Human Events Blog

Rick Santorum Wins Iowa Caucus

 

People are always wondering why Iowa should have such a prominent role in the primaries, given its small size, unrepresentative demographics, and other factors.   Here’s a little more ammunition for those who think it should no longer hold its outsized position in presidential politics: it turns out Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses after all.   They think.   The final count may never be complete.

The Des Moines Register calls this “a tie for the ages.”   I can think of some other, more colorful phrases to describe it.

There are too many holes in the certified totals from the Iowa caucuses to know for certain who won, but Rick Santorum wound up with a 34-vote advantage.

Results from eight precincts are missing – any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney – and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.

GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts, although not all the changes affected the two leaders. Changes in one precinct alone shifted the vote by 50 – a margin greater than the certified tally.

The certified numbers: 29,839 for Santorum and 29,805 for Romney. The turnout: 121,503.

So fifteen days later, Iowa authorities still can’t count 121,503 votes accurately, but they’re kinda thinking maybe that Santorum fellow ended up 34 votes ahead.

How did this horror show happen?   Iowa caucus results are submitted on paper, using documentation called “Form E.”   (See, Ann, there is still a demand for paper!)   More than one hundred of the 1,744 precincts in Iowa didn’t comply with the simple instructions for handling these forms:

The precinct chair and precinct secretary were both to sign the results verified by witnesses on caucus night. But results for some precincts came in on pieces of paper other than the official forms. Many more had only one signature, or the wrong signature (say, from a county chair). Another 18 documents had no signatures at all.

[…] In Fayette County, four of the Form Es were signed by the same two people – Irene Iben, a precinct secretary who backed Gingrich, and Janet Wissler, a precinct secretary who caucused for Perry.

Wissler told the Register on Wednesday that the four precincts – Oelwein 1, 2, 3 and 4 – voted as a group. The Fayette County GOP chairwoman “probably handed them to me and told me to sign them,” Wissler said. “It was the next day.”

And yet, “politics watchers said an accurate caucus count is important to the credibility of the event, but it would be unfair for anyone to spin the new outcome as embarrassing for Iowa.”   Oh, Heaven forbid!   Hey, they only managed to completely lose the results from eight precincts.   That’s a 99.5% success rate at handling simple paperwork, filed after the candidates poured millions of dollars into winning a race that held the attention of the entire nation.

I’ll say this in Iowa’s defense: they’re far from the only ones who turn elections into a circus.   For some reason, the terabyte-munching, data-mining, ID-obsessed Information Age continues to tolerate horse-and-buggy elections.   Iowa has been running a state lottery for over 25 years, and I’ll wager it’s not satisfied with 99.5% accuracy when it processes far larger amounts of data, every single week.

 

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  • flmom0f4

    Yet if they are challenged on the the dubious importance of the Iowa caucuses, the shrieks can be heard throughout the country.  If they want to hold onto that distinction it would be wise for them to operate WITH distinction.

  • Walter_Peterson

    If they handled the votes carelessly, it’s because it didn’t matter anyway.  The delegates selected at the state convention are not bound by the popularity contest results.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JE64D54HQHDTMIVGUFLGRBIWIU Mimi

    Congratulations to Rick Santorum…he needs this….DID  ROMNEY  call and  congratulate him YET ?

  • http://twitter.com/aemoreira81 Adam Moreira

    But I’ll still take a paper ballot over one with no paper trail. At least these can have the validity challenged; I would not be surprised if Romney did just that.

  • boats48

    How can we ever expect to win the general election, guarding against the Democrats’ voter fraud, when we can’t even tell you how many Republicans voted in a caucus or primary? It’s a sad, sad moment when we can’t maintain the integrity of our electoral process. Congratulations to Rick Santorum!

  • Hominid

    Lose by 8 votes, win by 30 votes – is that significant especially in the Iowa farce of a primary?  Hell no.

  • Kevin Subra

    You are generous and kind to us Iowans, Doc. Thanks. It’s incredibly embarassing, but these caucuses are done at the ground level. Hopefully Iowa GOPers will work on a better way to tabulate.

  • Leroy_Whitby

    So Romney, for all his attacks and endless campaigning lost Iowa. Of course, the establishment Republicans, by hook and by crook proclaim him the winner before it’s definite. Well, well, it was not true. Romney lost.

  • Borghesius

    For the last week we have been hearing from various establishment people that Mitt Romney is the inevitable candidate who has won the first two contests, and everyone else should drop.  We have also been told that Rick Santorum has no chance, and should drop out in favor of Newt Gingerich.

    Yes, this is obviously within the margin of error, but certified result is certified result.    Yes, Iowa has a disproportionate influence.  It has been significant, because the narrative since then has been shaped by that previous result.  

    I’m happy for Santorum.  I’m happy for Newt (even though he’s not my guy) because for the headline only readers, it is a blow to the Romney is unstoppable myth.  

  • Borghesius

    Not necessary for Romney to do, because the Iowa Repubs have already declined to declare a winner, saying that nobody will ever know.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QGJB6XKBWEVILASOVXE5FP65SA Dave D

    One of the vote counters forgot to carry the 9.

  • LarryCicero

    So the inevitability argument can be tossed on the trash heap. And Santorum finished ahead of Newt in NH but that I don’t hear anything about. For some reason he should get out of Newt’s way. Newt’s ex-wife will appear on ABC tonight and talk about his six year affair. The importance of SC is being overstated. Newt is coming on strong but there appear to be roadblocks for him, like his ex-wife, and the issue of character.   We’ll see who wins round # 17 tonight and if noses get bloodied or if someone gets knocked out. The judges will have until saturday to score the fight.  Let’s keep this thing going and vet these guys.  Jab, jab, dodge- bring me a beer Edith.

  • http://twitter.com/Doc_0 John Hayward

    A logical point, although you know how these news-cycle avalanches go.  Campaigns rise and fall by winning, placing, or showing in Iowa, even when 1000 votes separates second and third place.

    I’ve actually heard rumblings that the eight “lost” precincts went pretty strongly for Santorum, so if they were counted, he might have won by a good deal more than 30 or 40 votes.

    I’m more convinced than ever that we ought to have a compressed primary in which nobody goes “first” and every state ultimately gets to weigh in, in a meaningful way, before half the candidates are toast.  Did you want to vote for your beloved Governor in the GOP primary, Texans?  Too bad!

  • AgTrotter

    This is nothing more than one additional piece of evidence that the Iowa caucuses are totally meaningless.

  • Hominid

    Right you are – the present system seems nuts.

  • Concerned4America

    If it even makes the head lines.

    This sounds like an election run by Democrats where there are ballots found in the trunks of cars or someone forgot to count/report votes.

    Shades of Florida 2000.

  • Concerned4America

    Agree but my understanding is that this is more of a popularity/beauty/”sense of the voters” contest and the actual delegates are not bound to vote this way no matter what the real result was.

  • Master Aries

    in all honesty we have no idea who won.  There may have been enough uncounted votes to swing it toward anyone.  that actually makes it WORSE.