2020 Iowa caucus

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Pre-election polls



App failure

Count irregularities

Rigged coin flips



  1. Business Insider, "The gold-standard Iowa poll was canceled 1 day before the Caucus because Pete Buttigieg's name was thought to have been left off a poll call", 2020/02/02: "The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom survey was canceled Saturday night after a Pete Buttigieg supporter said the Mayor of South Bend's name was omitted during a poll call. The survey, conducted by J. Ann Selzer of the pollster Selzer & Company, is widely considered the gold standard of Iowa caucus polls, boasting a coveted A+ rating from FiveThirtyEight. [...] Selzer gave a statement to the Des Moines Register about the canceled poll. "There were concerns about what could be an isolated incident," Selzer said. "Because of the stellar reputation of the poll, and the wish to always be thought of that way, the heart-wrenching decision was made not to release the poll. The decision was made with the highest integrity in mind." CNN was set to announce the results of the poll at a televised live show in Iowa, but canceled the special once the survey mishap was announced."

External links

  • Bloomberg, "Iowa Precinct Chairs Report Issues Using Caucus App, Potentially Delaying Results", 2020/02/03: "Precinct chairs across Iowa said that some of them are struggling to use the new phone application for reporting Monday night’s caucus results, potentially delaying the counting of the first votes in the 2020 Democratic race. The application is one of the ways local officials who oversee individual caucuses are able to send results from each of the nearly 1,700 sites to the Iowa Democratic Party, which compiles and checks the results. The app was created to improve the efficiency of reporting of results, but chairs unable to use the app on Monday will send their results to the party via a call-in number."
  • Tweet by John Pemble on 2020/02/03 @ 21:30 showing an odd coin flip by a Kamala Harris / Pete Buttigieg supporter
  • Tweet by Jaylen Cavil on 2020/02/03 @ 22:12: "Des Moines Precinct 80: Bernie’s group had 101 people Pete’s group had 66 people Bernie & Pete end up tied at 4 delegates following a coin toss. This is democracy??? 🤔 #IACaucus"
  • Tweet by Shawn Sebastian on 2020/02/03 @ 22:40: "I am the caucus secretary for Story County Precinct 1-1. I've been on hold for over an hour to report the results. We have 6 delegates First Alignment @BernieSanders - 111 @ewarren - 82 @PeteButtigieg - 47 Delegates Sanders - 2 Warren - 2 Buttigieg 2 Here's how it happened 1/"
  • NBC, "Results for Iowa caucuses delayed as state Democratic Party finds 'inconsistencies'", 2020/02/03: "The Iowa presidential caucuses were thrown into chaos late Monday after the state Democratic Party said it found "inconsistencies," delaying results and causing widespread confusion across the state. "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 that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report," state party communications director Mandy McClure said. [...] The state party had earlier said it was carrying out "quality control checks, making sure the numbers are accurate." As the state party scrambled to sift through three sets of numbers, election workers struggled to use a new app created for caucus organizers to calculate and report results. [...] The backup phone line provided by the party was likewise "a disaster," a source familiar with the process said, adding that the campaigns were all participating in a briefing about the situation."
  • New York Times, "App Used to Tabulate Votes Is Said to Have Been Inadequately Tested", 2020/02/03 (updated 2020/02/04): "And the party decided to use the app only after another proposal for reporting votes — which entailed having caucus participants call in their votes over the phone — was abandoned, on the advice of Democratic National Committee officials, according to David Jefferson, a board member of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election integrity organization. [...] The Floyd County chairman said that he had three precincts unable to report results, trying both the app and the hotline. The caucus secretary for a precinct in Story County said he had been on hold for over an hour to report the results. The Humboldt County chairman said one of its precincts had faced wait times of up to 30 minutes. The app used by the Iowa Democratic Party was built by Shadow Inc., a for-profit technology company that is also used by the Nevada Democratic Party, the next state to hold a caucus, as well as by multiple presidential campaigns. Shadow’s involvement was kept a secret by Democratic officials through the caucuses. An official from Shadow did not respond to requests for comment, but one of the company’s investors, Acronym, a progressive nonprofit company, released a statement saying that Acronym is a separate entity from Shadow and that it was still waiting to hear from the Iowa Democratic Party “with respect to what happened.” [...] The party said then that the problems would ultimately not affect the reporting of results. But Jerry Depew, the Democratic county chairman from Pocahontas County, said that the report line and the help line were the same phone number."
