Iowa Caucus: Its importance and its downfall

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Marking the true beginning of the 2020 election season, the Iowa caucus took place Monday, Feb. 3, though results were still coming in Tuesday night. 

The Iowa Caucus has a long-standing tradition of being one of the first organized gatherings of individuals to vote for who they believe should lead their party. 

Caucuses are structured in a way that allows people to learn who they agree with most policy-wise before casting their vote. 

“Iowa has a long history of being the first to pick their winner, but it is a completely unrepresentative state to decide who the leader of the democratic party should be, and that has completely legitimate questions that are arising,” said Jack Wheatley, Michigan State University sophomore studying public policy and social relations and policy. He also is the communications director for Spartans with Warren

According to a July 1, 2019, U.S. Census Bureau report, 90.7% of Iowa residents were white. It said 28.2% had college degrees.

In the United States, 76.5% of residents are white, and 31.5% have college degrees, according to the same report.

“They’re majority white, and I just feel like there’s a better place to caucus or hold a first primary to better represent where the candidates stand,” said Sky Stillwell, an MSU journalism freshman. “I feel like if a candidate does poorly in the Iowa caucus they just kind of lose steam across the U.S and in the election.”

The caucus best serves as an opportunity to gather a baseline for which candidate might be the most favorable to lead their party to the finish line in November. 

“The amount of pressure put on candidates for this one caucus, I mean they’ve been talking about Iowa for months,” Stillwell said. “There are so many more primaries coming up, and for them to bank on just this one, not even a primary, is ridiculous in my opinion.”

Because Iowa uses a delegate system, Pete Buttigieg came out on top in the 2020 caucus, with 26.8% of the delegates’ votes. Bernie Sanders accumulated 1,314 more popular votes than Buttigieg, but left with only 25.2% of the delegates’ votes. 

“There have been multiple elections where the winner, or who has the majority votes in Iowa has not been the primary for the general election, so there is error in the process,” said Rane Claypool, an MSU freshman studying history and political science. 

A majority of the results came in Tuesday night after experiencing a coding issue with the app used for voting Monday night. 

“It’s a really big problem because the distrust and the legitimacy of our democratic institutions at this time in history is extremely high,” Wheatley said. “To have such an important aspect and tenet of our nominating process go this astray, and the only thing that Donald Trump wants for the Democratic Party is confusion and disarray, as much chaos as possible when trying to decide the future of our party, this is perfect for him.” 

The next important date for the 2020 election is the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11.