IOWA DEBACLE: Tech difficulties plague Democratic caucuses | Delays cause confusion, frustration

Democratic White House hopefuls are making their final push before the Feb. 3, 2020, Iowa caucuses. Frontrunners are hoping for a decisive victory in the Hawkeye State ... ... while lower-polling candidates are hoping for a strong finish that keep their campaigns going. The Iowa caucuses are the nation's first big event in the annual presidential election season.

Iowa Dems cite ‘quality control measures’ as reasons for delay

Major delays were experienced Monday night in the Democratic Iowa caucuses, the nation’s first event of the 2020 presidential election season.

As of 11 p.m., the Iowa Democratic Party still had released no results, and several presidential campaigns reported they had been called into a special party meeting ti discuss what exactly was causing the delays.

Communications director Mandy McClure said in a statement Monday night that the delay is also the result of the party reporting three sets of data for the first time.

McClure says the party has data so far from “around 25%” of the state’s 1,765 precincts and “and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016."

Social media was ablaze with frustration and speculation as to what was taking Democratic party leaders so long to publish the results.

Voting began across Iowa Monday night as Democrats balanced their desire for fundamental change with their craving to defeat President Donald Trump in the opening contest of the 2020 presidential primary season.

The caucuses are the Democratic Party’s first nominating contest in the 2020 presidential election. The caucuses, which will be held during the evening, are closed, and candidates must meet a viability threshold of 15% within an individual precinct in order to be considered viable.

»LIVE IOWA CAUCUS RESULTS HERE

Iowa’s Democratic Party is adding several satellite caucuses in nursing homes and union halls in an effort to increase participation. Some of those caucuses are even taking place for Iowans out of state and for Hawkeye state expatriates in cities around the world.

In a symbolic victory, President Trump won the GOP Iowa caucus against largely non-existent competition. The Associated Press declared Trump the winner at 7:35 p.m. EST.

As the evening caucuses opened their doors, there were signs of major enthusiasm. Outside Iowa City's Englert Theatre, long lines stretched a block in two directions. Organizers bracing for a large turnout opened the balcony for extra seating and warned early arrivals to expect delays.

The Democratic White House campaign has already cost more than $1 billion.

Monmouth University poll released last week shows Biden and Sanders at 23% and 21%, respectively. They're followed by Buttigieg (16%) and Warren (15%).

Sunday night is all about the 54th Super Bowl where the Kansas City Chiefs faced off the San Francisco 49ers, but come Monday morning and all eyes will be on politics.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents neighboring Minnesota, is also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates such as entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.

»Dates you should know for Election 2020

Meanwhile, New York ultra-billionaire former Mayor Mike Bloomberg is running a parallel campaign that ignores Iowa as he prepares to pounce on any perceived weaknesses in the field come March.

Iowa offers just a tiny percentage of the delegates needed to win the nomination but plays an outsize role in culling primary fields. A poor showing in Iowa could cause a front-runner’s fundraising to slow and support in later states to dwindle, while a strong result can give a candidate much needed momentum that propels him or her to the nomination.

»MORE: Here’s why Iowa caucuses are so important

About half of likely caucusgoers say they are still open to changing their minds when they show up to caucus on Monday, which is prompting Democrats such as Biden to actively court the lower-polling campaigns such as Steyer.

The old axiom that “there are three tickets out of Iowa” means the top three finishers have the best chance of remaining in the race and making their way to New Hampshire on Feb. 11; the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22; the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29; and then Super Tuesday on March 3.

Here are 2020's important election dates. Iowa caucuses - 2/3. New Hampshire primary - 2/11. Nevada caucuses - 2/22. South Carolina primary - 2/29 Super Tuesday - 3/3 Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, & Washington primaries, N.D. caucuses - 3/10. Arizona, Florida, Illinois & Ohio primaries - 3/17. Georgia primary - 3/24 Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana primaries & Wyoming caucuses - 4/4. Wisconsin primary - 4/7. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania & Rhode Island primaries - 4/28  Kansa

The caucuses, which will be held during the evening, are closed, and candidates must meet a viability threshold of 15% within an individual precinct in order to be considered viable.

»MORE: Iowa frontrunners court lower-tier candidates’ support

Unlike a traditional primary, in which voters cast ballots, caucuses take place out in the open. People show up to their precinct and physically move into designated parts of a room to show their preference for a certain candidate. Delegates are awarded based on those who reaches a certain threshold of support by the end of the night.

For Democrats, participants physically divide themselves into their candidates’ groups. This is called the first allocation, and it determines which candidates are viable. Those failing to make the threshold — set at 15% to 25%, depending on precinct size — must then try to win enough new members to keep their candidate viable, join some other candidate’s caucus, become uncommitted, or simply go home.

»MORE: Everything to know about the Iowa caucuses

Following this one and only round of shuffling, a final allocation tally is taken to determine the number of delegates sent to later county conventions. The “state delegate equivalent” results are used to calculate the number of national delegates each candidate receives; those delegates will go to the national convention.

A Democratic candidate needs 1,991 pledged delegate votes to win the party’s nomination on the first ballot of the convention.

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