  • Tweet by Anthony Zurcher on 2020/02/04 @ 03:23 showing a blatantly rigged coin flip for Pete Buttigieg: "Here’s your Iowa democracy in action - a coin toss to determine who gets the last delegate out of this #IowaCaucus precinct after Buttigieg and Klobuchar tied. Buttigieg won."
  • WAOW, "At least 50% of Iowa Caucus results expected by 4 p.m.", 2020/02/04: "The Iowa Democratic Party says it plans to release at least 50% of results from Monday's caucuses on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. CT. Party chairman Troy Price tells presidential campaigns on a conference call that "we are going to release the majority of results that we have by 4 p.m. today." [...] Price says results from about 50% of precincts should be released Tuesday. It was not clear when the final results would be available."
  • Des Moines Register, "Partial caucus results to be released at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Democratic officials say", 2020/02/04: "The Iowa Democratic Party has not yet released results for the 2020 caucuses, which began 16 hours ago. Zero of 1765 precincts have reported state delegate numbers as of 11:45 am Tuesday. Price said in a Tuesday morning statement that the app used to report results had a coding error which "was identified and fixed." The coding error did not impact the data itself, which the party is checking alongside paper records to verify. [...] Former Vice President Joe Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders raised doubts that the proper verifications could be completed by late Tuesday afternoon. [...] She said there are reports from precincts across the state that preference cards were not filled out and said the IDP needs to be able to prove its results are accurate when it releases them."
  • Tweet on 2020/02/04 @ 18:10 showing how the regions in Iowa with the most missing precinct data coincide with the regions containing the strongest support for Bernie Sanders
  • Jonah Hoff photo on 2020/02/04 of a Caucus Math Worksheet from Cedar County IA in which Pete Buttigieg received 3.2000 delegates which were inexplicably rounded up to 4
  • Common Dreams, "'Trumpian': Biden Campaign Under Fire for Questioning Legitimacy of Iowa Results Showing Candidate in Distant Fourth Place", 2020/02/05: "Former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 Democratic presidential campaign came under fire Wednesday after senior advisor Symone Sanders refused when pressed for over three minutes on live television to say the campaign trusted caucus results out of Iowa's Monday contest, which was marred by reporting issues but the numbers from which consistently show Biden in at best fourth place. "I guess we'll have to take the Iowa Democratic party at their word," said Sanders, while refusing to say she believed the results were accurate. The remarks came during an interview with CNN Wednesday afternoon at around 1:15 pm."
  • CBS, "Buttigieg maintains lead with 86% of precincts reporting", 2020/02/05: "The Iowa Democratic Party released results from more precincts on Wednesday afternoon, with Buttigieg maintaining his lead in delegates, while Sanders held onto a popular-vote lead."
  • Tweet on 2020/02/05 about discrepancies in Black Hawk County IA results: "Uhhhhhhhh the IDP is now reporting vote totals from Black Hawk County that are at odds with what Black Hawk County themselves have reported"
  • MSN, "Iowa Democratic Party releases 85% of caucus results but an error forces correction", 2020/02/05: "After all of its struggles to release proper results from the Iowa Democratic caucuses Monday night, on Wednesday afternoon, the party released some mistaken results. "There will be a minor correction to the last batch of results and we will be pushing an update momentarily," the Iowa Democratic Party said in a tweet, after it had released 85% of the long-awaited results. [...] With 75% of precincts reporting, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had not received any state delegate equivalents. When the number of reported precincts reached 85%, he'd earned 21 state delegate equivalents. That immediately surprised Iowa politicos, because Patrick had spent very little time campaigning in Iowa and was not