The first contest in the 2020 democratic primary, marred by controversy after the failure of a voting app called Shadow delayed the results.

2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus

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Updated Feb 06, 2020 at 03:36PM EST by Adam.

Added Feb 04, 2020 at 11:42AM EST by Adam.

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The 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus refers to the presidential primary election which happened in Iowa, the first voting contest in the 2020 Democratic Primary. The election was marred by controversy after an app used to tally the votes, manufactured by the tech firm Shadow, faced technical difficulties, delaying the results and raising suspicions of voter fraud. This suspicion was heightened after Pete Buttigieg appeared to give a victory speech despite no official votes being released. Buttigieg's campaign is a client of Shadow, having purchased a service to send text messages to voters from the firm.


On February 3rd, 2020, Iowa began its caucus for the 2020 United States Presidential Election. Whereas a traditional primary contest will award the candidate with the most votes in a state all of its delegate, a caucus operates differently. In a caucus, a district meets and people in that group will select a candidate in the first round of voting. If a candidate doesn't meet a required percentage of supporters, those supporters can elect to support another candidate in the second round of voting. Delegates are awarded based on how the percentage of voters per precinct. Running basically unopposed, Donald Trump secured an easy victory in the Republican contest.[1]



For the 2020 Iowa Caucus, officials implemented an app used to tally the votes developed by a tech firm called Shadow Inc.[2] That evening, many district officials claimed they were unable to submit their district's vote tallies via the app. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price blamed the problem on a coding error and said there were "inconsistencies" in some of the results. He assured that it was not a cyber attack or the work of otherwise nefarious actors. This led to an extended delay in reporting the results, as officials were going back to count the written votes manually.

Candidates' Response

With cable news giving round-the-clock news coverage of the caucuses, candidates began using the dead air to give speeches to their supporters. While several candidates gave speeches speaking of their successes in the caucus, Joe Biden, who was polling poorly in the state ahead of the caucus, gave a speech described as "trying to buck up his supporters" ahead of the next contest in New Hampshire.[4] Of note, Pete Buttigieg gave a speech where it appeared he was claiming victory in the caucus, despite no official results being announced.[3] Buttigieg's speech appeared suspicious to some, as his campaign had donated $42,500 to Shadow in July of 2019.[2] The next morning, when reporter DJ Judd attempted to ask Buttigieg if his speech was premature, he declined to respond (shown below).

Amidst the chaos, the Bernie Sanders campaign released their internal data from Iowa, which represented roughly 40% of precincts in the state. Their numbers showed Sanders ahead with roughly 30% of the vote, Buttigieg in second with 25%, Elizabeth Warren in third with 21%, Biden in fourth with 12%, and Amy Klobuchar in fifth with 11%.[5] Buttigieg's campaign released a memo with their internal data as well, also showing a roughly 25% vote number with 75% of the precincts reporting, though their report did not show the other candidates' results.[7]

Tom Perez Declares Recanvass

On February 4th, the Iowa Democratic Party released 62% of the results, showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in a virtual tie, with Sanders having a slight edge in the popular vote and Buttigieg having a slight edge in the delegate percentage count, though the numbers would give both Sanders and Buttigieg ten delegates from Iowa moving forward.

Over the following day, as more precincts reported, Sanders appeared to be gaining on Buttigieg's State Delegate Equivalent count. Late at night on February 5th, 97% of precincts had reported, showing Sanders had a strong lead in the popular vote and was .1 State Delegate Equivalent behind Buttigieg. The remaining precinct was a satellite caucus that Sanders was expected to win, which would give him the overall edge and the victory in Iowa by all metrics.

On February 6th, the New York Times[18] reported that the results were "riddled" with inconsistencies discovered the day prior. The inconsistencies were not the result of the crashed-app controversy. These include official vote tallies not matching up with those given independently by precincts, precincts awarding votes to the wrong candidates, and vote tallies not adding up. For example, It was discovered that some precincts were awarding votes intended for Sanders and Warren to Tom Steyer and Deval Patrick. These inconsistencies were widely shared on Twitter as well.[19] Later that day Tom Perez, the head a of the DNC, declared a "recanvass" of the votes, meaning the votes would once again be recounted after they were once delayed due to inconsistencies with the app developed by Shadow.[20] There is no timetable as to when the recanvassed results will be released.

