Controversy amongst caucus and primary results


BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER

The recent Iowa Caucus results gave Americans their first results of the election cycle, and finished with minor controversy on both sides. For the Democrats, the results were unbelievably close, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton receiving 49.9 percent of the votes to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 49.6 percent. Clinton was declared victorious, with 23 delegates to Sanders’ 21.

However, the results have been contested by both camps, as a small number of concerns were brought to the Iowa Democratic Party due to a supposed confusion about the Caucus—namely, the system that calls for a coin flip in the event of a tie. Even with a recount given discrepancies at five precincts, Clinton still came away victorious, with her percentage being brought down to 49.84% and Sanders’ being bumped up to 49.59%. While this is only a short-term fix, Iowa Democratic Party chairman Andy McGuire released a statement claiming he was “extremely proud of the collaborative relationship [they] have with all parties involved” and that updates were made at five precincts, “affecting only five county convention delegates out of more than 11,000 elected on Caucus night.”

While the controversy on the Democratic side was confined to logistical matters, the Republican side was left shocked at Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s win over his outspoken fellow candidate, businessman Donald Trump. Cruz won by a margin of 28 percent to Trump’s 24 percent, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio followed closely in third at 23 percent. Since his loss, Trump has asserted that the results were unfair, stating: “ There are votes that actually say I came in first, depending on how you want to count the votes, to be honest, because that was a horrible thing that took place.”

Bernie Sanders. (Photo: U.S. News & World Report)

Bernie Sanders. (Photo: U.S. News & World Report)

He also claimed that Ben Carson was disadvantaged due to reports saying he was planning to withdraw, turning his voters to switch their support to Cruz thus giving him a push to the top. There is no evidence to back up his claim that the race was unfair to the candidates, and that Ted Cruz won illegitimately. Instead, Cruz’s win can likely be accredited to him being favored by evangelical voters, and those who class themselves as “very conservative,” as well as Marco Rubio’s late surge. Cruz and Rubio also took most of the state’s new voters, an area where Trump was calculated to gain 16 more points than Cruz, and ended up with barely half as much. Undecided voters also made the decision to vote primarily for Senator Rubio over Trump; the latter only taking only took 14 percent of the late decision voters.

Flash forward to the New Hampshire primaries, where Trump held a commanding lead at 35 percent. Many pollsters and news agencies were surprised to find John Kasich surge to second place with 15 percent of the vote. On the Democratic side, Sanders had an overwhelming lead with 60 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 38 percent. Voters under the age of thirty topped out at 80 percent in the Iowa Caucus, making Sanders the favorable candidate by a large margin amongst young voters. This also seemed to be the case in the New Hampshire Primary, and was likely a huge factor in calculating his victory as there are many more young voters in New Hampshire than in Iowa.

In a statement taken shortly after his Iowa loss, Sanders summed up his excitement for the elections to come, saying: “ We are going to fight really hard in New Hampshire and then we’re going to Nevada, to South Carolina, we’re doing well around the country.”

Based on the results out of New Hampshire, and his narrow loss in Iowa, “doing well,” seems to be an understatement for Sanders—and the race has only just begun.


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