President Donald J. Trump secured an overwhelming victory in the Republican caucus in Iowa on Monday, the first step on the path to his inevitable reelection in 2020. "Big WIN for us in Iowa. Thank You!" the president tweeted to his 72 million followers.
The Democratic caucus results, on the other hand, remained inconclusive early Tuesday as a result of what state party officials described as "inconsistencies" in the precinct reporting. "A cloud of doubt hangs over this whole process," said former Obama adviser David Axelrod.
Every leading candidate except Mayor Pete Buttigieg took the opportunity to give a televised speech to supporters before midnight as network news anchors scrambled to make sense of the delay. In some cases, those anchors single-handedly prevented the accurate reporting of caucus results.
Buttigieg addressed supporters shortly after midnight, declaring that his campaign would be "going on to New Hampshire victorious," despite the fact that precisely 0 percent of the Iowa precincts had reported results and were unlikely to do so until at least Tuesday morning and potentially never in a manner that could be considered complete and accurate.
The other Democratic campaigns similarly worked to control the messaging out of the debacle. Elizabeth Warren's campaign manager, Roger Lau, said he was "confident" that the results would show a close three-way race between Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg, with former vice president Joe Biden a "distant fourth."
Biden's campaign, meanwhile, raised concerns about the "considerable flaws" in the state's reporting system in an official letter to the Iowa Democratic Party. The campaign's general counsel, Dana Remus, demanded a "full explanation" and "an opportunity to respond before any official results are released," a move seen by many as a transparent effort to delay the release of those results.
All of the Democratic campaigns are said to be "livid" about the debacle, according to CNN. Sources described a testy conference call arranged by the Iowa Democratic Party that ended abruptly after campaign representatives demanded to know when the results would be released.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, meanwhile, reveled in the chaos on the Democratic side. "Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history," said Parscale in a statement. "It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process."
Former Obama adviser David Plouffe captured the mood of many Democrats, saying: "We may be witnessing the last Iowa caucus."