Tom Perez @TomPerez Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the lowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass. 12:18 PM · Feb 6, 2020 · Sprout Social 5K Likes 1.9K Retweets Tom Perez Replying to @TomPerez @TomPerez · 1h A recanvass is a review of the worksheets from each caucus site to ensure accuracy. The IDP will continue to report results. 17 300 1.9K 1.3K

Online Reactions

Online called for the resignation of DNC chair Tom Perez using the hashtag #TomPerezResign,[8] with people suspicious that the failure in Iowa was the work of the DNC attempting to stunt Bernie Sanders' momentum. Other, related trending hashtags include #IowaCaucusDisaster[9] and #DNCisCorrupt.[10]

Meg Slay @megslay27 My friend is a volunteer in lowa. Asked what's up and was informed #PetelsAWeasel. #lowaCaucuses #lowaCaucus #DNCRigging #TomPerezResign 10:16 PM Hey what's going on so far? Why would there be inconsistencies? Apparently Buttigieg was trying to cheat through the app and he was caught by Warren and Klobuchar supporters whose votes he was stealing as well Adam Drake @AdamJDrake This is my cat. Her name is Butter. She is declaring victory in lowa. Now on to New Hampshire!#lowaCaucuses #lowaCaucuses2020 #lowaCaucusDisaster

On Reddit, live threads covering the news in /r/politics gained roughly 2,000 points apiece.[11][12] In /r/The_Donald, Redditor ThreeDogBowWow[13] posted a Jeb Wins about Iowa, gaining over 1,500 points (shown below, left). User markipol posted a Sleeping Shaq meme about the bizarreness of the Iowa caucus rules in /r/PresidentialRaceMemes,[14] gaining over 610 points (shown below, right).

Austn lowa Democratic Party Abert Leac Ix Falls 100% JEB! Sanders 0% Biden 0% 0% Warren 0% Buttigieg 0% Yang Klobuchar 0% Davenpor 0% Steyer Incolno Single transferable vote Mail in votes Paper Ballots Reporting results via secure text or phone lines i sleep Standing in a group App that inevitably broke No provisions for disabled voters F------ COIN FLIPS???? Hours of delay making people doubt results real siit

One particularly memorable moment of the night featured an Iowa precinct representative on hold with the Iowa Democratic Party, allegedly for an hour calling into CNN. While speaking to Wolf Blitzer, the Iowa Democratic Party took him off hold and when he didn't immediately respond, the party hung up on him (shown below). All of this happened on live television.


The debacle led to heightened suspicions online that something was amiss. Buttigieg's connection to Shadow and his apparent victory speech led the hashtag "#MayorCheat" to trend on Twitter.[6] User @jackallisonLOL[15] tweeted, "i feel really bad for all the young people and first time caucus goers that #MayorCheat and the DNC stole their big night from them. disgusting. this is the kind of thing that disenfranchises people forever!", gaining over 1,100 likes (shown below, left). User @indianaboognish[16] tweeted, "So let me get this straight. #MayorCheat had internal numbers showing he LOST and then STILL claimed victory? How does that work exactly? #BernieWon" (shown below, center). User @nochorus[17] tweeted a Metal Gear Solid parody of Buttigieg's involvement with Shadow (shown below, right).

