretty smart of the Buttigieg campaign and the Klobuchar campaign — we heard from our reporters in both of those — to put out their own story. If they’re not going to get a surge or spin or any boost from actual results, they’re going to say, ‘Well, we did really well in our precincts and we’re seeing tremendous enthusiasm.'”