2020 Iowa caucus: what really happened


Kaitlyn Richardson

Iowa caucus-goers sit at a table marked with a Bernie Sanders poster

Anna Boes and Mia Kawamitsu

As the 2020 Presidential election rapidly approaches, a highly anticipated event for candidates and their supporters occurred in Iowa. The Iowa democratic caucuses took place on Feb. 3 at 7:00 in the evening at designated precincts. 

If you haven’t caucused before, you might be surprised by the process. Junior Andres Valdez-Perez went to watch the caucus for the first time and was intrigued.

“I actually went to the Iowa Caucus and it was really interesting; people tried to get other citizens of their neighborhood to go for one candidate or the other,” Valdez-Perez said. “I just watched the adults do it.”

When you get to your precinct, volunteers for each candidate are there waiting for you. Their main goal is to change your mind and get you to come to their candidate’s side. You then choose which candidate you would like to align with in the first round. The candidate must have at least 15% of the attending people at the precinct in order to be viable for the second round. 

There is also a youth caucus that many younger people aren’t aware of. 

“There were not enough young people who went there so they cancelled it (The Youth Caucus). So I just watched the adults do it,” said Valdez-Perez. “I didn’t know it was a thing either, I was just going to watch the adult caucus, and I heard there was a youth one so I just signed up when I got there.”

However, the Iowa Democratic party hit a snag as the night progressed. 

As the nation eagerly awaited the results from the caucuses, the minutes turned to hours, and then eventually days. News outlets scrambled for answers and the candidates had to move on to the New Hampshire primaries without knowing who was victorious. Naturally there were some hard feelings towards the Iowa Democratic Party, who finally released the details on what went wrong.

In an effort to save time, a new app was designed to help the precincts record and submit results. However, as the precinct chair people tried to access the app, it became clear that it was not working. Since the schedule is tight at each precinct, people were getting done at generally the same time, and thus, all running into the same problem with the app. Many of them began calling the help line, which in turn caused the phone lines to backup. 

Precinct chair members waited for hours to get help with no such luck. This delayed the results further and also caused inconsistency in results. Results slowly started to trickle in late Tuesday into Wednesday. 

After a week of waiting for results, Pete Buttigieg came out of the caucuses victorious. Bernie Sanders was a close second with only 0.1% behind Buttigieg. However, there is still concern that the results that were reported aren’t truthful and accurate. 

Although Valdez-Perez wasn’t old enough to participate in this election’s caucus, he definitely plans to in the future. “I think it’s a good way to be heard, to be represented in your community,” Valdez-Perez said.