First, at each caucus location, organizers tabulated what was called the “first alignment” — the total votes each candidate received at the start of the night. Then, candidates who failed to meet a 15 percent threshold in the first round of voting were declared “unviable” and their supporters released to vote for their second choice in a second round of voting.
The second round of votes was then collected and tabulated in what is called a “final alignment.” Then, the state party used the “final alignment” votes to calculate the number of “state delegate equivalents,” or SDEs — the state convention delegates awarded to each candidate. These are awarded on a proportional basis, based on the turnout levels in different precincts in the past two general elections. The SDEs, in turn, determine how many of Iowa’s 41 national convention delegates each candidate receives.
Is your head spinning? In a normal election, the first vote would be the end of the process — the candidate who got the most votes would be declared the winner. Indeed, in the Republican Iowa caucuses, it is. But instead of carrying out a relatively simple task — holding a vote, tabulating the results and declaring a winner — Iowa Democrats designed a system so cumbersome and unwieldy that it overwhelmed them.
The system was ridiculous to begin with. Even if it had worked as intended, it could have produced a result that left multiple candidates claiming victory. As we now know, it didn’t even come close to working as intended.
Who would come up with such a complicated and unmanageable plan? Answer: essentially, the same brilliant minds who came up with Medicare-for-all and the “Green New Deal.” What we saw in Iowa on Monday night was democratic socialism in action. A small group of people, brimming with confidence that exceeds their abilities, designed an unworkable system, failed to see its obvious flaws, were shocked by its inevitable failure and then made excuses when it became an unmitigated catastrophe.
If you liked the Iowa caucuses, you’ll love government-run health care. The same party that could not manage calculating the votes of about 200,000 Iowa caucus-goers wants you to trust them with managing one-tenth of the U.S. economy. Democrats want to bring the same efficiency on display in Iowa on Monday night to the nation’s health-care, education, housing, transportation and energy sectors. Thanks, but no thanks.
President Ronald Reagan liked to tell jokes about the legendary inefficiencies of Soviet socialism. One involved the 10-year wait to buy a car in the Soviet Union. After a customer put down money at the car dealership, he was told to come back in 10 years to pick up his car. "Morning or afternoon?" he asked. The dealer replied, “What difference does it make?” “Well,” the man said, “the plumber is coming in the morning.”
It won’t take 10 years to get the results of the 2020 Iowa caucuses. But the Democrats’ failure in Iowa stemmed from the same fundamental flaw that has caused socialism to fail wherever it is tried — the hubris of a tiny cadre whose grand visions and lack of humility far exceed their ability to deliver.