Sanders’ Supporters Call for Release of Raw Vote Totals After Iowa Vote-Counting Confusion

Bernie Sanders Rick Wilkings Reuters
Rick Wilking/Reuters

Bernie Sanders’ supporters want to count every last caucus vote in Iowa, just to verify that their razor-thin, coin-toss loss wasn’t actually a razor-thin victory. 

“Did we win the popular vote? I don’t know, but as much information as possible should be made available,” Sanders himself said on Tuesday morning, as reported by the UK Guardianwhile the mess over the missing precincts was still being sorted out.

Sanders’ people were “highly critical of the [state] party, accusing it of not doing the necessary planning to ensure a competent caucus night,” according to Roll Call.

This included a “visibly irate” Sanders state director, Robert Becker, demanding reports from all precinct captains. Becker claimed that some of the precincts had “no-show” officials, or people who came without the necessary materials to report the results.

His irritation level was evidenced by declaring the apparent loss of five percent of the Iowa vote was “an outrage” and “insulting to the people who worked their asses off across this state.”

After what Roll Call describes as “a tense night and early morning trying to account for missing votes in errant precincts,” the Iowa Democratic Party finally declared 100 percent of precincts reporting.

“The results tonight are the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history,” said state party chairman Andy McGuire. “Hillary Clinton has been awarded  700.59  state delegate equivalents,  Bernie Sanders has been awarded 696.82 state delegate equivalents, Martin O’Malley has been awarded 7.61 state delegate equivalents and uncommitted has been awarded .46 state delegate equivalents.”

The last of the missing precincts, Number 42, chugged in with a 2-delegate lead for Sanders over Hillary Clinton, according to the Des Moines Register.

Conditions in 42 were described as “chaos,” with none of the 400-plus Democrats in attendance willing to take charge of the caucus, so “a man who had shown up just to vote reluctantly stepped forward.”

This fellow had to take Tuesday off work to run home, get the paperwork, and figure out who he needed to submit it to, having learned the hard way that Party headquarters was locked up, and the caucus phone hotline had been disconnected.

One suspects the estimable Robert Becker became “visibly irate” again, upon hearing this horror story.

With Number 42 added into the tally at last, the final delegate count was 699.57 for Clinton, 697.77 for Sanders.

If Clinton had not won all six of the delegates awarded by coin toss, Sanders would be the one claiming a razor-thin victory. That’s a bitter pill for Sanders fans to swallow, even if they’re fully confident there was nothing suspicious about Clinton’s remarkable run of good fortune on the coin tosses.

It might seem silly for one side or the other to make such a big deal about a technical victory in such a tight finish, and Sanders overcoming a poll deficit of over 50 points will go down in political history books regardless, but it does make a big difference to have “victory” headlines plastered all over newspapers, websites, and TV news graphics.

Team Clinton certainly thinks so. “Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus,” proclaimed her Iowa campaign director, Matt Paul, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. “After thorough reporting — and analysis — of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates. Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and no way that Senator Sanders can overcome Secretary Clinton’s advantage.”

The Des Moines Register reports that some Sanders backers are calling for the raw vote totals from Iowa to be released — something the Democrat Party doesn’t normally do — so they can determine if their man actually won the popular vote.

Update: The Des Moines Register reported on Tuesday afternoon that Sanders’ campaign thought, in the words of a spokeswoman, there was a “very, very good chance” of human error that could have affected the outcome of the incredibly close race.

Sanders campaign aides claimed to have found “some discrepancies between tallies at the precinct level and numbers that were reported to the state party.”

Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Andy McGuire flatly refused a request from the Sanders campaign for further analysis of the vote.

“The answer is that we had all three camps in the tabulation room last night to address any grievances brought forward and we went over any discrepancies. These are the final results,” said McGuire.