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'It's over': Caucus organizers believe Iowa caucuses may end

Democratic caucus-goers participate in a precinct caucus in Opstad Auditorium at City High School in Iowa City on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 (Matt Wilde/KCRG)
Democratic caucus-goers participate in a precinct caucus in Opstad Auditorium at City High School in Iowa City on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 (Matt Wilde/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Feb. 4, 2020 at 6:35 PM CST
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After the delayed and still incomplete results of the caucuses, some area organizers believe the Iowa caucuses could be dead.

However, if Iowa stopped using the caucus system and switched to a conventional primary, New Hampshire would essentially take over that first-in-the-nation spot, due to laws in that state.

Ultimately, that is up to Iowa lawmakers. Iowa law requires the Iowa caucuses to be first, eight days ahead of any other selection process. Because of that, some experts think removing the caucuses will prove difficult, considering the strongest supporters have ended up in the White House.

"I really think it's over with," John Deeth, a caucus organizer for the Johnson County Democrats, said. "I don't know what's going to happen in the legislature, ultimately I think it's going to be taken away from us."

One day removed from the Iowa Caucuses, Deeth and volunteers with the Johnson County Democrats are left sorting boxes and reviewing the numbers. He fears that all of the efforts of the party's volunteers have been for nothing.

"As far as the impact of the Iowa Causes on the presidential race, it's like they never happened," Deeth said.

Deeth said that has to do with the late and incomplete results and changes that were made.

"People were very, very confused by the preference cards, which was a new thing," Deeth said. "People were getting them and, as we expected, immediately wanted to write their choice on them, immediately wanted to write their second choice on them, immediately wanted to write their second choice on the backside, even though that wasn't the procedure."

The changes came after the caucuses four years ago, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were deadlocked.

"Democrats had an opportunity in 2020 to fix it, but they didn't," Tim Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa, said. "That's when the spotlight was on them and it was particularly on them in this cycle, given the intensity of the Democratic base. So yeah, that's what really makes, at least in my view, what makes the caucuses on life support."

Hagle argued the caucuses are not dead yet partially because past presidents, including current President Donald Trump, support the system.

"With a president that is in favor of the caucuses in Iowa going first, I think we have at least one more opportunity to get it right," Hagle said. "But certainly, if there are additional problems the next time for either party, then that's when we can pretty much say goodbye to it."

After Monday night, area organizers cannot help but feel frustrated.

"It's not the fault of the local activists that the reporting system failed," Deeth said.

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