actively competing for support here. The party's website said 1,677 people supported him on the first alignment and 1,768 people did so in the final alignment. After the Iowa Democratic Party released its corrected results, Patrick again was down to receiving zero delegates. [...] The precinct-level data the party released showed it misreported results from Des Moines' 55th precinct, which was held in the lobby of Capital Square, a downtown office building that also is home to the Des Moines Register's newsroom. The party's Wednesday afternoon results, before the correction, showed Patrick earning the support of 191 people in the first alignment and 218 in the final alignment. Those numbers actually belonged to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The numbers reported by the party also showed Steyer earning the support that actually belonged to Warren. And no support was tallied for Yang or "uncommitted," though there were some supporters in the room. [...] Black Hawk County supervisor Chris Schwartz also tweeted that the party had incorrectly reported results in that northeast county. There, he said, Sanders' delegate support was allocated to Patrick in the party's tally. [...] “Deval Patrick definitely had zero voters. Not even just zero delegates, zero votes in Black Hawk County,” he said."
  • Tweet on 2020/02/05 @ 21:57 about erroneous results in Polk - Des Moines 72 showing Biden winning all SDEs despite losing to Sanders
  • Tweet on 2020/02/06 @ 01:07 about erroneous results in Polk - Des Moines 14 showing Warren with the SDEs that Sanders actually earned
  • Reddit thread started 2020/02/06 crowdsourcing an analysis of Iowa caucus vote disparities (spreadsheet)
  • "Bernie Sanders Campaign Declares Victory in Iowa and Releases Discrepancies", 2020/02/06 (photo of press release)
  • Tweet by Jordan Hobfoll on 2020/02/07 @ 07:05: "I put together a spreadsheet of all precinct issues I (and others) have identified. Currently there are 28 precincts w/ Delegate allocation errors. The impact of correcting them would be +3.954 SDEs for Bernie. More than enough to overtake Pete. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JLQvIHaasTYTPOeEPKXquNPx9VCvJNNzCIJlxEkrBfQ/edit#gid=0"
  • CNBC, "Iowa caucus: Here’s a map of precincts where the data appear to be irregular", 2020/02/07: "The national party leader, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, called Thursday for the state to be immediately recanvassed — similar to an audit of results — but has so far been rebuffed by the state party. [...] A common error, according to CNBC’s analysis, is that in many precincts — possibly more than 80 — the number of votes counted in what’s known as the “final alignment” was greater than the number in the “first alignment.” That discrepancy is theoretically impossible under caucus rules, which are determined by the state party."
  • KCAU, "One Sioux City caucus precinct accused of invalid results", 2020/02/07 - results from Sioux City 05 were copied to Sioux City 20, making it seem that precinct 20 had been won by Biden when in fact it went overwhelmingly for Sanders
  • New York Times, "Iowa Democrats Give Buttigieg the Most Delegates, but Won’t Correct All Errors", 2020/02/09: "Internal Iowa Democratic Party emails revealed that although the party was taking a second look at some problematic precincts, close to 5 percent of the total, it would not fix errors that might have occurred on the official handwritten tally sheets from precincts. Those records are known as “caucus math worksheets.” The party only corrected discrepancies between the data as recorded on the worksheets and what was officially reported in public releases of the results. The party could not change even blatant miscalculations on the worksheets, according to a lawyer for the party, because they were a legal record and altering them would be a crime. “The incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed to ensure the integrity of the process,” wrote the party lawyer, Shayla McCormally, according to an email sent by Troy Price, the chairman of the party, to its central committee members. [...] caucus “captains” for individual candidates photographed the worksheets in their precincts and shared them internally with their campaigns. Those photographs provided further examples of problems. The most blatant were errors in adding up votes for candidates, which take place in two rounds, and miscalculations when using a formula that translates raw votes to “state delegate equivalents.” But because the caucus chair and secretary of each precinct had certified the results on the worksheets, along with representatives of candidates, the documents could not be readjusted without violating election law, the state party lawyer said."

