Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Hawkeye Cauci Catastrophe

 

The spin on the fiasco has been the failure of the reporting app. (H/T to El Rushbo* for naming the peculiar institution of the four-letter word in the middle of the map.) The app was a failure, but it did not create the catastrophe. After all, the data could have been gathered by such sophisticated tools as motel giveaway ballpoint pens and cocktail napkins. No, the failure ran much deeper than that. Consider the following from AP:

… numerous precincts reported results that contained errors or were inconsistent with party rules.

For example, the AP confirmed that dozens of precincts reported more final-alignment votes than first-alignment votes, which is not possible under party rules. In other precincts, viable candidates lost votes from the first-alignment tally to the final, which is also inconsistent with party rules.

Some precincts made apparent errors in awarding state delegate equivalents to candidates. A handful of precincts awarded more state delegate equivalents than they had available. A few others didn’t award all of theirs.

“DNC chairman seeks recanvass of Iowa voting” by Steve Peoples, Julie Pace and Brian Slodysko of The Associated Press in The Columbus Dispatch for Friday February 7, 2020

The point here is that the problem was not the app. It was the rules for running the caucuses.

They were too complicated. and could only be administered by highly trained and practiced administrators. The unpaid amateurs who actually ran the system could not execute the rules without catastrophic unrecoverable errors.

Simply recovering the data is not going to solve the problem. Iowa has 99 counties and a couple of non-county based caucuses. On Monday, Iowa had caucuses under 110 different sets of rules.** The numbers produced by those caucuses are as different as apples and oranges. They cannot be added up to produce a final total.

The inputs are garbage and the outputs must therefore be garbage.

Oh yeah, and the Democrat party has no one to blame other than itself.


*We love him and pray for his good health.

**The wonderful 1957 musical “The Music Man” was set in the mythical River City, Iowa. Its signature song was: “76 Trombones.”

Seventy six trombones led the big parade
With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.


Note added a day later:

When the New York Times agrees with me, something that happens less frequently than the return of Halley’s Comet, you know the Democrats are in trouble — deep.

What follows is a quote from a major NYTimes article that just appeared n the topic of the Cyclone state’s fiasco:

How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats: The problems that beset the Democratic Party’s first state caucus of the presidential race ran far deeper and wider than one bad app. By Reid J. Epstein, Sydney Ember, Trip Gabriel and at NYTimes.com on Feb. 9, 2020

DES MOINES — The first signs of trouble came early. As the smartphone app for reporting the results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses began failing last Monday night, party officials instructed precinct leaders to move to Plan B: calling the results into caucus headquarters, where dozens of volunteers would enter the figures into a secure system.

But when many of those volunteers tried to log on to their computers, they made an unsettling discovery. They needed smartphones to retrieve a code, but they had been told not to bring their phones into the “boiler room” in Des Moines. …

Until now, the main public villain in the Iowa caucus fiasco has been the reporting app, created by a company called Shadow Inc., along with a “coding issue” in a back-end results reporting system that state party officials blamed for the chaos. But the crackup resulted from cascading failures going back months. …

An analysis by The New York Times revealed inconsistencies in the reported data for at least one in six of the state’s precincts. Those errors occurred at every stage of the tabulation process: in recording votes, in calculating and awarding delegates, and in entering the data into the state party’s database. Hundreds of state delegate equivalents, the metric the party uses to determine delegates for the national convention, were at stake in these precincts. …

In the Times review of the data, at least 10 percent of precincts appeared to have improperly allocated their delegates, based on reported vote totals. In some cases, precincts awarded more delegates than they had to give; in others, they awarded fewer. More than two dozen precincts appeared to give delegates to candidates who did not qualify as viable under the caucus rules.

I need a gif of an NFL player spiking the ball.

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  1. Arahant Member

    WalterSobchakEsq: Oh yeah, and the Democrat party has no one to blame other than itself.

    The Republican data came in right quick without any hitches I heard about.

    • #1
    • February 8, 2020, at 11:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. OldPhil Coolidge

    Why do they keep up this bizarre system? Why not just, you know, have people vote and count them?

    This Music Man lyric fits, too:

    Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
    I say, trouble right here in River City.

    • #2
    • February 9, 2020, at 4:53 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Belt Member

    As an Iowan, I’m supposed to be defending the caucus but I just can’t muster up any enthusiasm. I think that the whole primary system needs to be revamped, but no one wants to rock the boat. It’s a mess, but I don’t see it changing any time soon.

