I understand all the annoyances and campaign concerns about the delays in the Iowa caucus voting. But to me it's far less a Big Deal than it seemed, largely thanks to TV covering the caucus minute-by-minute for hours. But then, they dearly want something to talk about. And want to eventually go home. And for the last four hours they have pretty much an empty box of cards. And after a while, once the caucusing ended, and there were no caucusers to talk to, the reporters and panelist had nothing to talk about and so that left "There is this delay which is a mess."
Yes, there's a delay. And yes, it's a total, screwed-up mess. And yes -- they will get the results, and there will be a winner announced. But yes, too, the results in Iowa don't especially matter all that much. Iowa isn't a predictive precursor to anything. The road to the White House is strewn with the bodies of candidates who won Iowa or did far-better than expected, who didn't go much farther. The great advantage of Iowa is for minor candidates who do pretty well which allows them to do more effective fundraising and have a campaign issue through New Hampshire.
But Iowa has a small population. It isn't a primary but a weird caucus in which requires such a long time commitment that only a small portion of that small population participates. And the state is 91% white. So, while it's a Good Thing to do well in the state, and Not Good to do poorly, that's about the depth of its meaning.
And this isn't even uncommon for Iowa. Remember all the way back in 2012, just two presidential elections ago, when Mitt Romney won in Iowa? And then they said, oops, mistake, it was Ron Paul. And then, no, it was Mitt Romney, and then...I think it went back and forth a bit until they finally figured it out. And even when they figured it out, I believe that Romney won the caucus, but Ron Paul got more delegates, so...whatever, it's Iowa. It's a goofy system -- an interesting one, to be sure, but borderline inexplicable. And eventually they'll have the results and a winner. But if you don't want to go back a whole eight years, then let's just go back four years to 2016 and the last presidential election. They didn't announce those results until after midnight. (Which compared to this year seems quaint...)
The only people the results really matter to right now are the candidates, so that they can know what to tell the press and how to position their campaigns address fundraising. But for everyone else, including the press, we'll find out the results soon enough, And the results Tuesday morning -- or Friday morning -- will be the same as they would be right now as I type this if whatever the glitch was didn't glitch.
In fact, it's not a whole lot different than it would be if votes were tabulated on paper, as they once were, and which might not be a terrible idea in this day of foreign hacking -- or of computer glitches. To be clear, no one has suggested that there has been any foreign interference here, just a basic computer screw-up of some sort. And we all deal with those all the time. They're frustrating, annoying and we get past them.
All this said, there is one other impact to all this beyond knowing the results right away. And it's that we now may have reached the tipping point for those who've long-suggested that Iowa not be the first state in the election season. Not just for it not having a population indicative of the Democratic Party, but also for it having a convoluted caucus. Maybe the state's caucus system will be refined. Maybe it will go away completely and become a primary. But Iowa is what will go away as the first state in the process. Or, of course, maybe nothing will change. But I do sense that for the first time there will be a serious look at how to handle the next time. Not just for having this screw-up, but also the two previous, and also having problematic demographics, and also for having a caucus. There are many good reasons for having the first election in Iowa. Whether there are enough remains to be seen. As does whether Iowa is willing to make changes.
The one good thing in all this has largely gone unmentioned. And that's that -- the actual election season has finally begun at last. Huzzah.