Possible fraud culprits

  • Shadow Inc. and Acronym background
    • HuffPost, "This Is The Buzzy Democratic Firm That Botched The Iowa Caucuses", 2020/02/04: "Gerard Niemira, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is the head of Shadow. He previously served as chief technology officer and chief operating officer of Acronym, according to his LinkedIn page. In 2019, David Plouffe, one of the chief architects of President Barack Obama’s wins, joined the board of advisers for Acronym. Acronym spokesman Kyle Tharp put out a statement distancing the group from Shadow, saying that Acronym is merely an investor in the for-profit company. In January 2019, Tara McGowan, the head of Acronym, announced that her firm had “acquired” Niemira’s Groundbase company, adding that he and his team were “launching Shadow, a new tech company to build smarter infrastructure for campaigns.”"
    • Washington Examiner, "Buttigieg campaign paid firm that developed voting app blamed for Iowa caucus delays", 2020/02/04 (FEC data containing 2019/07/23 disbursements from PETE FOR AMERICA, INC. to SHADOW INC): "Federal Election Commission filings reveal that Buttigieg's campaign gave tens of thousands of dollars to Shadow on July 23, 2019, for "software rights and subscriptions." Shadow, a technology company that has an investor in the Democratic digital nonprofit organization ACRONYM, was also paid $60,000 over two installments by the Iowa Democratic Party to build an app to help make caucus voting easier and faster for precinct volunteers. Filings also reveal that the Nevada Democratic Party paid Shadow $58,000 for "website development." [...] UPDATE: A spokesman for the Buttigieg campaign said it paid Shadow for "text messaging services to help us contact voters.""
    • Tara McGowan background
      • Tweet by Tara McGowan on 2019/01/17 @ 14:44: "With Shadow, we’re building a new model incentivized by adoption over growth, with a deep focus on building the underlying tech infrastructure that will enable campaigns to use the most effective new tools in smarter ways & better integrate + leverage data across platforms."
      • Tweet by Tara McGowan on 2019/01/23 @ 08:48: "MAYOR PETE IS RUNNING 😍😍😍"
      • Tweet by Tara McGowan on 2020/02/02 @ 10:26: "me: siri show me what my perfect birthday looks like siri: [includes a Snapchat message with the text "just the head of the iowa democratic party making an appearance 😍🇺🇸😍 @troy.m.price"]"
      • Associated Press, "Maker of Glitchy Iowa Caucus App Has Democratic Party Ties", 2020/02/04: "Shadow Inc. was picked in secret by the Iowa Democratic Party after its leaders consulted with the Democratic National Committee on vetting vendors and security protocols for developing a phone app used to gather and tabulate the caucus results. [...] Shadow Inc. was launched by ACRONYM, a nonprofit corporation founded in 2017 by Tara McGowan, a political strategist who runs companies aimed at promoting Democratic candidates and priorities. McGowan, 34, is married to Michael Halle, a senior strategist for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, which records show has also paid Shadow Inc. $42,500 for software. McGowan sought to distance herself from Shadow's IowaReporterApp on Monday night, characterizing the app developer as an “independent” company. [...] But business and tax records show ACRONYM and Shadow are registered at the same Washington, D.C., street address, which belongs to a WeWork co-working location. Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira previously served as the chief operating officer and chief technology officer at ACRONYM, according to an online resume. And on Sunday, McGowan tweeted pictures from a birthday celebration that included her husband and Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party."
      • Michael Halle background - was a lead Iowa organizer for Hillary Clinton and a senior strategist for Pete Buttigieg
        • New York Times, "Clinton Team Nabs McAuliffe Adviser to Focus on Iowa", 2015/03/31: "Mrs. Clinton has dispatched Michael Halle, formerly a top adviser to Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, to the state that starts the 2016 presidential nominating contest to develop and help execute her strategy there Mr. Halle, who is expected to ultimately serve in a senior role in Mrs. Clinton’s political department, will be based in Iowa through the caucuses. He is close with Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, who ran Mr. McAuliffe’s race for governor in 2013. They are part of a small cadre of staff members from that campaign planning to work for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. McAuliffe, of course, is a longtime Clinton loyalist who served as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman in her 2008 run for the presidency. Mr. Halle will work closely with Matt Paul, a native Iowan and former aide to Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack."
        • Terry McAuliffe background
          • Jacksonian Party Webring, "Red Mafia and its connectivity", 2007/11/06: "Damn that Mickey Kantor gets around! First in a law firm that helps Swaleh Naqvi during the BCCI scandal, then helping Terry McAuliffe and John Huang during the Lippo Bank Scandal, arranging financial aid for Webster Hubble and then helping the Reubens with their problems in Trans Commodities. [...] (Michael's partner in Trans Commodities was an American emigre named Semyon "Sam" Kislin, later named in an FBI report as an associate of a now imprisoned Russian "godfather," and whose nephew, according to Joel Bartow, eventually went to work as Michael Cherney's right-hand man. Kislin has since become a member of the Economic Development Board in New York City as well as a big donor to Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Rudolph Giuliani. He denies any links to either the mob or Trans World.)"
    • Associated Press, "Maker of Glitchy Iowa Caucus App Has Democratic Party Ties", 2020/02/04: "David Plouffe, who helped lead both of former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, joined ACRONYM's board of directors in September. Just who works at Shadow was not clear on the company's webpage Tuesday. But resumes posted on the online business networking site LinkedIn show the company's top executives all worked in the Clinton campaign's digital operation in 2016. Niemira, the CEO, was Clinton's director of product, responsible for creating a digital platform for field organizers to contact voters and manage local volunteers “while opening up new avenues of data collection for the campaign.” James Hickey, Shadow's chief operating officer, was an engineering manager at Hillary for America. Krista Davis, the chief technical officer and chief software architect at Shadow, was a backend engineer for the Clinton campaign."
    • Facebook post by Occupy Arkansas on 2020/02/04 detailing the Shadow team and their connections to the Democratic establishment - CEO Gerald Niemira was Senior Product Manager and Director of Product at Hillary for America; Product Manager Ahna Rao was Special Assistant to the CTO at Hillary for America; COO James Hickey was Engineering Manager at Hillary for America; CTO Krista Davis was Staff Backend Software Engineer ("Backend Tech Lead for Organizing Team") at Hillary for America
  • Ken Blackwell - a Council for National Policy implicated in rigging the 2004 Ohio general election
    • Daily Wire, "Democrat Claire McCaskill, NYT Reporter Blasted For ‘Racist’ Ben Carson Tweets", 2020/02/04: "New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher tweeted a photograph from the Trump campaign’s travels to Iowa that included a picture of Carson sitting on the edge of a seat in the middle of the photograph. [...] The suggestion that Carson was the only minority on the plane is laughably false as Pierson; Small Business Association administrator Jovita Carranza; Ken Blackwell, Former Ohio Secretary of State and Advisory Board Member of Black Voices for Trump and Pro-Life Voices for Trump; and Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez were all on board."