    • #3
    • February 9, 2020, at 5:32 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. WalterSobchakEsq Thatcher
    WalterSobchakEsq

    Belt (View Comment):

    “I think that the whole primary system needs to be revamped, but no one wants to rock the boat. It’s a mess, but I don’t see it changing any time soon.”

    Agreed. I have some ideas. I should post them.

     

    • #4
    • February 9, 2020, at 8:35 AM PST
    • Like
  5. Barfly Member

    I have some ideas. Not about fixing Iowa or the DNC, but about why the caucuses are the way they are. One, it might be that lefties believe in magic, not physics. They believe in belief, and they only think of concrete practices like writing things down and counting them if they are done in the service of believing. In this theory, the caucus system is designed to obscure the mechanism so that the lefties will have something that cannot be known, but must be approached with belief.

    On the other hand, it might just be that the arcane rules of caucus systems provide rich opportunities for subterfuge and graft. Plain counting is for the rubes – it’d be like trying to con the straights with a shell game on the street corner but with clear glasses. 

    • #5
    • February 9, 2020, at 9:14 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  6. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Yes. The more complicated the process, the easier to manipulate the result.

    • #6
    • February 9, 2020, at 12:03 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Hugh Member

    How does the saying go…?

    To err is Human

    To really mess things up takes a computer.

    To really really really mess things up takes a Democrat.

    • #7
    • February 10, 2020, at 1:50 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Hugh Member

    I thought it might have been that line of code in the app: 

    “If: Bernie Then: Buttigeg”

    • #8
    • February 10, 2020, at 1:52 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Ralphie Member

    Hugh (View Comment):

    I thought it might have been that line of code in the app:

    “If: Bernie Then: Buttigeg”

    I’ll give you 10 likes.

    • #9
    • February 10, 2020, at 2:37 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Ralphie Member

    It isn’t who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.

    • #10
    • February 10, 2020, at 2:39 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    WalterSobchakEsq: I need a gif of an NFL player spiking the ball.

    • #11
    • February 10, 2020, at 3:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Barfly (View Comment):

    I have some ideas. Not about fixing Iowa or the DNC, but about why the caucuses are the way they are. One, it might be that lefties believe in magic, not physics. They believe in belief, and they only think of concrete practices like writing things down and counting them if they are done in the service of believing. In this theory, the caucus system is designed to obscure the mechanism so that the lefties will have something that cannot be known, but must be approached with belief.

    On the other hand, it might just be that the arcane rules of caucus systems provide rich opportunities for subterfuge and graft. Plain counting is for the rubes – it’d be like trying to con the straights with a shell game on the street corner but with clear glasses.

    If I remember correctly, Colorado used a caucus system in 2016 and there was proof afterward that cheating was used to aid Cruz in the vote.

    • #12
    • February 10, 2020, at 3:37 PM PST
    • Like
  13. Barfly Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    I have some ideas. Not about fixing Iowa or the DNC, but about why the caucuses are the way they are. One, it might be that lefties believe in magic, not physics. They believe in belief, and they only think of concrete practices like writing things down and counting them if they are done in the service of believing. In this theory, the caucus system is designed to obscure the mechanism so that the lefties will have something that cannot be known, but must be approached with belief.

    On the other hand, it might just be that the arcane rules of caucus systems provide rich opportunities for subterfuge and graft. Plain counting is for the rubes – it’d be like trying to con the straights with a shell game on the street corner but with clear glasses.

    If I remember correctly, Colorado used a caucus system in 2016 and there was proof afterward that cheating was used to aid Cruz in the vote.

    Their being caught is more proof that R’s just aren’t good at working the system.

    • #13
    • February 10, 2020, at 4:19 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Chris Gregerson Member
    Chris Gregerson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As I’ve posted before, the primaries shouldn’t be a government run activity. The parties need to find ways and fund them to put a candidate on the general election ballot in as many states as they can manage. The government can then referee the general election. 

    • #14
    • February 11, 2020, at 8:12 AM PST
    • Like
  15. WalterSobchakEsq Thatcher
    WalterSobchakEsq

    Percival (View Comment):

    WalterSobchakEsq: I need a gif of an NFL player spiking the ball.

    Thanks.

    • #15
    • February 11, 2020, at 10:29 PM PST
    • 1 like