The Iowa Caucus fiasco provided perfectly chaotic fuel for the Bernie vs. the world storyline that has defined the Democratic Party since 2016.
The delay in results created an information vacuum that quickly turned into a circular firing squad of recriminations and finger-pointing on the left.
Sanders rivals preemptively declared victory or otherwise spun the nights non-result in their favor. Campaign hands took aim at the Iowa Democratic Party and the untested app it used to tabulate votes. And Sen. Bernie Sanders left Iowa without what might have been a momentum-building news cycle and huge fundraising opportunity.
This is not a good night for democracy, Sanders told reporters on his plane before it took off from Des Moines on Tuesday.
READ: And the biggest loser of the Iowa Caucus is … Iowa
The first-in-the-nation contest was supposed to provide clarity to a primary thats been scrambled by the Democratic Socialist frontrunner and his tense relationship with the party. It ended up doing the precise opposite.
A glitchy app, backed by well-connected Democratic strategists, exacerbated reporting inaccuracies across the state. Party officials told campaigns Tuesday that theyd release partial results by the late afternoon, which could just make things even more confusing.
The screwup has screamed incompetence and even conspiracy to Sanders supporters and progressive media figures whove been key in boosting the Vermont senators message online.
[T]onight should have been a fantastic, joyous night for progressives, Cenk Uygur, creator of The Young Turks said on Twitter. Instead, the Democratic Party set progressives back again.
Reddit users in the huge r/SandersForPresident community dunked on Democratic bigwigs. #MayorCheat trended on Twitter after Pete Buttigieg, whose campaign has previously contracted the firm behind the app, claimed a win last night with no data to be had. And Kyle Kulinski, a popular lefty YouTuber and co-founder of Justice Democrats, called on DNC Chair Tom Perez to resign.
READ: Everyone but Biden is claiming victory in Iowa’s screwed up caucuses
This is either record breaking incompetence or its an attempt to game the results, Kulinski said on Twitter. Those are the only two options.
They have good reason to be pissed.
Polling averages suggested that Sanders was the favorite in Iowa. And a win would have likely propelled a multimillion-dollar surge in donations and positive media coverage vis-a-vis former Vice President Joe Biden.
Indeed, the Biden campaign could not get out of Iowa fast enough, and was the only major candidate not to claim victory in Iowa. He may have gotten a reprieve: a fourth or even fifth-place finish would have killed any momentum his candidacy might have carried into New Hampshire and Nevada.
While Sanders couldnt fully cash in on a strong showing, campaign manager Faiz Shakir told supporters in an email Tuesday that the Vermont senator had a comfortable lead by the campaigns own reporting from more than half of districts across the state. Those estimates put Sanders around 29% of the vote, followed by Buttigieg with 25%, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 21%. Biden appeared to trail them all.
It is simply unacceptable that the Iowa Democratic Party cannot release votes in a timely way, so we will continue to update you with our numbers as we await a final, official result, Shakir wrote. But again, we feel very good about where we are right now, and you should too.
The botched caucus comes after a week of growing tensions between the Sanders world and the professional political class. The Des Moines Register and CNN scrapped a poll expected to show a strong Sanders showing due to last-minute questions about methodology. And the DNC tweaked its forthcoming debate criteria to nix donor thresholds, opening the door for the self-funded billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
READ: Here’s the Shadow Inc. app that failed last night
The clashes have led to constant friction between the democratic socialists online supporters and the mainstream press. Cue more outrage from all angles.
Trumpworld has eagerly fanned these flames. Since the beginning of January, Trump has repeatedly touted Sanders strength in polls and alleged that the Dems will never allow him to win! Pro-Trump media organs like Fox News have followed his lead.
The Democratic primary is shaping up to be another massive dumpster fire like it was in 2016, Fox News host Sean Hannity said Monday night. And look at this: Cocialist Bernie Sanders has now surged into the lead. And the Democratic establishment in a state of shock and panic.
Tucker Carlson and other Fox talent have repeatedly driven that same point home in recent weeks. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucus in 2016, added his own bit of concern-trolling to Fox & Friends Tuesday morning.
It’s particularly frustrating for the surging and the insurgent candidates, Cruz said, alluding to Sanders. Joe Biden is perfectly fine with this outcome.
Cover: Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during a caucus night watch party in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)