This Tuesday the first DNC caucus took place in the state of Iowa, marking the beginning of what could be a very interesting race for the Democratic presidential candidates seeking to face Trump in the 2020 election. Although Iowa itself has no intrinsic value (containing only 56 delegates of the around 2000 needed to win the Democratic nomination), the winner of the Iowa caucus has traditionally seen incredible media coverage; something very valuable to the race. This time, however, things turned out differently.
For one, the app that was supposed to facilitate caucusing for Iowans and assemble the votes, launched by Shadow Inc., saw tremendous technical difficulties. As of Tuesday night, only preliminary results had been published, estimated to account for a mere 1.9% of the final results. The preliminary results saw Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (Buttigieg with a small lead) topping, with Joe Biden falling from a top spot in the polls to an estimated 4th place, only a couple of percentage points above Amy Klobuchar. That same Tuesday night, Buttigieg held a speech claiming that they would move into New Hampshire (where the next caucus will take place) ‘victorious’. Why is this controversial?
Well, besides the fact that he and his campaign deemed themselves victors of the caucus after an insignificant 1.9% had been published, there is another side to the story. Shadow Inc. was launched by the company ACRONYM, whose founder, Tara McGowan, is the wife of the senior strategist of none other the Pete Buttigieg. Furthermore, Buttigieg’s campaign helped finance Shadow to the tune of $42,000. Despite attempts by McGowan to distance herself from Shadow Inc. entirely, the two companies have been found to share the same address in D.C.
Note: at the time of writing this piece, Thursday Feb. 6 5PM GMT, still not all the results have been released, and the difference between Sanders and Buttigieg is 0.1%.
Going back to the significance of the Iowa caucuses, its importance does not lie in the votes, but in the media coverage for winners and possible surprises. The major story thus far: the incompetence of the Iowa Democratic Party and the apparent corrupt nature of the Democratic National Committee. In fact, the ‘failure’ of the caucus might prove essential for the Biden camp, as he currently is escaping from embarrassing media coverage given his plummeting. In this sense, Sanders and Buttigieg are robbed from media praise and airtime. This lack of reporting, although, is an ongoing trend of the caucus, with media coverage the week prior to the event having been historically low. The Tyndall Report has published that on the major networks ABC News, NBC and CBS, coverage was 51 minutes in 2008, 66 minutes in 2012, 86 minutes in 2016 and a staggeringly low 10 minutes in 2020. Where did all the coverage go?
Many will come to the same conclusion: impeachment. The impeachment trials of Donald Trump have taken over global and local news as one of the main stories of the Trump administration and might prove to be hurtful for the DNCs wishes of winning in November 2020. One Dem. candidate, Andrew Yang, has been particularly vocal about this process and its destructive capabilities. “Any time we’re talking about Donald Trump, Donald Trump is winning. […] If the Democratic message is ‘Donald Trump bad, impeach Donald Trump’, then we’re actually increasing the chances of him getting a second term”. He expressed this in September 2019.
What do you think? Will the Iowa caucus prove as significant to the presidential election as it historically has? What do we make of the turbulent start to the race? What effect do you see the impeachment having on the race? Let us know your thoughts below! Thank you for reading and debating with us.