Other curiosities

  • Historical precedents of misreported results
    • Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, "NEW HAMPSHIRE THE BIRTHPLACE OF ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT", 2016/02/08: "While the mainstream for-profit media tried to explain it away, the Manchester Union Leader had been suspicious of the former CIA director going back to his first presidential bid in 1980. “The Bush operation has all the smell of a CIA covert operation . . . strange aspects of the Iowa operation [include] a long, slow count and then the computers broke down at a very convenient point, with Bush having a six percent bulge over Reagan,” according to the Union Leader."
    • Bev Harris, "NEW update (slightly weird) on Iowa Caucuses", 2007/12/17: "Creepy but detailed anecdote regarding the popular VNS election manipulation theory: according to http://www.votefraud.org/house_without_doors_and_update2008.htm - not the top site in credibility, take with salt accordingly: 1996 PRESIDENTIAL CAUCUS - DUBUQUE COUNTY, IOWA [...] The Democratic spokesperson -- this is what I heard him say -- when I asked if he knew whether the Republicans would release precinct results, said the Republicans use the same service, or system. I asked him to clarify that today, and he categorically denied saying that. [...] However: Both the Republicans and the Democrats are making use of automated phone-in systems for their results. Precinct leaders use the special phone-in number and automated number to report results. They do not speak to a real person, they punch it in. [...] On the reasoning that results must go to the media immediately, suppose both parties used automated phone-in results going directly to NEP (was VNS)."
    • Politico, "Santorum declared Iowa winner", 2012/01/21: "At 18 minutes before midnight Friday, South Carolina time, the Republican Party of Iowa released a statement revising its Thursday announcement that reported Santorum ahead of Romney but also saying the two-week-old race had no clear winner. “In order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results released January 18 by the Republican Party of Iowa, Chairman Matthew Strawn and the State Central Committee declared Senator Rick Santorum the winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucus,” the state GOP’s statement read. The news that Romney — who for two weeks celebrated what he jokingly called a ‘landslide’ eight-vote victory in Iowa, only to see it reversed this week when the state GOP certified Santorum the leader by 34 votes — officially lost the first contest muddies his narrative, especially as Newt Gingrich surges in the polls in South Carolina."
    • Affidavit of Edward L. True detailing an erroneously reported Romney win in one Iowa precinct in 2012