By Patrick Martin
4 February 2020
The Iowa Democratic Party has refused to release results of the caucuses held throughout the state on Monday night to determine the allocation of delegates for the party’s presidential nomination. Officials are now saying that they hope to have results “some time Tuesday.”
The action is an unprecedented intervention by the party apparatus into the process of choosing the party’s presidential nominee. It is clearly directed at the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who was leading in the polls and was expected to place first in a four- or five-way contest in Iowa.
The media and non-Sanders Democratic Party candidates quickly developed a common line, citing supposed “quality control” issues in the vote that questioned its “legitimacy.” The New York Times, which earlier posted polling results that clearly showed Sanders in the lead, removed all such figures from its front page by midnight.
An official statement from the Iowa Democratic Party claimed that there were “inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results” from each of the more than 1,700 precinct caucuses held across the state. The party statement did not explain the nature of the discrepancies or how they were to be remedied, except to claim that the issue was not the result of a hack or other external interference with the tabulation of the vote.
Lawyers for the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party Monday night demanding an accounting of the method being used for “quality control” in the vote tabulation before any results are released. This could keep the results of the caucus voting secret for days, if not weeks, while courtroom battles are played out, in a manner reminiscent of the 2000 vote in Florida.
Precincts covered by the major media Monday night reported that Biden suffered a debacle, often not even receiving enough support to pass into the second round of voting.
The manipulation of the results in Iowa is clearly directed from the top. The Democratic National Committee sent dozens of top operatives, including software and cybersecurity experts, into Iowa in the weeks before the caucuses. Even before Monday, there were efforts to develop the line that the vote might not be legitimate.
In fact, the software application used to report the results from precinct caucuses—three sets of numbers for less than a dozen candidates—would not have been very complex, and there was ample time for testing and security measures.
The weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses featured a coordinated campaign by the corporate media and the Democratic Party establishment to undermine Sanders’ support. This campaign was widely viewed as unsuccessful or even counterproductive—boosting support for the self-described “democratic socialist” rather than reducing it.
The failure to report results from the caucus raises new questions about Saturday’s decision to cancel the release of the final Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register, allegedly because of a complaint by the Buttigieg campaign that at least one telephone survey worker did not include the name of their candidate. The poll was expected to confirm Sanders’ standing as the leading candidate, only two days before the caucuses.
All the major Democratic candidates made speeches Monday night thanking their supporters and pledging to continue their campaigns in the New Hampshire primary February 11. Significantly, however, Buttigieg was the only one to claim he had been “victorious” in the caucuses, an assertion that had no basis in any figures reported from the state, since there were none.
Data from entrance polls reported on cable television suggested that Sanders was in the lead with at least 23 percent, followed by Buttigieg, Warren and Biden, in fourth place with about 16 percent. Demographic information on caucus-goers also suggested such an order of finish, with the proportion of voters under 30 jumping from 18 percent in 2016, when Sanders and Hillary Clinton finished in a virtual tie, to 24 percent in 2020.
The proportion of voters over 65 years of age—the base of the Biden campaign—fell from 34 percent in 2016 to only 28 percent in 2020.
The debacle and orchestrated operation over the Iowa caucuses is only a foretaste of what is to come in the efforts by the Democratic Party to rig the primary election process.
Sanders surges in polls amidst attacks
With the Iowa caucuses Monday formally initiating the Democratic Party presidential selection process, polls indicate a continued rise in support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
A Washington Post poll found Sanders and former Vice President Biden in a statistical tie in the state, while the New York Times’ polling indicates that Sanders now leads the field, followed by Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttegieg and Amy Klobuchar.
A national poll released yesterday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal reported that Sanders’ support among Democratic primary voters is at 27 percent, up six percentage points from December, while Biden had fallen to 26 percent, down two percentage points. Warren follows at 15 percent, Michael Bloomberg at 9 percent and Buttigieg at 7 percent.
The growth in support for Sanders comes in the midst of a campaign by top officials within the Democratic Party and from major media outlets against his candidacy. Indeed, several comments in the media have noted with concern that attacks on Sanders from these sources seem to have had the opposite effect than intended.
Following denunciations of Sanders by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and a scurrilous attack by Warren earlier this month, the New York Times took a different tack on Monday. In an article titled “Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army,” the Times portrayed Sanders’ online supporters as violent and sexist “Bernie Bros.” The article was virtually devoid of facts, relying instead on Clinton and Obama surrogates in addition to rival campaign advisors for salacious quotes in which Sanders was made responsible for fostering a “toxic culture” in his campaign.
The hatchet job noted that Sanders has 10 million followers on Twitter–more than Warren, Biden, Buttigieg and Klobachar combined. It added ominously and without substantiation, “A sizable number could be automated bots or fictitious accounts. Federal prosecutors have detailed coordinated efforts by Russian nationals to interfere in the 2020 elections, with an emphasis on two candidates—Donald J. Trump and Mr. Sanders—whom the Russians hope to bolster while denigrating their opponents.”
Thus the Times invokes the manufactured claims about massive Russian interference in the 2016 elections to bolster the manufactured claims that Sanders’ followers are similarly “manipulating” the elections.
Similar articles have appeared elsewhere. The Washington Post wrote that the distribution of images and posts critical of Warren by Sanders used “a popular new mass-posting technique that allows ordinary Americans to operate with rapid-fire speed reminiscent of Russian bots or trolls in 2016.”
Media reports indicate that Biden and Klubochar have discussed collaboration in the Iowa caucuses to counter support for Sanders in precincts where one or the other candidate is not viable. Biden staffers have also floated the possibility of a Klobuchar vice presidential nomination if she were willing to agree to the deal.
The party establishment has a fall-back plan in the form of billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In a revealing interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Steven Rattner, a longtime Wall Street insider and head of Obama’s wage-cutting Auto Task Force, who manages the investments of Bloomberg’s $58 billion fortune, explained the “centrist fall-back option” that a Bloomberg candidacy presented.
“Biden is either going to win in Iowa and New Hampshire… Or he’s not going to do well there, in which case there needs to be a viable centrist alternative in order to stop Bernie Sanders.”
Measures have also been taken to establish control over the 2020 Democratic National Convention Platform Committee, which has been packed with figures hostile to Sanders. Some of the more well known names include Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers; John Podesta, former chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign; and former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
The vice chair of the Platform Committee is Jake Sullivan, a fixture in Democratic Party foreign policy circles for over a decade. Sullivan served as national security advisor to Biden and also advised the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.
The hostility to Sanders from dominant sections of the Democratic Party establishment is motivated not so much by Sanders himself, who is a known quantity, having functioned as a loyal adjunct of the Democratic Party for decades, but by the sentiments driving the popular support for his campaign. Sanders has directed his appeal to opposition to social inequality and war, presenting himself as the voice of opposition to Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the giant corporations and the political establishment, Republican and Democratic.
The Democratic Party does not want to run an election on the basis of these issues, and is fully prepared to scuttle a Sanders campaign by whatever means necessary.