Thursday’s announcement by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez calling for a complete recanvass of the results reported from Monday’s Iowa Democratic Caucuses heightened speculation that the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating process is rigged against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Many Sanders supporters believe the 2016 Democratic nomination process was rigged by the Democratic National Committee to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton, and Perez’s announcement on Thursday did little to dispel the growing notion the same thing is happening again in 2020.
Perez’s call for a recanvass also overshadowed the report early Thursday morning that Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are in a virtual tie in the race for state delegate equivalents in the Iowa Democratic caucuses conducted on Monday, with 97 percent of precincts reporting.
It also stepped on Sanders’ claim on Thursday of victory in Iowa, as the New York Post reported:
The call for a “recanvass” came three days after the Iowa caucuses, and with Sanders ( I-Vt.) declaring victory in the first-in-the-nation nominating state, though no winner has been officially named and still only 97 percent of the tallies have been counted.
Speaking at his campaign’s New Hampshire headquarters in Manchester, Sanders noted that his campaign was winning the popular initial vote “by some 6,000 votes.”
“What I want to do today, three days late, is to thank the people of Iowa for the very strong victory they gave us at the Iowa caucuses on Monday night,” Sanders said. “When 6,000 more people come out for you in an election than your nearest opponent, we here in northern New England call that a victory.”
Buttigieg has 26.2 percent of the state delegate equivalents awarded (550), while Sanders has 26.1 percent of the state delegate equivalents awarded (547), according to The New York Times, a lead of just three state delegate equivalents.
With three percent of precincts yet to report, the race for state delegate equivalents is still too close to call.
But Sanders leads in the popular vote with 24.7 percent of the votes cast during the first alignment of caucus attendees (42,672) to Buttigieg’s 21.3 percent (36,768).
In the second and final alignment of caucus attendees–the vote that took place after “non-viable” candidates with less than 15 percent of the vote in the first alignment are eliminated–Sanders also leads Buttigieg by a margin of 26.5 percent (44,753) to 25 percent (42,235).
2020 is the first year the Iowa Democratic Party is reporting the results of the raw votes in the first alignment and second alignment of the state’s first-in-the nation caucuses.
That new reporting requirement was added at the insistence of the Sanders campaign, motivated by the results of the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses in which Hillary Clinton was declared the winner by the party when she received 701 state delegate equivalents (49.9 percent) to Sanders’s 697 state delegate equivalents (49.6 percent), a margin of victory for Clinton of just four state delegate equivalents.
The Sanders campaign believed that Sanders beat Clinton in the raw vote totals recorded during both the first and final alignments of the 2016 caucuses, and that the reporting of the state delegate equivalent totals that gave the victory to Clinton, and not the raw vote totals, provided Clinton with an unfair advantage, especially since there were questions about the methodology by which the Iowa Democratic Party calculated state delegate equivalents.
In theory, precincts that have higher general election turnouts by Democrats receive greater weighting in the final calculation of state delegate equivalents, but the specifics of how those calculations are made have not historically been shared publicly.
Adding to the distrust surrounding the methodology were confirmed reports of coin tosses to determine county convention delegates, the step immediately preceeding the calculation of state delegate equivalents.
As the Des Moines Register reported days after the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses, a coin toss determined how county convention delegates were awarded between Clinton and Sanders in several precincts after the final alignment raw vote totals were determined in those precincts:
In a handful of Democratic caucus precincts Monday, a delegate was awarded with a coin toss.
It happened in precinct 2-4 in Ames, where supporters of candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disputed the results after 60 caucus participants apparently disappeared from the proceedings.
As a result of the coin toss, Clinton was awarded an additional delegate, meaning she took five of the precinct’s eight, while Sanders received three.
Similar situations played out at various precincts across the state, but had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome, in which Clinton won 49.9 percent of statewide delegate equivalents, while Sanders won 49.5 percent. The delegates that were decided by coin flips were delegates to the party’s county conventions, of which there are thousands selected across the state from 1,681 separate precincts. They were not the statewide delegate equivalents that are reported in the final results.
After DNC Chair Perez’s demand for a recall of the 2020 results on Thursday, it was unclear when, or if, the Iowa Democratic Party will finish reporting the results in the remaining three percent of precincts whose results have not yet been reported.
The order of finish for the third, fourth, and fifth place finishers in Monday’s Iowa Democratic Caucuses is no different for any of the three measures of the night’s results — first alignment raw votes, second and final alignment raw votes, and state delegate equivalents.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in third place with 18.6 percent (32,007) of the raw votes in the first alignment, 20.3 percent of the raw votes in the second and final alignment (34,312), and 18.2 percent of state delegate equivalents (381).
Former Vice President Joe Biden is in fourth place with 14.9 percent (25,699) of the raw votes in the first alignment, 13.7 percent of the raw votes in the second and final alignment (23,051), and 15.8 percent of state delegate equivalents (331).
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is in fifth place with 12.7 percent (21,896) of the raw votes in the first alignment, 12.2 percent of the raw votes in the second and final alignment (20,525), and 12.2 percent of state delegate equivalents (255).