[Politico] Senate Dems unload on Iowa caucus debacle

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Facing imminent defeat in their attempt to remove President Donald Trump through impeachment, Senate Democrats woke up Tuesday to a new problem: A debacle in Iowa that will slow the party’s momentum and may hinder eventual unity around the Democrats’ presidential nominee.

Senior Senate Democrats said in interviews on Tuesday morning that the delayed Iowa caucus results will prompt a re-examination of the state’s exalted status. And they worried that it would delay the party from coalescing around Trump’s general election opponent in the days following Trump's acquittal on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Democrats had hoped that Iowa might cull the field and provide the first evidence of which candidate is strongest to face Trump. But now Pete Buttigieg is claiming victory, Bernie Sanders is releasing his own internal polls, conspiracy theories are flourishing and it’s still not clear when the Iowa Democratic Party will release results.

The state has now become “a political asterisk and it's a shame,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

“This caucus format does not reflect the reality of life and we're doing everything in our power to make voting easier for people. The Iowa caucus is the most painful, awkward approach,” Durbin said. “I don't think even today's announcement will have the same impact.”

“It’s certainly not good for Iowa. To the extent it persists the primary and delays us getting behind a single nominee, that is what is not helpful,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “The sooner we get to some clarity about an eventual nominee the better off we are, because we can actually start to engage rather than be fussing with each other.”

Democrats didn’t exactly say that Iowa should get to the back of the primary line in 2024. And given the possibility the state is competitive this November none would unload on the Iowa Democratic Party, which helped House Democrats pick up two House seats in the 2018 midterms.

But Democrats who have long complained about the lack of diversity in a pivotal state as well as the inscrutable rules of the caucuses see an opportunity to rethink how Democrats choose future nominees.

“It can be among the first but it really does not represent the diversity of America. It speaks to an important part of America, which we should never ignore. But it would be better if the first test had a more diverse voter base,” Durbin said.

“There’s no question in my mind there will be a thorough review. And there have long been questions about how the primary season begins. So it will only add to it,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). “There’s going to be lots of examinations of what went wrong, why the apps [for reporting results] weren’t tested. And this isn’t calculus of several variables. This is mathematics.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) described the caucus process as “haphazard” and said there are “lessons to be learned.”

“Either they reform the system or they forgo being first,” he said. “But maybe there should be no first.”

The confusion about the results of the Iowa caucuses prompted former Sen. Mary Landrieu to ask a group of reporters for an update on the winner, before complaining about the process.

Some senators downplayed the effect of the debacle on the overall race, while others sought to boost their own states as alternatives.

Iowa Democratic Party: Bottom line is results are accurate

“There's a lot of questions about why Iowa should — or any caucus state — should be first,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “And frankly I'd like to see Michigan, big diverse state, and we know how to run elections and I think Michigan would be a great place to start.”

Amid a sustained assault from Democrats on Iowa’s unique role in American politics, its two Republican senators and governor sought to defend it. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst put out a joint statement with Gov. Kim Reynolds saying Iowa is “the ideal state to kick off the nominating process.”

Despite the latest mishap, some Democrats agree.

“It’s just disappointing, obviously, that it didn’t work as intended,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who recently exited the presidential race. “There’s still a lot of benefits from Iowa, as the candidate that didn’t have big money or whatever. It’s nice to have a smaller state where you really have to go out and win in a grassroots campaigning style.”

Source Politco

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