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Results Of Iowa Caucuses Are Delayed Due To 'Reporting Issue'

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We are here broadcasting live at Smokey Row coffeehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.

(APPLAUSE, CHEERING)

MARTIN: There they are.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Hello. Hello, everybody.

MARTIN: In front of a live audience.

GREENE: Hello.

MARTIN: Everyone was up late awaiting results in the Democratic caucus vote - results that we still do not have. Precincts across the state reported all these technical issues, inconsistencies which kept Democratic Party officials from reporting the results. Late last night, NPR talked with the Des Moines County Democratic Party Co-Chair Tom Courtney.

TOM COURTNEY: Me and my secretary both tried to call for 45 minutes at the location. Finally I said, after that, we're going home. I wouldn't sit in an empty cafeteria at the high school and wait to call it in. If I can't get through in a reasonable amount of time, I'll just go home.

GREENE: So he was just trying to call in his results and could not get through and so decided he was just going to go to sleep and deal with it in the morning.

Let's talk about this situation, this mess with NPR's Domenico Montanaro, who is here, as is Clay Masters, who is the lead political reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Good morning to both of you.

MARTIN: Hi, guys.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning.

CLAY MASTERS, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: Clay, I want to start with you. What happened last night?

MASTERS: So they were - the Iowa Democratic Party was debuting this smartphone app. It was a way to calculate the caucus math because - remember - it's a caucus; it's not a straight primary vote. And it was also a way to report the results of what had happened at these precincts across the state.

GREENE: Supposed to make this easier.

MASTERS: It was supposed to make this easier. And they had said that this would get results out even earlier, that we'd know more. And here we are Tuesday morning, and we don't know anything.

GREENE: Well, we don't know. It's Tuesday morning. Do we know when we will know?

MASTERS: Well, the Iowa Democratic Party have put out a release saying that we will know sometime on Tuesday.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

MASTERS: So we're all just (laughter)...

GREENE: Could be 11 p.m....

MARTIN: Tuesday...

GREENE: It could be midday.

MARTIN: There's still a lot of hours in Tuesday.

MASTERS: Refresh, refresh.

GREENE: Yeah.

MONTANARO: Yeah.

MARTIN: So Domenico, how have the campaigns responded to this?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, not exactly well. I mean, you know, last night they were trying to figure out what to do. You saw Senator Amy Klobuchar, for example, be the first one to come out and talk. You had Elizabeth Warren come out and talk.

What was really notable, though - two things - the Sanders campaign released internal results from what they said were 40% of precincts around the state. And every campaign has this. They have volunteers who go to these places. They actually send back results electronically (laughter), and then they internally know kind of who did well. Those results, not surprisingly, showed Sanders doing well - leading narrowly in those unofficial results. And the - but then Pete Buttigieg went to the microphone, the former mayor of...

MARTIN: South Bend.

MONTANARO: ...South Bend, Ind., and he essentially claimed victory. He said, for all intents and purposes, it looks like we won here, and he said we're moving on to New Hampshire. So you know...

MARTIN: Well, if there's a vacuum of results, they - the...

MONTANARO: Sure. Why not?

MARTIN: ...Candidates will fill it.

GREENE: Fill the vacuum.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Right.

MONTANARO: Absolutely. But we don't know. It is Tuesday. We still don't have results.

MARTIN: So this is all about momentum, though, right?

MONTANARO: Yeah.

MARTIN: Like, really, what Iowa is about is getting quick momentum to go into New Hampshire. So if no one has the momentum, how does that affect them moving forward?

MONTANARO: You know, it's - it really is like - as if it never happened. And you know, it's really complicated, especially given the timing of what's been happening this week. I mean, we had the Super Bowl on Sunday. We had the Iowa caucuses on Monday. We have the president's State of the Union address tonight in primetime. You have the impeachment trial voting tomorrow. So how these candidates - and by the way, the 2020 campaign has already been overshadowed by so much of what's happened with the Trump administration, that how these candidates try to wrest the spotlight is very difficult to see right now.

MASTERS: We were already going to have a lot of candidates claiming momentum coming out of the caucuses just because we were going to get more results. We were going to get information on how many people walked in supporting which candidate for the - when they walked into the caucuses and then the second alignment and then the state delegate equivalent. So...

MARTIN: So the candidates could parse the results...

MASTERS: So the candidates...

MARTIN: ...To benefit themselves.

MASTERS: Yeah, the candidates were already going to claim momentum in different categories. And now they've just claimed momentum because they don't have any...

GREENE: Because they don't have anything else to say.

MASTERS: ...Results right now. Yeah.

GREENE: Clay, (inaudible) serious question about Iowa? I mean, it feel - I mean, you always hear these questions every four years. Like, should Iowa really be first? Does it really reflect the country? This year, the candidates came. They came a lot. They spent a lot of money...

MASTERS: Oh, yeah.

GREENE: ...Seemed to sort of vindicate Iowa in a way. After this, is Iowa at risk for not being seen as first in the nation anymore and for people thinking this is a bad idea?

MASTERS: I don't see how it isn't after this. I mean, this was dumping a lot of gasoline on already a smoldering fire here. I mean, you have people who talk about the demographics of Iowa not representing the rest of the country and going first. And you also have people just talking about the caucus process being confusing and being disenfranchising to some people who might want to show up. There was originally a way that people were going to be able to use a smartphone to caucus. That didn't happen because there were cybersecurity concerns. And this is just going to make it more and more challenging, I think, for Iowans to make the argument that it should go first.

GREENE: And whatever happens, the candidates, many of them, have already moved on to New Hampshire. I mean, this is just going forward.

MONTANARO: They've moved on to New Hampshire. That's coming up Tuesday. We have a debate on Friday. And it looks like New Hampshire, which has gotten very little attention, is now suddenly going to become very important.

GREENE: NPR's Domenico Montanaro and Clay Masters from Iowa Public Radio. Thank you, guys.

MONTANARO: You're welcome.

MASTERS: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.