jack allison @jackallisonLOL i feel really bad for all the young people and first time caucus goers that #MayorCheat and the DNC stole their big night from them. disgusting. this is the kind of thing that disenfranchises people forever! 8:15 AM Feb 4, 2020 · Twitter Web App Tabula Rasa 2 @indianaboognish So let me get this straight. #MayorCheat had internal numbers showing he LOST and then STILL claimed victory? How does that work exactly? #BernieWon Brent Welder @BrentWelder · 4h The @PeteButtigieg campaign just released its internal results (covering 75% of precincts) showing Buttigieg doing the same as was reported by the @BernieSanders internal numbers. Meaning it's clear that Bernie Sanders won the #lowaCaucus. Show this thread PIT 40.85 MEMORY Snake, this is serious. Our intel indicates Peter Buttigieg secretly contracted the ACRONYM group to create something called THE SHADOW PROGRAM

I Watched 62% Of…

I Watched 62% Of… is a Twitter snowclone parodying those who began analyzing the news that Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were in a virtual tie for first place in the 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus with 62% of precincts in the state counted. The snowclone features people joking about pop culture stories in which stopping 62% of the way through would result in giving a false impression of the ending. For example, @chbooksdc made a joke about The Great Gatsby, tweeting, "Just finished 62% of this novel and we’re so excited for Gatsby and Daisy," gaining over 7,200 retweets and 59,000 likes (shown below, left). User @gregprice11 posted an example using Game of Thrones, gaining over 310 retweets and 3,000 likes (shown below, right). The jokes were covered in a Twitter Events page.

Capitol Hill Books @chbooksdc Just finished 62% of this novel and we're so excited for Gatsby and Daisy. 6:24 PM · Feb 4, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone Greg Price @greg_price11 I watched 62% of Game of Thrones and this Daenerys chick is just an awesome leader who will make a great Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. 7:20 PM · Feb 4, 2020 · Twitter Web App

Suspected 4chan Raid

On February 3rd, an anon on /pol/ suggested raiding the Iowa Caucuses.[24]

[6/1/5] An Opportunity for some trolling Anonymous ID:V2WKAeeG Tue 04 Feb 2020 01:52:06 No.242290637 E View Reply Original Report Quoted By: >>242291281 >>242291370 VIEW CAUCUS RESULTS CAUCUSGOERS Ok /pol/, time for some classic trollery. The lowa Caucus is screwed up right now, as the Democratic party used a broken app to record results, leaving the party to have to tabulate everything by phone. As you can imagine, their phone lines are totally clogged right now, but still functional. We can fix that. By calling the number in the image below, you can help make the problem worse and cause the results to be delayed even further. This will help generate conspiracy theories galore, and you can tell your grandkids how you helped continue 4chan's long history of trolling the nation around the election season. CAUCUS LEADERS PRESS TO CONTACT DUR CAUCUS HOTLINE PLEASE CALL: SDB-32S-8o 926KIB, 1724x1084, Screen Shot 2020-02-04 at

Late at night on February 4th, several users on /pol/[21] posted the number of the Iowa Democratic party and suggested calling it to "clog the lines" and further delay results. It appears that one anon copied the message, "clog the lines, make the call lads, after 54 minutes they answered and l was able to tie up the call another ten minutes with the woman who answered because she called me sir and l demanded to speak to a supervisor who would use my correct pronouns of "they /them" before l would report my caucus results" several times. This led some media outlets, including Bloomberg[22] and NBC News[23] to declare that 4chan had conducted a raid that impacted the delay.

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Top Comments

The greater aerie
The greater aerie

>fucked up the primaries
I've come to make an announcement, Shadow the Organization is a bitch ass motherfucker he pissed on my fucking votes. That's right, he took his corrupt fucking DNC dick out and he pissed on my fucking votes and he said his donations were THIS BIG and I said "That's corruption." so I'm making a call-out post on my Twitter dot com. Shadow you got a small financial base, it's the size of Hillary except way smaller, and guess what? Here's what my donations looks like. That's right: once again i have to ask for your financial support! He fucked the primaries, so guess what? I'm gonna fuck the DNC! That's right, this is what you get! My super laser piss! Except I'm not gonna piss on the DNC. I'm gonna go higher. I'm pissing on America! How do you like that trump? I PISSED ON THE USA YOU IDIOT! You have 23 hours until the piss droplets hit the fucking whitehouse, now get out of my fucking sight before I piss on you too


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